Countdown to Book Launch – 10 Days!

My revised print copy has been accepted by CreateSpace and I reviewed it online; it looks fine. But I’m paranoid, so I’ve ordered myself another proof copy, just to make sure. Somewhere in Charleston, SC, someone is inputting it into the magical book-making machine.

I’ve set my prices. I’m starting the e-book out at $4.99. The British print edition is £8.99, the European print edition is €9.99, and the U.S. print edition is $10.99. I’m only making about $1 on each print edition (versus about $3.50 per e-book), but I cringe at high book prices (in 2008, the average price for a soft-cover book was $15.64!). Considering that it’s only available online, which means S&H costs, I think I better keep the price low to make it more attractive. With shipping, it will cost the same as most books in a brick-and-mortar store.

From what I’ve been reading, it’s better to have the price of the e-book a little high ($2.99 is about average for self-published e-books; traditionally-published e-books start at about $9.99). A lot of people are actually turned off by a price that’s too low because they automatically think it’s crap.

But there’s some wiggle room there. Some people find they sell much more (and make more money, overall) at the $2.99 price point. What works best depends on a combination of factors: genre/book topic, author pull, amount and quality of the reviews, etc. Playing with the price point to find optimal sales figures seems to be a requirement.

Some people say you should never offer a book for free on Amazon because it generates more negative reviews. Oddly enough, if a book is very cheap or free, people grab it up without thinking, then are disappointed that it’s not what they thought and they write a bad review (Catherine Ryan Howard said on her blog that she has a problem with some people not reading the description of her books and then being angry that they don’t contain what they thought they ought to contain.) Pricing a book higher gives people pause and makes them do more research; the people that buy it are more likely to like it.

On the other hand, some people have found that they had a breakthrough (meaning their sales exploded) after offering their book for free–especially when they offer the first book in a series for free. Again, there are a lot of factors at work, so you never know what you’re going to get.

Because I’m also publishing on Smashwords, I won’t have the ability to make my book free on Kindle, but Smashwords does allow me to offer coupons, so stay tuned here for future offers; I have a few planned for this year.

4 comments on “Countdown to Book Launch – 10 Days!

  1. Wallace says:

    Good luck on your book launch. Hopefully a lot of the people who helped with your Kickstarter fund and got free copies will have read it by now and give you a good review. I can’t remember the size of the book, but I think it was over 100k words, so people are certainly getting their moneys worth for just $4.99.

    I liked your little video about the print on demand service. I remember something like this about ten years ago. There was a company that had plans to put up vending machine size print on demand boxes around the country, mostly in malls and such. Their machine had an inventory of dozens of popular books stored on the hard drive and reams of paper stored inside the machine.

    The way it was to work had the prospective customer look thru a video screen on the front that had the titles, covers, and the first few pages of the books it could print. When the customer selected a book, they inserted money or a credit card, and the machine then printed out a copy of the book, hot glued the color cover on the binding, and dropped it in a slot like a coke can. If I recall, it only printed mass market size books and took less than ten minutes from start to finish.

    Since the book pages were black ink on paper and the cover was color on heavy pasteboard, I don’t recall if it printed the covers separately or just had a supply of them preloaded for all the books it could print. One of the features of the machine was that, if a book became popular overnight, the company could download the book’s file to the hard drive almost immediately and the book could be bought the same day it became popular, unlike brick and mortar stores where it might take a week or more to get copies in.

    After the initial press release and public demonstration of the machine in operation, I never heard any more about it. Either the plan fell thru, or it was only deployed in test markets and wasn’t successful.

    The one in your video could easily be reconfigured to fit in a big vending machine in the mall, but it doesn’t appear that’s what they have in mind for it. More a sort of central print on demand publisher that keeps lots of books in print that otherwise wouldn’t be. And since the books are only print on demand, there’s no inventory to keep up with and the books can all be sold at full price since they’re only printed when somebody really wants a physical copy.

    I’ve actually ran across this same principle on Amazon with movies. I’ve bought a few movies that were long out of print, but Amazon has a print on demand for movies too. The movie is bought on Amazon like a regular movie, but instead of being taken from inventory, they just copy the *.iso file to a DVD-R, print up the stock front and back cover, put them in a generic DVD holder, and ship it out to you. The cost of a movie made this way should only be about one or two dollars considering the cost of materials, but they still charge the full $19.99 or more list price. But, if it’s the only way to get a copy, then it’s usually worth it to the buyer.

    • Keri Peardon says:

      Wait, you got a copy of my book. Haven’t you read it yet? 😛

      I first saw the Espresso printing machine in an article on independent bookstores, of all places. Some of them are getting smart and are investing in the machines. Then they can print private books for local people (family genealogies and cookbooks are popular–especially around the holidays), print self-published books by local people (which they will also sell in their store), and print out-of-copyright books for anyone who requests one. They also offer services like editing, formatting (including formatting for e-book) and cover design.

      I wish Amazon would acquire the rights to “The Court Jester” with Danny Kaye. It’s been out of circulation for a long time and VHS tapes of it are sky-high. And if I don’t watch it again, how will I know if the flagon with the dragon is the brew that’s true?

      • Wallace says:

        Yep, I’ve got a copy of your book, but no place to post a review of it. I’m waiting till you put it on Amazon so I can give you a nice glowing five star review.

        The print on demand machine in local bookstores sounds like a great idea. One way they can distinguish themselves from the big corporate chains and the mail order companies. It’d be a lot cheaper to bring one’s novel to them to print off a few dozen copies of one’s Great American Novel than to send the manuscript off to a vanity press to get it printed. I’m not sure what the cost per book would be for a self publishing author, but a print ready Word file and a text only pasteboard binding cover would certainly be less for a few dozen copies than the several thousand dollars vanity presses charge for a single press run.

        I’ve got a copy of the Court Jester on one of my hard drives from where I copied it off TCM one day. If you get basic cable, TCM usually shows the movie once or twice a year. Amazon does have the movie for sale at $9.99, but it’s only on their instant video service for down streaming. And I think you’d probably need wide band internet to get it since it would be in the gigabytes of file size.

      • Keri Peardon says:

        Glad you liked it! Can you mention in the review that you’re a man and liked it despite the fact that protagonist is a teenage girl? Some people think it’s going to be sappy, silly, Twlight-y romance novel, and I don’t want people to get turned off before the guns and murder and torture start happening.

        It doesn’t cost me anything to publish my book through CreateSpace (same for Lulu), but a lot of people can be intimidated by the online process–designing a book cover (even a simple one using one of their pre-made options), formatting the book and converting it to .pdf, etc. So there will be the benefit of going in person to do and having a real person there to help.

        My proof copies from CreateSpace are $5.33. Of course, they’re very high volume, so they no longer have a lot of overhead (meaning their machines are paid for by now). Someone who has just invested in a machine (I heard they were about $125,000) will have to charge more to recoup the cost, but if they turned them out for the cost of a new novel ($10-$15), I think people would still be happy with that.

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