This self-publishing gig is tough. From hiring an editor and cover artist to deciding whether or not to format books yourself or hire a formatter. (I wouldn’t have thought that necessary until I saw the really pretty formats of some ebooks I’ve purchased. All lovely scroll work at chapter headings and figuring out how to put title and author name on each page of an ereader … but I digress.) You get the idea, there are a lot of decisions to make.
And one of the hardest decisions an author has to make is pricing.
That’s right. Pricing. There are a lot of articles being written on the $.99 phenomenon. This POST offers an hypothesis as to why returns go up when the price goes down. Many authors are also discouraged because they feel pushed into scandalously low prices for their books. It’s not so much about feeling bullied by readers’ expectations that cause me to experiment with pricing … it’s sales.
I’m in this business for readers to find and (hopefully) enjoy my books. I’m not interested in putting in all kinds of time creating characters and weaving stories only to have my books sit in the dark, lonely nether regions of the internet, never to be downloaded to an e-reading device. Nope. I want them out in the world running wild and playing with all kinds of new readers.
This is one pricing list I’ve seen and it makes so much sense:
$0.99 Books less 10,000 words
$1.99 Books 10,001 to 20,000 words
$2.99 Books 20,001 to 50,000 words
$3.99 Books 50,001 to 75,000 words
$4.99 Books 75,001 to 100,000 words
$5.99 Books 100,001 words to ???
Now this might not make sense for everyone or for every book, but it’s a nice starting point. So then the question comes in … Where does FREE fit into this equation? According to some … it shouldn’t. Offering free books gives readers expectations that if they wait long enough a book will eventually be offered free and they will never have to buy another book. I don’t completely agree with that theory. The fact is, any reader has always been able to feed their literary addiction with free (libraries and convention giveaways) and drastically discounted books (garage sales and library book overstocks). Why wouldn’t the savvy digital reader expect the same thing?
For me personally, offering BLIND HER WITH BLISS, the first book in my sexy romantic suspense series for free was the best thing I could have done for sales. In February I reported my self-publishing numbers BEFORE my book went free. In March, I updated my sales figures. Sales continued strong through April … UNTIL I took the first book off the FREE promotion.
As in, I went from selling 20 books a day across all venues to selling 2. (I do realize that early spring is a slow time in general for digital book sales, but I’m sure this isn’t just that flux.) I suspect it has more to do with offering BLIND HER WITH BLISS as a loss leader which is bringing readers to my books. By the end of this month I will be offering it free again. Probably permanently. Yes, I’ve had 11,500 free downloads, but I know authors who have had four times that many downloads in a 2 day FREE promotion. So there are still plenty of readers who haven’t gotten my books.
I won’t do this with all my self-published books. But when a reader emails to tell me that she loved the free book so much she bought the whole series AND three of my traditionally published books … well, that makes me all warm and fuzzy inside. Some argue that free may be good for the individual, but not good for the publishing industry as a whole. I’m not sure. I only know it’s working to build my readership and therefore it’s growing my business.
And in the spirit of full disclosure my APRIL sales:
Free Downloads: 1666
Blind Her With Bliss: 40 books = $39.88
Deceive Her With Desire: 56 books = $110.31
Cheat Her With Charm: 38 books = $76.26
(Avg 35% drop in sales)
Barnes & Noble
Blind Her With Bliss: 177 books = $106.20 (through Smashwords)
Deceive Her With Desire: 51 books = $98.94
Cheat Her With Charm: 36 = $69.84
(Avg 40% drop in sales)
The month of May is dismal. I’ve sold a total of 30 books at Barnes & Noble, 36 at Smashwords and 35 at Amazon. The numbers speak for themselves.
You know, it occurred to me I’ve never shouted out about my print book Dangerous Affairs. It’s a print anthology of BLIND HER WITH BLISS, DECEIVE HER WITH DESIRE and CHEAT HER WITH CHARM.
I thought I’d share some of my favorite lines from these stories:
BLIND HER WITH BLISS:
1. The loss of her best friend had ripped away a piece of her heart and Julie doubted the ache it left in its wake would ever subside.
2. Wind whistled past the tinted visor of Damon Corey’s helmet, but it couldn’t muffle the roar of the chrome dual exhaust. Noise equaled power, and at the moment, he had both.
