But of course, the question is: will a cheaper ebook sell a lot more copies, and thus even out the price differential, while at the same time reaching a broader audience (and increasing future sales of future books)?
I've read lots of conflicting advice and opinions on this one. There was a great article in the Wall Street Journal about author Darcie Chan and the success she's had publishing the her ebook, The Mill River Recluse. In the article,
She noticed that a lot of popular e-books were priced at 99 cents, and immediately dropped her price from $2.99 to 99 cents. The cut would slash potential royalties—Amazon pays 35% royalties for books that cost less than $2.99, compared with 70% for books that cost $2.99 to $9.99. But sales picked up immediately. "I did that to encourage people to give it a chance," she says. "I saw it as an investment in my future as a writer." The strategy worked. Several reviewers on Amazon said they bought the book because it was 99 cents, then ended up liking it.
She took some other interesting and smart marketing steps for her book (some of which I might try), and also got some positive mentions on web sites that helped her start to sell a lot more books. Sales started to grow fast. So far she's sold more than 400,000 copies, earning more than $130,000.
Sounds nice. My sales of Tornado Siren have not been quite that strong. Not even close. (Yet.) (Says the perpetual optimist.) And sales have actually dipped quite a bit since the end of the summer, and now they're getting very, very slow. (I've seen NO holiday season boost.)
Hm. So, I wonder, should I lower my price to see if that will help boost sales? It's been at $2.99, but is that making it hard to attract readers who have never heard of me?
And then I read this post on Joe Konrath's blog, a guest post by Elle Lothlorien, who writes about the opposite effect. She found that raising her price on her ebook, Sleeping Beauty, from $2.99 to $5.99, helped boost sales, and made her a lot more money at the same time. Her theory being that people don't value things that they don't have to pay as much for--so you enjoy your expensive cup of coffee from Starbucks partly because you paid more for it.
For authors with one book, it’s worth considering creating “imputed value” first with higher pricing. With a decent novel, this will “prime the pump” with positive reviews from readers who are invested and who want to like your book. This in turn will lead to more sales.
I'm not exactly sure what to do. The nice thing, though, about ebooks is that it's pretty easy to change the price. I've been reluctant to do so, but it feels like I should try something. So I'm going to experiment a little. I'm going to try lowering the price to $0.99 for a month, and then try raising it to something above $2.99, maybe $4.99, and see what happens.