As an author, you work hard to create a book that is flawless – you write a first manuscript, make revisions, make some more revisions, and toil for a long time to finally get your book “just right” and ready for sale. Now you have your book up on Amazon, but it’s not selling the way you want it to. When that happens, it’s discouraging after all that time and effort you put into creating the best book you could. So why the low sales? And what can you do about it?
To answer these questions, let’s take a moment for a quick marketing lesson. When building a marketing plan, it’s important to keep in mind the 4 P’s of marketing: product, place, promotion, and price. Briefly, I’ve defined them below:
• Product: The product/service you are selling (your book)
• Place: How are you going to distribute your product?
• Promotion: How are you going to tell people about your product and convince them to buy?
• Price: What are you going to charge for your product?
As a marketer, pricing can be the most difficult aspect of these 4 P’s to get right and the same holds true for authors. For most authors, when pricing their books, they price it with the time and effort it took to create their product in mind. As an author, I completely empathize, but as a marketer, I have to caution you that this is not a good model for pricing. In fact, the surest way to kill your book success is to price it to earn back your investment as fast as you can. If that sounds counter-intuitive to you, consider this:
Consumers are price sensitive, especially when it comes to eBooks. A few years ago, Amazon got into a huge pricing dispute with Hachette which became national news. And while there were a lot of facets to this dispute, one of the main ones was pricing. Amazon has said publicly that eBook pricing in particular needs to be modified down, for sales to go up. Pricing your eBook so that it nearly matches your print makes no sense. And while I understand that the return on eBooks is higher and that this pricing model is tempting, you’ll wind up missing out on more sales.
Level 1: So What Should I Do?
Well, let’s start by taking a look at your competition. Have you analyzed similar books in your market? If not, start there and see what other price points you’re finding – you should be in that ballpark. When I spoke to someone from Kindle Direct Publishing, they told me that their sweet spot for eBook pricing is $2.99. If that number horrifies you, then consider this: Let’s say you are marketing like crazy and have your eBook priced at $9.99. Seems reasonable, right? Well that depends on the research you did about what other books are priced at for your market. My instincts would lead me to predict that you’ll be the highest priced book in your genre, which not good for sales. Not only because you won’t sell, but also because you could be promoting the heck out of your book only to help someone else make the sale when they see what other books Amazon recommends that are similar to yours. The reality is this: if your consumer doesn’t know you, they may decide, “Well, I liked the idea of that book but the price is too high so I’ll grab this one instead.”
Level 2: But What About My Print Book?
The same rules apply to print books as well. If you have a print book that’s priced too high, you won’t make sales. The issue with print books is often this: you had your heart set on a hardback, but the hardbacks (especially with print-on-demand printing) are pretty pricey. Additionally, if you have a lot of color interiors, graphics, etc. you may have to forgo your book size preference or format to make a sale. Things to look for are heavy graphics (do you need all of them?), hardcover when you could do paperback, or perhaps you need to find a printer that can do these at a much more affordable rate. This means you may have to shop around.
Level 3: But I want to have a higher priced book, what should I do?
Well you know the old saying: the best way to sell your first book is with your second and so on? What that means essentially is: grow your platform. We all have authors we love, right? We buy all of their books the second they come out. This happens because we are part of their fan base, we love their work and we want to read everything they write. So while the idea of lowering your book price may seem discouraging, it’s not something you will have to live with your entire career. Build your fans, build your email list. Get more reviews! Seriously focus on getting more reviews. If you have twenty that’s ok but it’s not great, you need over one hundred to really start making a dent in your book discoverability.
Start lower and build higher, don’t let the price sensitive consumer pass you by because once you build a loyal following, price will no longer be an issue and they’ll be willing to pay a bit more for a product they know is a sure thing!
Keeping these three tips in mind, you have the tools to choose the right price to encourage consumers to buy your book. While it’s tempting to have a higher eBook price to capitalize on a higher return, and as a reward for all of your hard work, it is possible to select a price that will reward you for your hard work in the long run, and support your sales goals in the short-term.
Penny C. Sansevieri, Founder and CEO Author Marketing Experts, Inc., is a best-selling author and internationally recognized book marketing and media relations expert. She is an Adjunct Professor teaching Self-Publishing for NYU.
Her company is one of the leaders in the publishing industry and has developed some of the most innovative Social Media/Internet book marketing campaigns. She is the author of twelve books, including How to Sell Your Books by the Truckload on Amazon and Red Hot Internet Publicity, which has been called the "leading guide to everything Internet."
To learn more about Penny’s books or her promotional services, you can visit her web site at www.amarketingexpert.com.