3. If you’re looking for the person I was last night, well, you’re in for a big surprise. He’s as fake as Santa Claus.”
The tip of her tongue darted out to wet her full lips. “I still believe in Santa Claus.”
4. Until she understood how Damon, Jason and Elvis were connected—-and Julie did believe they all knew each other—-she would troll the waters of Damon’s sexual past with caution. No sense baiting a shark without the right equipment to catch him.
DECEIVE HER WITH DESIRE:
5. “I did a nice job? Me? You were the one sneaking up like some pirate looking for lost treasure.”
The woman had no idea how close to the truth she was.
6. “We’ll get the drug arrest straightened out, Dee. Don’t worry,” said Julie.
And just like that the family unit solidified as the Tilling clan circled the wagons.
7. “Too much vending machine coffee and not enough sleep.” He popped a couple of tablets. Yeah, not even close to the truth. The fact was, when the Jameson deal went down, there was no way Ayden was going to be able to walk away from the sexy redhead who’d crawled into his bed and wrapped herself around his heart.
CHEAT HER WITH CHARM:
8. Meghan Tilling’s body quaked with fear and the bone-chilling thirty-eight degrees of the cooler where she was trapped. She pressed her forehead against the icy metal of the door, her palm caressing its pebbled surface, trying to fight the panic lurking like a sinister shadow and threatening to overwhelm her in despair.
9. Peter had lied to Meghan about staying put in a hotel today. He’d lied to the guy at the rental counter at the airport about a family emergency just to get one of the last four wheel drive vehicles left in the lot. More importantly, he’d lied to himself that this whole damn catastrophe-waiting-to-happen wasn’t going to derail his relationship with his fiancée.
10. She wasn’t sure how it sounded, but Peter’s own embarrassment and hurt added to the confusion clouding their discussion. “I didn’t say that. I—”
“No, you didn’t say anything. Your expression says it all.”
“Peter, if it’s something you want to try, I’m willing to—”
“Forget it.” Peter held up his hands as if to shield himself from her judgment. “I just thought it might be fun to try something different.” He backed away from her. “You’re right. It’s not something normal couples do. Seriously, just forget I mentioned it.”
11. And though Peter loved his fiancée with a fierceness that clawed at his soul, lately even Meghan’s love couldn’t fill the growing chasm in his heart. He wanted it to. God, how he’d tried to ignore the gnawing in his gut–the cold emptiness that was sated only when Meghan was in his arms.
So it’s been a month since I shared sales figures for my self-published romantic suspense series. In the spirit of full disclosure I thought I’d share what’s happened since I put the first book in my series up for free! I have to tell you, there are still LOTS of people who cringe that authors are doing this for fear it may set up 1) unrealistic sales expectations for readers or 2) that it is devaluing the time and talent required to write a full novel. But as you’ll see, this is working for me.
I didn’t enroll these short novels in the Kindle Select program where Amazon asks for exclusivity to any books in that program. They also offer authors the opportunity to take advantage of 5 free days during the 90 day period it is in the select program. This just didn’t seem to fit for my books and I chose to upload my book through Smashwords and have it distriubted for free to all venues save for Amazon. Once the lower price was reported to Amazon, my book was price matched at the $0.00.
And I want to repeat what I said last month. There are many authors making goooood money through self-publishing. Some of these authors are even being courted by Amazon to pull their book from the virtual self-publishing shelves and sign a contract with their Montlake publishing arm. There are many success stories, including Debra Holland, who has also been forthcoming about her sales success with her self-published series. But remember it ain’t all roses and royalty checks for everyone.
And there isn’t one right path to success in the self-publishing business. What works for me and my books, may not work for you. The only consistency is writing the best book you can and making sure it not only is well-edited, but also presented in the correct format for the platform whether it be kindle, nook, sony or iTunes. So don’t hesitate to try different price points or different methods of promotion. Find out what works for you.
Listing the first book in my sexy romantic suspense series, BLIND HER WITH BLISS has been a real boost for promoting my books. Following are the sales I posted last month for books released 4/11, 6/11 and 11/11. (Sales figures are just for Amazon, because there weren’t enough others at B&N, Smashwords or ARe to make an impact on my royalties.)
