I’m part of a tiny press, and we’d never done a sale before where an e-book had been set for free for a short time, so doing so with Soul Cages gave us some valuable information for future temporary sales.
First off, the Sony eBookstore and iTunes were terrific in responding in a reasonable amount of time to the change of the price to Free, and then ending the sale after we raised the price back to $4.99. Considering that the pricing was being done through Smashwords, this was an impressive turnaround time. We’d do a sale with them again in a heartbeat.
We also confirmed that it takes a while for a free version to get over to Barnes & Noble, and also confirmed that a different e-bookstore (not Barnes & Noble) tends to be irritatingly sloooooooow in responding to price hikes after a sale is over.
If you want Amazon to match the temporary sales price set at Free, Barnes & Noble and iTunes tend to be key markets that need to be part of the sale. We decided we’d learned enough already and stopped the free sale at Barnes & Noble before it could begin. We had no need to trigger a free sale at Amazon this time around.
I strongly advise any tiny press planning a temporary sale to be careful about which e-retailers you do it with. Most will honor your request to raise the price back up once the sale is over, but there’s one or two out there that will drag their feet for months, and you’ll probably have to file a complaint with Smashwords Customer Support to contact those e-retailers to get them to cooperate and raise the price back up.
So you may want to think carefully about which e-retailers have your e-book in their inventory if you’re going to do a temporary sale. One option is to do the sale at the very beginning when an e-book has just been published, then wait until after the sale is over to ship the e-book at the regular price to those few e-retailers that have a pricing behavior problem. That way you can do a temporary sale as a marketing strategy when the e-book is first released, then get coverage in all e-stores later on.
Another option is to avoid certain e-retailers entirely for e-books if you want temporary sales to be done for that e-book on a regular basis. But remember to weigh the convenience of doing so against the disadvantage of lost sales if that e-retailer can get you into markets otherwise inaccessible.
But no two e-books are alike, so what works best for one e-book is not the same as what works best for another.
Posted in Business of writing, L. M. May, News
Tagged Business of writing, e-publishing, Free stories, L. M. May, L. M. May news, Markets, Money, self-publishing, Soul Cages
There’s a great article by Kristine Kathryn Rusch on the usage of “free” for ebook promotions. Make sure to read the comments section for the useful information being shared there right now.
Thanks to information shared with me behind the scenes, we’ve stopped the experiment with “Parallels.” I was looking forward to testing out how fast price changes travel, but there turned out to be an unexpected issue. Depending on how a sale is set up and which distributors it goes to, the sale can go on for months after it was supposed to stop.
Unfortunately, the way “Parallels” is currently distributed, that likely could have happened to it. So instead a different experiment will be done in a month or two, where a free short story (that ties into a novel) will get shipped off into the world that will stay free permanently.
We’ve also got some ideas on how to deal with the “temporary sale price becoming a near-permanent sale price” issue and will probably try one out next year.
And yes, I’m being deliberately vague here. I will say that this is only a potential issue if the ebook is being distributed on many different e-retailers at the same time. It’s a bit like herding cats–it can be difficult to get them all to move in the same direction.
I highly recommend that a tiny press or indie author use a short story first to test where possible snafus might show up in doing a temporary sale.
A writer friend of mine, R. G. Hart, did a blog post about his favorite memory of Halloween and listed his favorite movies and stories. Then at the end of the post he put together a collage of ebook covers in different sizes. Many of the writers in the collage are both traditionally and indie published, some have won awards, some have hit the bestseller lists on the Kindle or Barnes & Noble, and all of them are having a wonderful time experimenting with indie projects. I’m in the collage as well, but it’s the sight of so many talented writers getting to experiment that makes me smile.
Oddball and niche projects that are unappealing to traditional publishers don’t have to sit in a drawer anymore. And yet that oddball project can be the perfect opportunity to take risks and grow as a writer. Kristine Kathryn Rusch talks about the importance of this in her latest blog post today, Believe in Yourself.
In case anyone missed it, here’s Barbara Freethy’s announcement about hitting the 1 million mark in self-published ebooks sold in 2011. Here’s a brief quote from the PR release:
Unlike independently published authors who publish at the $0.99 price point to fuel sales, Freethy’s books are primarily priced between $2.99 and $5.99. Her self-published books come from her extensive backlist, whose rights were reverted after the books went out of print. Freethy repackaged the books and put them on sale again, finding gold in books that had been taking up space in her closet”
The full PR announcement is at:
I notice she’s selling not only through Kindle, but also made sure to have her ebooks on the Nook, Kobo, Sony, and Smashwords. Also has a deal with Overdrive.
Just for fun, let’s calculate what that is in cold hard cash. If we take a 70% cut of $2.99 for a self-published ebook, that’s about $2.09 per book. Sell 1 million ebooks at $2.99, and that’s $2,090,000.
Nice! This is fascinating times we live in.
Thanks to Passive Guy and David Gaughran for getting the word out.