Monday, February 28, 2011

Another pricing experiment: raising my Format book to $2.99

Yesterday I announced my plan to lower my price for Dead Dwarves Don’t Dance from $2.99 to 99 cents in March. That’s an experiment to see how many extra copies I’ll sell, and how much better my Amazon rankings will get. I expect to make less in royalties, but hopefully collect a couple hundred extra readers (and, also hopefully, get some more reviews).
Also in March, I’m going to raise the price of Format Your Ebook for Kindle in One Hour from $0.99 to $2.99. I’ve had numerous comments that 99 cents for this book is too cheap, so I’m going to raise it to see how it does.
I published Format in January for 99 cents and it’s selling very well, 280 copies so far. However, I’ve only made about $98 in royalties.  Here are my monthly sales numbers:

The best sales rank I’ve reached is #5497, but I’ve gotten down to #4 in the Reference/Writing/Writing Skills category. Here are my rankings for the past two months:

I make 35 cents in royalties for each 99 cent book I sell. I make about $2 in royalties for each $2.99 book I sell. In February, I’m selling about 190 copies, or about 6 a day. To match my current royalties I’ll have to sell 32 copies in March, or about 1 a day. I’m guessing I can do that.
With this experiment, I expect to see a worsening of my sales rank, but an increase in royalties. I could be wrong, of course. Will my drop in rank out of the top 10 or 20 in Writing Skills greatly reduce my sales? I don’t know now, but I’ll find out. That’s why it’s called an experiment.
Stay tuned for updates!


  1. Hi Derek,

    I think this stuff is endlessly fascinating. The one thing I wish you could measure would be how many of the readers at the .99 price point are first time readers of your material. Furthermore, it would be even more helpful to know how many of them go on to purchase some of your other work.

    My theory is that if even a modest percentage of those .99 folks are new to you (let's say 25%) and it provokes them to purchase your work in the future, then you've more than made up for what you're losing in royalties by lowering the price.

    Could be wrong, and will probably never know. Still, it's fun to speculate!

    Best of luck to you,


  2. Derek,

    I think this is a good idea. You would want to price your book at $.99 to get the impulse people to buy. Your book is not an impulse book though.

    This book is very different and specific to indies, and if indies are wanting to format their ebooks themselves and do it in as a professional format as they can get, they will want your book.

    Selling it for $.99 or $2.99 is not going to stop the purchases. I even think that you could raise it higher than $2.99 just because it is so specific and there really isn't anything else offered with all the know-hows in one book like this. At least that I have found.

    It will be interesting to see where it goes, but I don't think it will hurt your sales at all.

    Angeline Kace

  3. Angeline has a point. A niche market non-fiction book is a different animal from a genre fiction book. It's not so much a ramp into the rest of your work and it's certainly not an impulse buy. It's something that a very specific demographic will purchase because it tells them how to save a ton of money on something by doing it themselves.

    I was looking at maybe as much as $200 to hire someone to format Violet Skies. Compared to that, the difference between $2.99 and 99 cents just doesn't matter. Now, if you charged $20, of course your sales would tank, but $5? Probably not.

    There's a reason that a 200 page hardcover D&D book costs more than a 1000 page hardcover novel.

    As you know, there are application suites that cost double or triple what other software with similar development time and production costs does. Often that happens because the expensive software is targeted toward a niche market with fewer buyers. The publisher needs to charge more for each copy to break even because they know they will never sell as many copies, and the buyers are willing to pay more because there's little if any alternative, or none that meets their specific needs as well.

    These might not be the best analogies, but I think they serve well enough.

  4. I think you should raise the price to 2.99; I am happy I got it for 99 cents, but it's definitely worth a lot more!

  5. E.J. Wesley is right. Non-fiction people are looking for a certain type of information and if they need it they will pay the cost because of the possible return. Further, when I attempted to sell a few non-fiction books at .99 cents my sales dropped.

    In the end, I appreciate the royalties more than ranking. It makes it harder to brag about sales when they are not over a 1000 but I know stores prefer my royalties more than my ranking on Amazon.

  6. I have I think mentioned this book on just about every single LinkedIn group that relates to self publishing. Most of 'em, anyway. ;) I've gotten to where I just aim people at two books now: Zoe's and yours.

  7. Kevin,

    You have mentioned Zoe's book several times. Can you provide a link?

    I guess I'm still a little confused about the whole formatting issue. I bought Derek's book and intend to use it for converting my short story to Kindle.

    But I've also downloaded Calibre, which should be able to handle the other formats ... or am I on the wrong path?


  8. Kept putting off picking this one up, serves me right for waiting. Ha!

  9. I think you should increase the price. I haven't read the book, but would pay $2.99. A book that gives information such as yours in valuable and people will buy it. I also think the increase of price shows the value of the content in the book.

    The only thing I am wondering since I am writing a non-fiction self help book is do people still want that book in their hand for referencing. I know I like books that I can mark up. But I am old school. And this is a new way of getting books. I guess what I am trying to say is that this is a new introduction to the way we read and people need to warm up to it, so don't get discouraged. The water is just getting warm.

    The Lynne Mack Show @
    Mondays @ 6:00 PM

  10. Hi, Derek,

    Occasionally, I run a post under the Exclusively eBooks label on my other blog (JoanSlingsWords). Later today, I'll be posting about manuscript prep for ebook upload. I'll be citing your book as a prime example of the best of the how-to books.

    Since I'd planned to publish my backlist and original fiction as ebooks, I'd bought several books on Kindle formatting, paying as much as 14.95 for one, and they all pretty much sucked because they were either a rehash of crap you can find posted pretty much anywhere online or they were written from the usual standpoint of "the reader already knows a lot about this stuff so I can skip over some steps." Wrong!

    Your book gives a step by step guide. I found it by doing another keyword search again and discovered it shortly after you made it available. I would gladly have paid much more for it than .99, and I think others will also.

    I'll be posting a review about it on my blogs and on Amazon (just haven't had the time I'm afraid).

    Those who said niche non-fiction is a different animal than genre fiction are correct. When it comes to the value of information, it doesn't matter how long a book is; it matters if the information is correct and user friendly.

    From the purchase of your book, I found you online and have followed your blog ever since. I'll be interested to see if your sales increase even at the higher price point.

  11. All, thanks for the support on this price increase!

    Joan, prethanks for giving me an Amazon review of the book. That's one thing I lack is a lot of reviews for my books. I'm going to have to apply some brain power to solving that problem.

  12. Quick status report:

    36 hours into the price increase and I've sold 11 copies (6 Tuesday and 5 so far today). I averaged 6.6 copies sold in Feb, so only a slight decline.

    This means in less than 2 days I've made $22 in royalties. I earned royalties of $65 in all of February.

    So, things are looking good so far.

  13. Derek, what's the current status on your sales after the price increase? I see that someone left a mean-spirited 1-star. Perhaps a competing author? Course, he bought it for $2.99, so that's a small victory.

  14. Manley, I will have the one week update posted tonight.

    Thanks for telling me about the 1-star review. I responded to the review with an offer to give him personal assistance to rectify the problems. It sounds like he is not following the instructions.

    However, I sure wouldn't mind if some other folks went and expressed their opinion on the book to counter that review. If you want to do that, just click here:

    Respond to one-star review of Format Your Ebook for Kindle in One Hour

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