Writers in the Storm

A blog about writing

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January 15, 2018

5 Ways That Playing with Pricing Can Sell More Books

Penny Sansevieri

Arrow pointing up over graph of money

Many authors talk about the complexity of book marketing, but sometimes it doesn’t have to be that hard. Sometimes all it takes is a tweak here or there to give your books a lift.

And with this being a new year, maybe it’s time for a new promotional boost that drives sales!

Adjusting a book price is often the last thing an author thinks of, but it’s a great tool to keep in your book marketing tool box if your book sales seem to be lagging.

You’ve probably heard this from other indie authors, or even experienced it yourself: once your book is on Amazon, it stagnates. You see virtually no movement.

And it’s disheartening to see your hard work just sit there. Believe me, I know. I hear it all the time. And, as an author myself, I understand.

But here’s the good news: it could be an easy fix.

There are lots of things you can consider, but playing with pricing can be a huge trigger to get that needle to move. And here is what you should keep in mind as you explore this option.

1. Be Competitive

I see this a lot — books that aren’t priced competitively with their markets. Keeping in mind what the market will bear, as well as your page count, your book should be priced accordingly.

Sometimes I’ll speak to authors who have their book priced very high with the intent to “earn back” the money they invested in producing it.

That’s a bad plan.

Now you may not have a lot of choice with regards to your print book. Thing like images and graphics can drive up the printing cost, but with your e-book you have a lot more wiggle room.

As you’re doing research, be sure to stay away from authors who are household names, because they can command higher prices. But check out top books, books that are performing well, and find the sweet spot. Then adjust your regular price to match that optimal number.

Remember, it’s never a good idea to price your book outside of what the market can bear.

2. Do Regular Price Rotations

The ability to change your book price is a benefit you have as an indie author. And you want to take advantage of this, because it triggers Amazon’s algorithm and can give your exposure there spikes each time you make a change.

So consider changing your price at least one time each month. By this, I mean shift between the $2.99 and $5.99 sweet spot reported by Amazon sales data.

Unless, of course, you’re doing a special promo, which I’ll discuss below.

3. Make Quarterly Promotional Price Drops

Every three to four months, I recommend that you dip below that sweet spot and do a big, multi-pronged book marketing push to support it.

As a rule, I suggest $.99, but sometimes $1.99 can get you decent exposure too. And you should plan to keep it at that price for a solid 3-5 days.

As part of the marketing push, list this price drop several e-book promotion sites as well.

Don’t forget to promote everywhere — your social media, your blog, your newsletter, any way that you are able to communicate with your audience.

4. Understand the Power of Free

Listing your book as free can be a hard pill to swallow. And I know that if you add up all the hours you spent working on it, you probably couldn’t charge enough for it.

But the thing is, you can’t focus on what you see as your worth or your book’s worth. Instead, you have to focus on what drives sales. And buyers love a good deal.

So definitely consider freebie e-book promotions as well. For these you can drop the price for just a day or two and really promote the hell out of it.

This book marketing strategy is especially effective for indie authors with multiple books. Offering your book for free gets you in front of more readers. And once they love your book, you’ve made a new fan that will continue to buy what you publish.

5. Take Free to the Next Level — Permafree

You may have heard “permafree” before. But what does it mean? Basically, it’s an e-book that’s always free on Amazon.

Enroll in Kindle Unlimited. It’s a good option for indie authors who write in genres that tend to be really popular for KU. Readers who subscribe to the service get the book for free.

Keep in mind, this isn’t beneficial to all authors. So definitely do your research, and then give it a shot if it looks promising. You commit to 90 days at a time.

Another option, albeit an unofficial one, to get a free-to-everyone book on Amazon is to ask Amazon to price-match it.

For this, I recommend choosing an older book, or Book One in your series. Make sure you have published it everywhere. Not sure how to do this? Sites like Draft2Digital and Smashwords offer simple platforms to upload your book and make it free.

These sites will publish the book on sites like Nook, iTunes, and Kobo, among others.

Once your book is free on these other sites, you can notify Amazon by clicking the “tell us about a better price” link under the book details on your Amazon page. Sometimes you have to submit more than once, so be diligent and check back every few days.

And as soon as Amazon lists your book for free, you’ll see it starting to surge up the Amazon ranks (under free e-books).

The key to making this really pay off is to ensure your readers are aware of your other books.

It’s important to keep your About the Author section current and ensure that your Amazon Author Central bio is current as well.

If it’s a series, make it easier for readers to find the paid ones in the series. Achieve this by naming the other books in the description of Book One. And be sure to include a list of your other titles, as well as excerpts and links to any bonus content in each of your books, but especially your permafree title.

If the idea of doing an entire book as permafree is making you crazy, what if you did a free teaser book?

David Baldacci did this with one of his titles, and it worked brilliantly. Essentially, he made the teaser book free (and the teaser book was clearly listed as such, so readers weren’t misled), and the teaser book was free. Within the teaser book, there was a link to his paid title, the full book, which wasn’t discounted at all.

Putting it All Together

Book marketing as an indie author is both complicated and exciting. There are so many options, so many opportunities, and only so many hours in a day. So I think you’ll really have fun with the different pricing strategies I’ve listed here. They’re quick and easy to implement. And most importantly, playing with the pricing can really help give you a sales boost when you feel like you’re doing everything else right and it’s not making those conversions.

About Penny

Author Marketing - Penny Sansevieri photoPenny C. Sansevieri, CEO and founder of Author Marketing Experts, Inc., is a best-selling author and internationally recognized book marketing and media relations expert and an Adjunct Professor with NYU. Her company is one of the leaders in the publishing industry and has developed some of the most cutting-edge book marketing campaigns. She is the author of fourteen books, including How to Sell Books by the Truckload. AME is the first marketing and publicity firm to use Internet promotion to its full impact through online promotion and their signature program called: The Virtual Author Tour™

To learn more about Penny’s books or her promotional services, you can visit her web site at http://www.amarketingexpert.com. To subscribe to her free newsletter, send a blank email to: mailto:subscribe@amarketingexpert.com

Copyright @2018 Penny C. Sansevieri

14 comments on “5 Ways That Playing with Pricing Can Sell More Books”

  1. I think the benefit of this strategy depends on your genre. I've heard YA, mystery and Fantasy authors do very well with this.

    My self-pubbed title (the only one I'm allowed to touch the price of) is Women's Fiction. The fan base isn't as avid, and less price-sensitive. Besides, it's my only WF so far, so I can't see where playing with the price would help much.

    I DO agree that you have to be competitively priced compared to comparable titles...

    Thanks for blogging with us!

  2. Penny is the real deal! I have attended her classes at the yearly writer's conference and I'm amazed at her wealth of knowledge regarding Amazon's algorithms. I always refer to her when seeking guidance on my own project.

  3. This is wonderful info, Penny. I have saved it for when I have e books to sell. [Here's hoping!] I've shared the post online and have already connected with you on social media. All best for a successful year!

  4. As a debut author launching my first novel in less than a month, this is very timely and helpful. Thanks! I'm printing out this post and sticking it in my "promotion and marketing" file.

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