Posts Tagged With: kdp

More Tweaks, and some Thoughts on Pricing

Self Publishing Update

Well, it’s been three weeks since the new cover for Blue Gentian launched.  It’s been a wild success.  I’m selling out my Amazon ads almost every day, and I think I’ll keep it.  Trial and error begat success this time (law of averages?  Who knows, but there was bound to be a success eventually).

Whenever my ads sell out, Amazon sends me an email notification and suggests that I up my daily budget.  Right now, I’m telling it no more than $2 a day.  I have not increased this.  Why not, you ask?  Because sales still don’t warrant it.  I’m still in that tenuous territory where I’m ALMOST breaking even, but not quite.  Which means there’s still more work to do.

What am I tweaking next, you ask?  I’m glad you did.

During the $0.99 sale I ran, I sold a grand total of 17 books.  That’s A LOT for me, you guys.  I’m extremely lucky if I sell 17 books in a month, and I was able to do it in 7 days during the sale.  Which suggests to me that I might be able to sell more books if I dropped the price a little.

I want to discuss price, because it’s a complicated issue and I don’t think I’ve explained how I got to my amount for Blue Gentian.  But in case you just want the nitty-gritty and don’t want the whys and wherefores, Blue Gentian will be on sale for $3.99 as a permanent price, down from $4.99, in a few days.  We’ll see if that tweak works in favor of more sales.  I’ll report back.

Now some thoughts about pricing in general:

I considered price carefully when launching Blue Gentian.  I’m a relatively unknown author, and therefore my works will probably not sell at the same price as an established author.  I have to be real about it.  That being said, price also implies quality.  If you’re attempting to give your book away at $0.99 when it’s not sale time, it leaves me wondering if it’s cheap for a reason.  Sometimes the reason is because it’s the first of a series.  I think that’s fine.  But if I don’t know the author and can’t figure out why their book is cheap, I assume it’s because it’s bad.  This has also borne out from my experience.  I’ve downloaded some truly terrible books, guys.  Almost all of them were insanely cheap and by self-published authors.

I’m not denigrating self-publishing.  First of all, I’m a self-published author and take great pride in my work and my business.  Second of all, I have read some AMAZING books by self-published authors.  The difference between the good and the bad?  I have found that good authors expect me to pay a decent, fair market value for their work.  I’m happy to do so.  But price then becomes correlated with quality.  I’m sure I’m not alone in this perception.

This means that how I price Blue Gentian will tell people how good it is.  Also, I know from some research that it’s MUCH easier to price a book down if you make a mistake than to price a book low at first and raise it.  Better to overestimate yourself than to underestimate.  So I decided I would go in at semi-established author rates and cut as needed.

I did a lot of research on well regarded books by self-published fantasy authors and their manuscripts of about the same length (62,000 words in case you were interested).  Most were priced at $4.99.  That’s how I got the starting price of Blue Gentian.  And now that I have some data, I’m going to cut to $3.99 and see how we do.

I might cut again to $2.99 if I see no better outcomes in the next couple of months, but I don’t see going lower than that.  Most other people don’t, even bad authors, since they’re trying to take advantage of the 70% royalty KDP offers on books priced between $2.99 and $9.99.  Blue Gentian is supposed to eventually be part of a series, so it will also eventually go to $0.99 for good when the next books are published (a LONG way off). Still, that means I’m not feeling terribly precious about the price of it.  Whatever gets me the sales, man.

And that’s all I’ve got right now.  Thanks for listening to me about a complicated subject…

 

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Some Blue Gentian Tweaking

Well, my first Blue Gentian experiment didn’t go that well.  My husband suggested that he didn’t think the book blurb was punchy enough, so I rewrote it to sound a little more scandalous.  No dice.  I kept it up for several months, but my sales dropped dramatically during that time.  Like, probably by half.

So, the old copy is back.  No surprises there, and isn’t it wonderful to be a self-published author where I can change things on a whim to see what happens?  And change it back in a snap when it’s wrong?

But, I’m still left with a book that I believe can sell better than it is currently.  So I have plans to tweak something else.

I was discussing the cover with my dad the other weekend, because I was really torn by the poll on which cover to use all those months ago.  Most people, including everyone who had read the book, liked the one I went with.  But everyone who was a fantasy reader liked the second one, with the girl in the hooded cloak.

“You should go with the one that the people who didn’t read it liked,” said my dad.

And it hit like a revelation that he was probably right.  I was thinking that because people knew the book, they would know what was representative of the book.  But what I really needed to be thinking about was not book representation, but book desirability.  Theoretically, the one that hooks and intrigues people who haven’t read the book is the one to go with.   A side I hadn’t considered, but ultimately saw the truth in.

Sometimes my dad is pretty brilliant.

