Indie publishing: pricing your book

This guest post is by JC Emery, independent author.

Being an independent author is about more than having the freedom to do as you please, though that is a definite draw. After being underwhelmed by the traditional publishing process, I sought out other, scarier avenues. Being rejected by agents and publishers is one thing, but totally failing at not only writing but publishing was a terrifying prospect.

Now that I’ve released my first novel, Marital Bitch, I’m not any more certain of what I’m doing than I was before the book went live. I first set the book at $.99 so that it would be a no-brainer for readers who were considering taking a chance on an unknown author. I figured I could price future books at or above the $2.99 threshold. I intended to make the book free for a promotion just before Valentine’s Day, but quickly found out that it’s not so easy to make a book free on Amazon. In fact, you have to “trick” the system by reporting a lower price to get it to work and even then it can be difficult to get Amazon to re-price the title to charge when your promotion ends. So there I was, having submitted the price adjustment report to Amazon, thinking the sale would never go into effect.

Weeks passed and I totally forgot about it. Three days after the sale went into effect a friend contacted me and asked if I had meant to make it free. Well, I had, but then I also hadn’t. The first thing I did was to check out my sales. I hadn’t been doing too bad charging for the title and I expected some kind of spike since it had been free for a few days.

Sure enough, in the three days the book had been free, over five times the number of books I had sold in nearly a month had been downloaded. Not only that, but the number of reviews (mostly positive) had doubled on Amazon and Goodreads. I was in heaven and I started stalking my sales page like a madwoman. A few days later I had found Marital Bitch on the Top Free 100 list on Amazon, eventually making it to #1 in Women’s Fiction and #2 in Contemporary Fiction.

With over fifty thousand downloads in just two weeks, I feel Marital Bitch is a success. As a new author, my main goal isn’t to make money, it’s to entertain people by providing an enjoyable reading experience. Sure, it’d be great if the book was making money, but right now it’s generating something far more valuable and in higher numbers—readers. I feel that for now it’s the right choice to keep Marital Bitch free and hope that readers remember me and they’ll take a chance paying for my next book.

Not everyone is going to be comfortable offering their book for free—nor should they! Novels take hundreds of hours from start to finish and, like any other craft, the artist has the right to expect some return on their hard work. One day I hope to see some financial return on the investment of my time, but as an unknown author, reviews and happy readers are the best form of currency. I keep reminding myself that my career as an author is just beginning and that this is a marathon, not a sprint. I’m in it for the long haul.

JC writes adult, new adult, and young adult fiction. She dabbles in many different genres including science fiction, horror, chick lit, and murder mysteries; but she is most enthralled by supernatural stories—and everything has at least a splash of romance. You can download “Marital Bitch” for free here.

JC Emery

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