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Thursday 13 October 2011

Books, Blogs and Publishing too - Part Three

So, having uploaded my books onto the Amazon servers, you then have to deal with the thorny issue of what price to put on your work. There are obviously a number of schools of thought regarding price, including giving them away for free, in the hope that people will like the author’s work so much that they’ll be prepared to buy their other chargeable books. Alternatively, authors might charge a minimal price, say around 99 cents, in the hope that so many Kindle owners will buy the bargain book that it will all mount up to a tidy sum, after all, isn’t success sometimes based on the strategy of “little and often”? If a writer can sell 10,000 copies of their book at 99 cents each, then it’s still a tidy profit. The third option for author’, is to try and calculate a fair price for their book based on what other comparable books and similarly unknown writers are selling for. I mention that simply because unless you have a massively undeserved ego, few writers are going to compare themselves to the likes of Stephen King, J K Rowling, etc. who have been there, done that and bought the T-shirt.

Considering the possible options for pricing my own books, there was no way I was going to give them away for free, at least not immediately. Quite apart from the time and effort I’ve put into producing them, only the market can really dictate whether or not they’re worth a single red cent and as such it would be foolish to give something away for free, when someone might actually choose to pay you for it. The same argument can equally apply in making the decision to sell your books for a nominal fee, which is typically around 99 cents. Even though some writers and book marketing experts take the view that such a low price can encourage buyers to purchase books they might normally avoid, it’s worth remembering that you’ll have to sell a significantly more to end up with a decent return. In a relatively straightforward equation you’re selling your book for $1 and a rival author is selling theirs for $5, meaning that you have to sell five times as many just to earn the same financial return. Although we’ve all become accustomed to the idea of a bargain, fundamentally it could still be argued that a low price reflects low quality, so if you’re getting a book for nothing or for $1 then should you expect it to be brilliant in every respect. Likewise, the idea that low prices or freebies actually guarantee large numbers of “sales” doesn’t always apply, as why would someone download a book that they don’t want, don’t need or possibly won’t even read?

For me, it made far more sense to calculate a price based on what other similar books were selling for, as at least that way and assuming you’re not competing against a known author, you’re competing on a fairly level playing field. Having previously had a similar pricing problem with a dog magazine that I used to produce, in an ideal world you should be able to equate the selling price to the level of content. In that particular case I tried to work on the basis of around 10p per printed page, which for a forty or fifty page magazine would work out at about £5 per copy, a price that most readers were more than happy to pay at the time. Clearly, such a pricing mechanism isn’t the same for printed books, or indeed for e-books, but it doesn’t hurt for an author to have a vague idea of how much their work is worth to them personally, thereby allowing them to fix a price and to stick to it. Although my own books are not the cheapest, neither are they the more expensive; and the fact that they entirely fit into the non-fiction history category has undoubtedly played a part in the number of buyers that they have attracted thus far. A couple of my books have had rubbish sales, whilst others have done okay, but then again I never had any real expectations of them becoming best sellers, just so long as they earn me regular money, which seems to be the case up to now. That’s where the numbers part of the process comes in though, a sufficient number of books, each earning a sufficient amount of revenue, equates to a sufficient personal income; and if you hoping to be a full-time writer then that’s what you’re looking for, right?

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