I have been discussing my recent survey where I sent out twelve questions to all 10,000 people on my mailing list. At the time of writing, I have 1,650 people answering the questions that I posed, producing a not insubstantial sample from which we can draw some interesting conclusions.
Before I get into the nitty gritty, one of my recent posts on the survey was picked up by the Sell More Books Show. One of the hosts, Jim Kukral, said he would be interested to know how successfully I deploy my mailing list when I have something to sell.
The answer is that is a crucial - THE crucial - part of my business. It's my most valable asset.
Because I am fastidious about making sure that my list contains readers who want to know about my books, I have a high open and click rate, much higher than the industry average. As I have noted in previous posts, I am able to launch books into the top #250 of Amazon without any promotion other than the use of my list. My previous post was about discovery – how do readers find me in the first place? – once they have read my books, enjoyed them and joined my list, they tend to be very loyal. I'm always very grateful for that.
An interesting question for indies is that of pricing. It's a vexing one, and one for which you can get as many answers as you like. Some bemoan that indie publishing has triggered a race to the bottom, with free and 99c deals for full-length novels cheapening literature. Others are more bullish, pricing higher and going into direct competition with Big 5 publishers who still tend to set the prices for their books nearer those for physical editions (and, indeed, the dispute between Hachette and Amazon last year was related to the former's ability to gain a higher royalty at higher prices, and the latter's preference to sell cheaper and make their money through volume).
I have priced my books – when not on promotion – at $2.99, $3.99, $4.99 and $5.99. At the moment, my policy sees the first book in the series – The Cleaner, say – set at $2.99, the lowest price I can choose where I can still get a 70% royalty from Amazon. All other books are at $3.99, with box sets priced to allow a small discount to readers who are prepared to buy more than one book at once.
My survey was interesting. I asked respondents what my books were worth. I didn't ask what they would like to pay, because the inclination to seek the best deal possible would skew results to the lower side of the spectrum. When I analysed the feedback, I discovered that:
2% of readers thought they were worth 99c.
8% of readers thought they were worth $1.99.
16% of readers thought they were worth $2.99.
21% of readers thought they were worth $3.99.
17% of readers thought they were worth $4.99.
15% of readers thought they were worth $5.99.
21% of readers thought they were worth more than $5.99.
In other words, 53% of readers felt that my current price was too low and 26% thought they were too high. The thing I take away from this is that I am probably in the right ballpark, but I shouldn't feel too nervous about pricing at $4.99 and up, especially for newer books.
More good stuff to come: reading platform, subscription services and more.
For now, though, what are your thoughts? What price do you think my books are worth? Do you think professional indies should charge more? Less?
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