December: 136 books = $142.80
January: 74 books = $84.22
February (until the 20th): 4695 free books 20 books = $40.00 (approx.)
And here are the sales for the full month of Feb and March (to Date). And just a note, I took my books down from All Romance Ebooks because they really weren’t selling over there:
Free Downloads: 6280
Deceive Her With Desire: 73 books = $76.65
Cheat Her With Charm: 62 books = $65.10
Barnes & Noble
Free Downloads: 2319 (through Smashwords)
Deceive Her With Desire: 87 = $168.78
Cheat Her With Charm: 56 = $108.64
Apple (through Smashwords)
Total Books: 264 = $448.85
(That’s if I’m reading my Smashwords report correctly. It’s the first time I’ve had sales there, so I’m trying to figure this one out)
So there you have it. It may not be the blockbuster sales other authors are experiencing, but seeing as March is turning out to be my most successful month ever, I’m extremely pleased. I whole-heartedly believe that offering my book for FREE! is working for me. BLIND HER WITH BLISS floats between 15 and 30 on the free romantic suspense list right next to the PAID list. And 25 to 40 on the contemporary list. (It was lower on both lists at the beginning of the month when downloads were at their peak.) Being listed next to the paid books means that readers who search particular categories may peruse books listed for free as well.
B&N doesn’t have a ranking system, but I have no doubt it is the free book that allowed readers to try out a new-to-them author and brought about the sales of the second and third books in the series. Since I haven’t seen any sales at that venue prior to this, it is the only thing I can attribute my sales success this month.
Again, this method might not work for you. But with my sales the highest they’ve ever been, I know offering the first book in my series is working for me. Writers, have you tried something different that worked to get your books noticed? As a reader, what makes you willing to try a new author you’ve never read before?
I’m hanging out today on the beach with Jane Ormerod talking about favorite authors and drinking Mai Tais.
And I don’t know if you’ve been having trouble accessing my blog and website, but there seems to be something amiss in the coding somewhere. My webmistress (whom I absolutely adore) thinks the problem is somewhere in the blog files on GoDaddy. Unfortunately she doesn’t work with WordPress and the wonderful person who did the original coding is no longer in the business. I’m working hard to find a new blogmistress. In the meantime, be patient if you can’t seem to find me. I’m still here and hopefully will have the problem corrected soon!
And in other promotional news:
DANGEROUS AFFAIRS, the Tilling Passions anthology is now available in PRINT!
Back Cover Information:
BLIND HER WITH BLISS
She’s trying to find herself. He’s attempting to hide. Together they’ll discover a truth that threatens them both…
Investigating the death of her best friend, uptight accountant, JULIE TILLING, discovers an erotic world of adult nightclubs and Internet intrigue. When shock jock DAMON COREY rocks her world in a wild night of lust, she wonders if she’s found love…or the key to solving a murder.
DECEIVE HER WITH DESIRE
A woman determined to protect her heart. An agent hell bent on proving himself. One night that will change their lives forever…
Landscaper, DEIRDRE TILLING had no way of knowing that attending her friend’s party would throw her into a dangerous world of corrupt businessmen and police stings. Of course her sexual romp with undercover DEA agent, AYDEN SCOTT only pushes her deeper into the drug smuggling ring running up the Maine coast. As the heat rises between Deirdre and Ayden, one thing becomes painfully obvious…their relationship has jeopardized his mission and now someone wants them both dead.
CHEAT HER WITH CHARM
He’s got a secret past. She has dreams for their future. Together they have a problem that may just kill them both…
Floral designer, MEGHAN TILLING, has been in love with her fiancé since college. With her business, his promotion and a family illness, she’s finding the demands on her time are keeping them apart. PETER MADDOCK loves his fiancée with a fierceness that claws at his soul, but finding answers to his past becomes an obsession he can’t ignore. When bizarre accidents threaten Meghan’s life, he wonders if his secrets have finally caught up with him. Can they both discover the truth without paying the ultimate price …their lives?
I hope you’ll check it out. Have a wonderful weekend everyone!