Also, you guessed it.  Blue Gentian is getting a new cover, posted below.  I’ll leave it up for several months and see what we see on the sales.  I’ll report back when I have something to report.  Cross your fingers for me that this works.  I DO kinda love this new version…

blue gentian jpeg

I’m waiting for Amazon approvals before you can see it on the buying page, but I’ll let you know as soon as I know it’s live.  I’m thinking about running a new cover celebratory sale, too.  We’ll see.

 

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Self Publishing: September

Self Publishing Update

Well, I had a much better September than I did an August.  I realized after reviewing the data for my August ads that I was getting many more hits on keywords that tied to authors or book series that were similar to my book, instead of tags like “fantasy,” or “sword.” I also upped my bid on each keyword to be $0.76 instead of $0.66.  For some reason, that made all the difference.  Instead of being in the hundreds of views, I’m now in the tens of thousands of views and I can make some decisions based on actual aggregated data.  Amazing!

My first ad (runaway and subversive print shop copy) didn’t do so well.  People were clicking (31 of them), but no one was buying.  I actually ended this campaign early since it had cost me almost $15 and had brought me no book sales.  It seemed a waste to keep running it.

My second ad (epic fantasy with a strong female lead copy) did fairly well.  I had 42 clicks and sold 3 books.  Since almost 80,000 people saw my ad before clicking this is the data I was able to get: someone would click through to my page after about 1850 people had viewed the ad. Once people viewed the book, about 11 people visited for every one person who bought.

This isn’t great.  Most click-throughs cost me about $0.50, which means that I need my numbers to be more like 5 click-throughs for every buy to just break even.  I’m getting closer to that on my third ad.

Ad number three (LOTR/Little Women mashup copy) is almost where I’d like it to be.  I had 58 click-throughs and sold 8 books.  81,000 people viewed the ad, and so I’m looking at about 1400 people to visit before I get a click-through, and 7 people to look at the page before I get a sale.  Still not where I want to be, but MUCH closer.

I’m rejiggering a few things, per normal.  First of all, I’m only running ads 2 and 3 this month.  I’ve added keywords, too: Robin McKinley, The Hero and the Crown, Jessica Day George, Gail Carson Levine, Ella Enchanted, His Dark Materials, Narnia, and CS Lewis.

Second, I have changed my book blurb to be a little more punchy.  We’ll see if that works out to equal more clicks.  The great thing about self-publishing is that I can change it all back if the other was working better.  Nice.

Lastly, I put up an ask for my friends who have read the book to please leave me a review.  I ran the free promotion almost two months ago, so I feel like people have probably finished the book and maybe just haven’t remembered to review? We’ll see if that’s actually a thing.  Over 100 people downloaded the book, and right now I have 5 reviews, so either people take a really long time to finish things or most people aren’t review-leavers, or they forgot.  We’ll see…

That’s all for this month.  I’ll report back on how that all did next month per usual.  I have modest goals.  I’d really love to have 7-10 reviews by the end of the month, sell more than 11 books, and have a better click-through to buy rate on both ads.

I hope this helps!

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Is a Galley Worth It?

Untitled design

Another publishing update.

I decided on a whim to order a galley copy of Blue Gentian.  Kindle was telling me that my cover photo was too small for the book, and I wanted to see (and maybe better control) what readers would have when they purchased my title.  At the bargain price of whatever it costs Amazon to print the book ($4 in this case), how could you go wrong?

You can’t, basically.

I’m THRILLED I decided to go that route and shell out the bucks for the galley.  It wasn’t the photo on the front that was the problem so much as the lettering that looked a little pixely.  I fixed that and we’ve moved on.

But honestly, that’s not the real reason I’m so relieved that I decided to order a copy.  The real reason was twofold.

One: there were a TON of typos that I just didn’t catch in the e-copy proof of the book.  There’s something about holding the item in your hand and reading through it that makes you catch those stupid periods that are duplicated, or the five times you’ve used “the world” in a single paragraph.  There were so many issues that I think it would have been pretty obvious to someone that the book was self-done.  By getting the hard copy, I was able to remedy that.  There may be typos I still didn’t get, but they’re not GLARING now.

Second: the book didn’t FEEL like a real book.  I was using the same document for the Kindle version and the print version, and so I had done all the stuff you’re supposed to do for the Kindle version – no extra pages up front, many links to my sites, etc.  By putting everything in the back of the book, I made the print version seem like a fake book, I think.  I now have formatted the print version to feel correct.

So, in case you were publishing a book and wondering if it was worth shelling out the bucks for the hard galley copy, I would 100% recommend it.   We’re looking at approximately 3 weeks until this thing is officially released.  I can’t wait.

And in case you’re wondering, I AM ordering a new galley of the updated book.  You know, just in case.

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