Interesting Blog Post Analyzing ebook Pricing

Bonus Friday night post for you:

I was doing a little bit of web surfing about marketing ebooks on Amazon and came across a useful blog.  After reading a few articles, I realized that I recognized the name from Mythic Scribes.  Pretty cool.

Check out this article.  Kevin does a statistical analysis of the top 200 best selling SciFi books on Amazon, looking at whether they’re indie or traditional and at the prices.  It’s good info!

Even better, he examines fantasy here.

In this article, he advocates that you do basically no marketing until you have enough books out to make the effort worth it.  In a way, I can kind of see his point.  From a time versus benefit standpoint, marketing a single book seems like a waste of time compared to doing the same thing for multiple books.  Combine that with the fact that there are few “one book breakouts,” and he makes a compelling argument.

On the other hand, I do have some counterpoints:

1. The trend seems to be that books experience a burst of sales upon release.  It seems like the expected curve for the self published author goes: Big spike at release -> Drop off to almost nothing -> Rising to some relatively steady level over time -> Growth with the release of new books

It seems like trying to capitalize on that initial burst is a good thing.  If you can expend a bit of effort and take that book into the Amazon Top Ten for its category, you’ll get a bunch of sales that you otherwise never would have had a chance to get.

2. Every customer you get today is a strong potential sale for a future book.  Thus it seems to make sense to try to reach as many customers as possible now.

3. It seems like it would be a soul crushing experience to have your book, that you worked so hard on and put so many hours into, giving you almost no tangible benefits.


5 thoughts on “Interesting Blog Post Analyzing ebook Pricing

  1. Hey, Brian! Glad you enjoyed the articles. 🙂

    My reasoning around suggesting writers wait to do heavy push marketing (until they have at least a few books up) is pretty simple. You suggest expending a “bit of effort” to break the top ten in a category. The problem: the top ten in every category tend to be dominated by “name” writers. It’s very hard for an indie book to break the top hundred in a genre, let alone the top ten. If you have a platform of a thousand plus people waiting to buy your book, yes you CAN do that. But that’s pretty much what it takes.

    If you don’t have that (and most newer writers don’t), then you’re unlikely to “break big” on your first few books. It takes time to build audience (and an email list of fans). It takes multiple books.

    Also, unfortunately, every reader you get for book one is probably NOT a reader for future books, unless book two is coming out a week or two later. If you wait even six months to release the next book, that reader, assuming s/he only read one work you wrote, will have forgotten about you. The key is to get a reader to like one book, check to see what other books you have, buy those as well, and THEN, after reading three, or five, or eight of your works, THEN you have a fan. 😉 That reader will buy everything you write, assuming you maintain quality.

    So if you write a book, then market that book heavily (which costs you writing time), you will sell more copies of that book. But you’re spending time doing that which isn’t being spent writing (creating more product). And so by the time you get another book out, you’ll be forced to market like mad all over again, regaining the interest of all those people. It’s not a very time effective way to market. It does push some early sales, which feels good. But in the long run, you’re probably slowing your career growth.

    Best of luck with the writing!

    • Kevin,

      You made great points, and I don’t 100% disagree with any of them.

      Keep in mind here that a) I’m not a marketing guy and b) I’m still in the middle of doing research. I haven’t got around to looking into this yet, but a book I read suggested putting my book in categories that aren’t dominated by the big names, even if those categories aren’t the “best” fits for the book or even in the fantasy subcategory.

      I’m not sure that your point about the future reader is valid for series. Of course, in my reply, I did not mention that my first book is the first of a series. From my experience, if I read and like a book in a series, I’m going to search out the sequels.

      One final thought: I agree that effort in marketing takes away from writing, but it’s not a pure 1 to 1 ratio. I have daily and weekly writing goals. Once I accomplish those goals, I step away from the keyboard. Occassionally, I’ll press forward to get more done, but, overall, that’s it. If the marketing is coming out of other free time activities, like the time I used to devote to fantasy football, I’m not sure it’s a big deal.

      Thanks for the comment and the wonderful articles.


  2. Pingback: Honest opinions on my price? - Page 3

  3. I agree that sometimes putting your book in a smaller category can help a lot. You do need to be somewhat careful about that, of course; putting a new horror book in historical romance may not help much (or vice versa!). But finding lesser known categories that still fit the book can work for you.

    For series work, I too will almost always go read the rest of a series if I like the first one. I read one Harry Dresden book and promptly went out and bought the next…six or so? However many it was I was behind. Read them all in about a week. 😉 And I’m a fan of the series, now, no doubt. It was that experience of taking in a stack of those stories all together that made me one, though.

    The problem with one book authors is they don’t have anything else out for readers to find. That’s a huge issue, because if they then wait a year before releasing the next book, most of the people who liked their last one will have moved on and forgotten the first. Now, some books are so stunningly unforgettable that the reader will watch for the next release like a hawk. But most are not, and hooking readers as fans usually requires them being able to read multiple works.

    As for marketing and time… Suppose you cut the marketing time in half, say. And then dedicated the rest of that time to writing, and increased your daily and weekly writing goals? Plus, honestly, it sounds like you’re “doing it right” (still making writing the priority). Mostly I was talking about people who write one book, then proceed to spend most or even all their former writing time flogging the book on social media. It’s not very effective, and it drops your production of new material to a crawl. You, on the other hand, sound like you’re making the new work a priority, and slipping in promotion time out of your free time, when you want to. That seems like a pretty reasonable way to go, at least from my viewpoint! 🙂

    • Kevin,

      I’m also doing something else that seems to be against conventional wisdom: I plan releasing my second book in a different genre. I have plans for a scifi adventure that I think I can release late next year.

      Again, I don’t know if it’s a good idea, but that’s my plan.

      Thanks again for the comments.


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