Thursday, December 15, 2011

Update On The Pricing Experiment


The 99 cent price experiment didn't do much. Sales had been in a slump, and they returned to their normal range... which may have been due to the sale or not. Especially since I did do some advertising on Project Wonderful. (These ads did not mention the price.) I did get a recognizable bump of three or four sales at the very beginning and end of the experiment.

So my conclusion is that 99 cents as a price point doesn't really do anything by itself. It only helps if you are actively seeking the 99 cent audience -- but since I didn't do that, you can't prove that by me. I also assume it may work if you have an established audience, and those with tighter budgets are already actively waiting for a sale. I do that myself: This very weekend I sent emails to friends about a favorite author who had a backlist title go on sale.

(Oh, and there were NO sales of Anna The Great. Only Have Gun, Will Play.)

Now on to the higher price experiment.

I raised my price everywhere to 6.99 just before I lowered the price at Amazon to 99 cents. (I had some hope that they'd show 6.99 as the list price and the discount as 99 cents -- but no such luck. They did not list it as a discount at all. They only do that when you raise a price, not lower it.)

I have already seen indications that the higher price hasn't hurt my sales at Barnes and Noble -- and may have even helped. The ranking on Have Gun, Will Play rose after I raised the price. It sells very slowly there -- one or two a month. Smashwords recently updated my B&N numbers for November....

And I sold three books within a few days of raising the price! Which is pretty much what happened with the 99 cent price. (And I'd already sold the normal 2 copies at the regular price.)

It will be a while before Smashwords updates the other vendors for that period. I'm eager to see what gives at Apple. In the mean time, Amazon is currently discounting Have Gun, Will Play to an earlier price of 4.95. (Which is higher than I have offered it before, and though sales are slow, it has already made more money than the 99 cent experiment.)

The plan is to leave the full novels all at $6.99 until March, then cut to $4.99. Maybe I'll run a lower sale again at that time, but I'll judge that partly based on how soon I publish more books.

In the meantime, three factors will make it hard to judge the sales:

  • I will be releasing The Man Who Did Too Much, and new releases tend to boost sales. (I also expect to release some other things before the end too, but possibly not soon enough to make a difference.)
  • I will do a short blog tour, end of January, and beginning of February, which should also boost sales.
  • eBooks are on the rise, and there tends to be a boost in sales in January anyway.

Since those three factors all tend to boost sales, I will figure that if I see no boost in sales at all, the price is too dang high. If I see a moderate boost, I'll shrug. If I see a big boost, I'll have to say that a higher price doesn't hurt my sales. (But I will still want to see what happens with the 4.95 price.)

See you in the funny papers.


David Michael said...

I've been pricing my novels at $4.99 since earlier this year. I got the urge last week to raise the price of Gunwitch: A Tale of the King's Coven to $5.99. Obviously, there hasn't been enough time to see if it has made any difference. After New Years, I'm thinking I'll raise the price of my other novels to $5.99, as well. Or, now that you've put yours at $6.99, maybe I'll just copy you. =)


The Daring Novelist said...

$6.95 worked really well for Robin Sullivan, in the fantasy genre.

I picked it just because it was the lower end of what I see on mystery paperbacks.

I myself like the 3.95 price point. That's what I can afford -- but I'll wait for sales. So if the 6.99 works for me, I'll probably have regular sales at a lower price point for those like me.

jnfr said...

Thanks as always for posting your info. It's hard to tease out exactly what's happening when you've got a lot of different variables in play. I look forward to your spring update!