Don’t Sell It Too Cheap

As part of my investigation into self-publishing yesterday, I ran across this blog post by one of the successful independent authors mentioned on Expert Message Group: Why Your Novel is a Tall, 6-Pump Vanilla, Breve Latte Grande, Extra Hot, Heavy Whipping Cream, Extra Dry Cappuccino (Or It Should Be). The author, Elle Lothlorien, did an actual experiment with her book, comparing her sales when it was cheap, versus when it was more expensive.

She not only made more money when it was considerably more expensive, but she made more sales and had better reviews.

She likens it to over-priced Starbucks coffee: if something is expensive, people will think it’s good whether it is or not. I think there’s something to that logic, although I think it’s probably more of the other thought, which is that cheaply-priced work is associated with amateur writers.

(I just had a sudden vision of the hooker theory: the cheaper the hooker, the more she’s associated with drugs, alcohol, and venereal diseases. High-end call girls offer the exact same product, but the perception is that they’re clean and are decent enough that you can be seen in public with them.)

Expensive = good is not the way I approach reading books. I shop at thrift stores and yard sales and used bookstores (my husband and I recently dropped about $80 in credit at McKay’s in Knoxville). I like a bargain, and I know that perfectly good stuff can be found in less than upscale places.

And, as my Dave Ramsey bumper sticker once said:

(That’s past tense because said sticker got ripped off my former vehicle, not because I changed my mind about debt.)

I know I’m weird. I know I don’t shop or manage my money like the average American. So I almost certainly should not use myself as an example of how people shop for books. I think Ms. Lothlorien is probably correct: most people give more consideration to higher-priced items because there is a perceived value based solely on the price.

So, after giving this some thought, I decided to experiment for myself. I originally listed The Last Golden Dragon for 99 cents because it’s a short story and I didn’t think anyone would pay more than that for it–despite the fact that one of my pre-readers suggested that I charge more because he said he’d be willing to pay more for it.

It’s been available for almost two months and I’ve had 18 purchases (I’m excluding free downloads because all the rules of snobbery are broken when stuff is free). I just upped the price a dollar, so let’s see if I have more sales (or make more money; I’ll consider either a success) in the next two months.

Something else I need to work on is my Facebook page. I started it, but let it languish (new posts are announced on it automatically, but that’s all the activity that happens on it) because Facebook did not make it easy for me to access and use. But they seem to have corrected that problem. What’s more, I have 49 Likes. I estimate only about half of those are friends and family, because I think the last time I checked the numbers on it (when it was nothing but friends and family) it was about 23. I haven’t been advertising it on the blog, so I’m wondering where those 25 or so people came from.

That’s probably a sign I should make better use of it. And to that end, I’m off to do some research on what, exactly, you should write on your Facebook page to keep people interested in your brand, but not annoy the hell out of them.

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