99c: The Results and the Kindle “Indie” Bookstore

Three weeks ago I reduced Mousetrapped‘s e-book price tag from $2.99 to 99c. Before I did, I updated the e-book with details of Backpacked and put the opening chapter as a preview at the end, as the whole point of this is to sell more copies of Backpacked when it comes out next month. This morning I reset all the prices to $2.99 (it’ll probably take a few hours to filter down so if you haven’t yet bought it for sofa cushion change, quick! There may still be time!) and looked at my sales data to see if reducing the price, even for such a short time, made any difference.

It did. For the first week, there was no discernible difference, but for the last two it’s clear the lower price has led to more sales.

Since January 2011, my highest rate of books sold per day (based on total sales for that month divided by the number of days in that calendar month) was 28.9. That was for January which is the busiest month of the year for e-books and not good for comparison, so let’s scratch that. The next highest rate of books sold per day was 27.4, which was in March. The lowest rate of books sold per day was 17.7, in June.

For the first two weeks of this month, with my price at 99c, I was selling 32.8 books per day.

This tells me two things:

If I reduced my price to 99c, I could join the Big Boys E-book Sellers Club, as 1,000 book sales a month every month seems to be the agreed threshold for a successful e-book author. And I could do it with just one non-fiction book. 

If I reduced my price to 99c, I’d have to get a real job. 1,000 e-books at 99c equals a royalty cheque worth around $346 and so I’d much rather sell half that at $2.99 (and so earn over $1,000 on the 70% rate), thanks very much.

It is nice to see things like this though:

(And before you ask, the reason the e-book has a different amount of reviews to the paperback is because to Amazon they’re two different editions thanks to my attempts at updating Mousetrapped back in February. I don’t want to talk about that headache ever again, so let’s not. And yes, I’ve already been in touch with them, etc. etc. Don’t even mention it.)

Also, last week a Twitter follower informed me of the Kindle “Indie” store, a subsection of the Kindle store dedicated to, from what I can gather, books published through Amazon KDP. (There’s an FAQ on KDP that supposedly tells you how books get on there, but it doesn’t give much away.) Because Mousetrapped is a highly rated bestseller in some of its categories, it won a place on the “Biographies and Memoirs” which when Biographies and Memoirs is cycled through to the main page, means I get front page billing. Nice, right?

Well, no. It’s not bad, but it’s not much of anything. The Kindle Indie store is near impossible to find from within the Amazon site, and who would be going there anyway to buy their books? (Well, apart from other “indie” authors who are at pains to support the movement, needless to say.) And it’s not really for “indie” authors or independently published books – it’s just, from what I can see, for books published through Amazon KDP.

So let’s be clear: this store exists as an advertisement, and it’s not the books it’s advertising. (Oh what’s the red arrow of mine pointing to? Oh, yes. The service owned by Amazon that makes these books…)

Over the weekend I made the final interior file for Results Not Typical, and ordered a proof of Backpacked just using the rough draft to see if a little image of a backpack works on the section headings. I’m really looking forward to getting them out there now. After yet another scathing “The bitch didn’t even work for Disney!” review on Amazon.com over the weekend, I cannot WAIT to release a book that doesn’t automatically make a small but vocal section of society completely and hatefully overreact for no good reason. It’s just a book, people!

Find out more about Backpacked here. Want to get an e-mail letting you know when these books are out? Join my mailing list at the top of the page. 

6 thoughts on “99c: The Results and the Kindle “Indie” Bookstore

  1. marshallbuckley says:

    I’m doing a similar experiment at the moment, albeit in reverse, having put the prices of my books up to $2.99/£1.96
    Admittedly, I wasn’t selling the same quantities as you, but the first two months were almost identical in numbers.
    Since raising the price, however, sales have – to put it bluntly – nosedived. That might just be something to do with August being a bad month (I’ve no idea if that’s true or not) but at the moment it’s looking like I’ll have to return to the 99c/99p pricing for the foreseeable future.

    • catherineryanhoward says:

      But your book isn’t out long, right? It took me a year to get anything resembling good sales. I’d leave it at 99c and hang tight until December/January when e-book sales go mental. If you don’t sell them, you know something’s wrong and you can address it, but chances are you will. Then the residual effects of that – higher rankings, more reviews, etc. – should hold you over into the New Year.

  2. C. says:

    Very interesting indeed.

    We have two price points for our fiction at the moment: $2.99 for full-length novels (all currently over 500 pages long in print form) and $.99 for short stories. The full length novels always, always, always sell before the short stories. It hasn’t given us much incentive to lower the novel’s price right now. Maybe 500 pages at $.99 would sell better than 26 pages at the same price point.

    Good to see your experience. And sorry about posting a comment on an older post, but I’ve been reading and the choices are either to respond to a couple older posts, or send you an unnaturally long e-mail with references and everything. Let me know if this bugs you. I’ve really enjoyed reading so far.

    • catherineryanhoward says:

      Not at all-I don’t mind where you comment as long as you do! 🙂 I get an e-mail notification anyway so not to worry, I’ll see it.

      That’s really interesting re: your prices. My plan for 2012 is to move away from the 99c range for full-length anything, and instead use that (and $1.99) for non-full-length titles, like a collection of blog posts or my Self-Printed Shorts, which are excerpts (i.e. the section on e-books) of my self-pub guide. For me, it’s less an issue of value and honestly, more an issue about money. This is my income, and I’d rather sell 10 books and buy a bag of good coffee than sell 100 books and suffer through a jar of instant. 😀

  3. C. says:

    Well, I won’t deny that more income will be nice. We’ve only been doing this since August 2011 and we’ve seen an increase in sales, but I don’t expect much when the most advertising we’ve done so far is have at twitter account and sometimes put up an ad on Goodreads every once in a while. I think most of our visibility comes with have five books up for sale. I know it’s not an aggressive sales strategy, but at the moment my main hope (being the keyword here) is to slowly build a really solid fanbase and word of mouth goes from there.

    I do agree with keeping full-length books above 99c. IMO artists, regardless of whether or not they have trad pub’s blessing, shouldn’t cheapen their work.

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