It’s been awhile since I caught you up on all the news. So I’ll start with a sharing a 4.5 STAR Review from Dark Diva Reviews. Jae said:
A roller-coaster of emotion and some of the most emotionally dramatic BDSM scenes I’ve read in quite a while are contained within Invitation to Ecstasy by Nina Pierce. Ms. Pierce’s writing is very enjoyable. There’s a terrific balance of down-to-earth narrative, humor, and intensity that draws the reader along from the very first page.
The book is available at Ellora’s Cave and Amazon
And Deceive Her With Desire has recently received two accolades.
It came in third in the suspense category of the Judge a Book by it’s Cover Reader’s Choice Contest hosted by the Houston Bay RWA. I would like to thank all the readers who took time to vote in this wonderful contest. Of course all the credit for the beautiful design goes to my cover artist DAR ALBERT. She’s the bestestest! I shout her praises everywhere because she’s so very talented!
This same book has also FINALED in the Gulf Coast STAR Contest in the novella category (which they define as any book under 40,000 words). w00t! w00t! I’m honored. I’ll find out next month exactly where it placed.
And the print book for all three Tilling Passions stories titled DANGEROUS AFFAIRS has finally met all the proofing requirements and should be available on Amazon by the end of the week and available in a bookstore near you by mid-April!
And on a personal note, Mr. Nina has a couple of job interviews this week. One of them is near our family in Maine. (Totally crossing my fingers that that one results in a job offer.) So there you have it, all the news and more. So what’s new with you? Anything worth dancing over?
There are days when I feel I never get away from the Internet to get other stuff done. Between Twitter and Facebook and blogs I visit, I roam the virtual cybersphere and yet … I seem to miss all the
fun controversy. I guess last week people were all up in arms about self-publising and Amazon’s moves to slowly take over the book selling market.
I don’t know about that. I do know they’ve made it easy for a person to self-publish print books. And they’ve made it even easier for authors to publish digitally. Really, there is no super-sekret formula … just upload a manuscript and a cover and voila! within 24 hours your book will be for sale! Yes, you can do this through other venues, but I have to say, I really like Amazon’s ranking system. There’s no greater satisfaction than seeing your book climb the ranks. Now they’re trying a new program, Prime Membership for readers and on the author side it’s called Kindle Select. Readers and authors are tentative about this program. Some are loving it and others … not so much.
But Amazon is trying. They are seeing the face of publication changing and they’re trying to be on the cutting edge of that change. Good for them. They’re not stupid. With big name authors like Joe Konrath supporting their efforts, it seems to me they’re going to be the front runners when everyone else is floundering. Does this make them bad or greedy? I don’t think so. It makes them smart. As in Apple smart. Always leading the pack, not the one running and out-of-breath trying to catch up.
And though I like what Amazon is doing for readers and authors alike, I just want to say, it ain’t all roses and royalty checks for everyone.
There are many authors making LOTS of money (as in quitting their day jobs and writing fulltime) going the self-pubbed route through Amazon. But there are a whole heck of a lot more of us taking our monthly royalty check from Amazon and buying a cute necklace from Kohl’s that just went on sale … on the clearance rack. So you get the picture. Now, please don’t hear this as complaining. It’s not … well, not totally. Wait, no really, I’m not complaining. I just want people to understand that it is possible their book(s) will take off, but it’s just as likely it won’t. Even if you do the same marketing strategies successful writers do. *shrug* It’s just how it is.
Now, in the spirit of full disclosure, let me give you some sales figures for the last three months for all three of my books (released 4/11, 6/11 and 11/11). (And this is just for Amazon, because it’s not worth my time to share with you my sales from B&N, Smashwords and ARe)
December: 136 books = $142.80
January: 74 books = $84.22
February (to date): 4695 free books (YAY!) 20 books = $40.00 (approx.)
Why am I sharing this sales information with you? I think authors play it too close to the vest. When authors are looking to make an informed decision it means … they need the information. I think it’s easy to find GREAT sales information. You know, those authors that sell 136 of each of their books every day. It makes many authors who are sitting there with 4 books sold in a month–because that’s the typical sales on Amazon–feel inadequate. Like “what am I doing wrong?” The answer is probably nothing. Even the big 6 publishers can’t tell you why one of their books is doing better than another. Now we’re the publisher … we just have to do the best we can.
I do like Amazon. I like that they have world-wide distribution. I wish I could boast sales on the other venues that were as good as my Amazon sales. But that doesn’t seem to be the case, even when I try to market my books at those venues.
Is Amazon going to take over all publication and distribution of books in the near future? No, it’s not going to happen. But other publishers and booksellers will need to stop doing things the way they’ve always done them and think ahead or they’re never going to catch up.
What do you think as a reader/writer? Does it make you a little noodgie the way things are going with Amazon? Are you worried about what is happening? Because you know me, I’m curious about that kind of stuff.
The Houston Bay Area RWA chapter is sponsoring JUDGE A BOOK BY IT’S COVER contest. There are over 170 books in 8 different categories.
The wonderful thing about the contest is that each cover is judged on its own merit. There is no voting for only one cover per category. It’s not a popularity contest, but a true reader’s choice in voting. I have entered Deceive Her With Desire in the romantic suspense category.
I hope you’ll take a few moments and go over and VOTE!
Now don’t get me wrong. Putting books up on Amazon and Barnes & Noble is so easy, you can do it without losing much sleep. BUT I went further and uploaded it to All Romance Ebooks which required downloading Calibre and formatting issues and … in the name of all that is Holy, I should have paid someone to do that for me. LOL!
And did I learn anything from that. Ohhhh nooooo … Nina thought it was a good idea to combine the three books in the Tilling Passions series and put them out in print. I know, right? … what the hell was I thinking? Because here’s the thing. I didn’t choose some easy single manuscript to upload, but an anthology. Now think about anthologies. They come with title pages and different headers and hidden page numbers and … a whole frickin’ lot of hidden problems that I didn’t anticipate. Let’s just say I jumped in on Friday. Worked all day and night Saturday (like until 4 am) and got right back at it on Sunday morning by 8. The pages are FINALLY loaded this morning.
So what did I learn?
1. That my high school typing teacher had no idea that setting margins would get so friggin complicated.
2. Word 2007 is an evil empire hell bent on keeping secrets from its users.
3. That when you ask for “advanced word help” it seems everyone only knows the basics.
4. I had no idea that gutters weren’t just for removing water from the roof.
5. Headers and Footers are magical environments where the normal laws of Word don’t apply.
6. That just because Createspace says you can upload an rtf they forgot to mention … it doesn’t really work.
7. I’m so damn stubborn and every time I said “one more upload” it didn’t mean anything when it didn’t work.
And lastly …
Writing a book is only hard until you decide you want to self-publish it.
And that’s what I did this weekend. How was yours?
So today I have to think about doing some Christmas shopping. Mind you, I used the word think. I haven’t quite gotten to the actual motion of doing it, but hey, we’re counting down to a little less than 3 weeks and … what the heck? I’m not in panic mode … yet!
In the meantime, my crazy blog tour continues, with the accolades for DECEIVE HER WITH DESIRE continuing to roll in from the reviewers.
You can find another excerpt at Cocktails and Books and The Wormhole. Who also gave me a most awesome 4 STAR review and said…
Fantastic story! I fell in love with the characters. Ayden is fabulous, Deirdre is amazing. I wasn’t sure what to expect when I started reading this one, but I was pulled in and couldn’t put it down. It’s a love story, but so much more than that. It tells a tale of love and loss, deceit and trust, faith and friendship. It questions what a person is willing to do for someone they love. I wasn’t expecting the twist at the end. I’m usually good at picking how the plot will play out, but I was so caught up in the romance and the relationships that I wasn’t looking for the end to come.
Well written, edgy and romantic. I went and bought books 1 and 3 as soon as I read the last page of Deceive Her with Desire ~ can’t wait to have time to read them too!
I don’t usually post the whole review, but that one makes me all warm and fuzzy.
And if I haven’t given you enough places to check out the second book in the Tilling Passions series, you can skip over to Sara Makala’s Blog for some more excerpt and promo goodness. DECEIVE HER WITH DESIRE is on sale during this whole blog tour for a mere 99 pennies. Heck, you can find that in the couch cushions or under you car seat. Wai…what? You actually vacuum your couch and your car. My bad.
Later folks. I’m headed out to my monthly writer’s meeting. Can. Not. Wait. They always motivate and inspire me. And my muse knows, I’m in desperate need of both!