End of an Era Revisit: Faith in the .99 Cent eBook

April 2013 was a really good month for my blog.  Though I have no idea where any of these old pics have gone to.  Maybe I should read these again.

Vincent Price (This is what turned up when I searched for Price in my media files.)

Vincent Price (This is what turned up when I searched for Price in my media files.)

I’ve pondered my pricing for a long time.  I did research long before I started formatting my novels for Amazon.  One thing kept turning up.  The same phrase again and again from people.  At one point this phrase was even uttered to me:

“A .99 cent eBook means the author has no faith in the book.”

Well . . . that’s an interesting insight into the mind of the aspiring author.  To think that someone brave enough to put his or her heart out into the ether would have no faith in what they’re doing.  Personally, I find the sentiment rather cruel and belligerent to those that are trying to grab their personal brass ring.  You know what?  Screw the brass ring because this ring is pure gold.

So, why did I go the .99 cent route with my first novel?  Simple.  Contrary to my panic attacks, I do have the utmost faith in my writing.  Sure, I write in present tense third person, which is about as popular as appendicitis.  Yet, I still believe that my books are worth reading.  They are entertaining stories with characters that I busted my fingers to bring depth too.  If I choose to put my first book out for .99 cents then you better believe there is something else to it than low self-esteem.  I have faith in my .99 cent eBook.

I don’t have faith in your average reader wanting to take a chance on an unknown author for anything more than a dollar.  Keep in mind that I tried to battle through the rejection letters to no avail.  I went vanity press and got crucified by high prices.  I’ve taken my lumps and have learned that many people will not venture into a new author’s world without a little incentive.  That incentive is the .99 cent price tag.  For a dollar, you can take a chance on my book with less apprehension.  For a dollar, you can find yourself loving a new author at the beginning of his career.  For a dollar, you can be one of the first to enter a new world of magic.  You know all those people who love to say ‘I was listening to that band before they were popular’ or ‘I loved that actress before she became A-list’?  Well, you can take that risk and proudly claim that you read an author’s work before they hit the Times Best-Seller list.

Was I a little over the top?  Definitely, but my point is that you never know what you’re getting with a new author.  People are leery of such things, especially with news of there being more crap than good books.  That .99 cent price tag eases the worry for a lot of people when they approach a new author.  .99 cents doesn’t feel like a real risk.  You can’t even get gum for that these days.  So, do you feel better taking a chance on a new author for less than a pack of gum?  Sounds a little more palpable to me.

This idea that the author doesn’t have faith in the book and priced it less is rather insulting if you think about it.  At least to those of us that are doing this to help develop what we really need at the beginning.  Personally, I’m not in it for the money right now.  The money will come when I get the real power behind an author’s success: Fans.  That has been my goal all along here.  I want to make my book appealing to as many people as I can and gain a sturdy fan following, so I can price future books reasonably higher.  That .99 cent book is an introduction to me, my style, and my world.  It is the gateway into the literary amusement park I’ve constructed for those that wish to enter.  Honestly, it sounds like good business to get people in the door.  Come for the .99 cent introduction to a series and stay for the higher priced sequels.

Now after all that, does anyone really believe I did .99 cents due to a lack of faith in my own book?  I didn’t think so.

About Charles Yallowitz

Charles E. Yallowitz was born, raised, and educated in New York. Then he spent a few years in Florida, realized his fear of alligators, and moved back to the Empire State. When he isn't working hard on his epic fantasy stories, Charles can be found cooking or going on whatever adventure his son has planned for the day. 'Legends of Windemere' is his first series, but it certainly won't be his last.
This entry was posted in Thoughts and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

30 Responses to End of an Era Revisit: Faith in the .99 Cent eBook

  1. Reblogged this on Chris The Story Reading Ape's Blog….. An Author Promotions Enterprise! and commented:
    AUTHORS and READERS let Charles know YOUR opinions 😀

    Like

  2. 1WriteWay says:

    I think you have a great point that if you didn’t have faith in your book, your writing, you wouldn’t be putting it out there. What price you set has more to do with, as you say, urging readers to try a new author. Giving books away does bother me, although I understand some of the promotions you’ve done, like making Beginning of a Hero free when you’re launching another book in the series. That seems to be a standard procedure and it makes sense, as far as it goes. At the same time, some lines should be drawn. I mean, you’re trying to make a living here, and that’s hard to do when readers might expect to get some of your books for free.

    Like

    • A ‘free’ sale feels better to me, but I do understand how some authors go for the perma-free. I wrote this post last year before perma-free was a big thing. It really depends on the target of the author and how quickly they can publish other works. Though I do know of some people that wait for a book to go free because ‘indie authors get desperate easily’. Not sure why people admit that one to me.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Diana Stevan says:

    Charles, I don’t know. As a debut author, having launched my novel on Oct. 15th, I’ve been stubborn, perhaps to a fault. My e-book is still priced at $4.99. I’ve been on KDP, and plan to leave my exclusive contract with them and put it out there on Kobo, Nook, iBooks, etc. mid-January. My sales have been slow, but there’s forward movement. Word about my story has been good so I’m hanging in.

    I have been debating about marking it down within the next few days – Boxing Week stuff, but still thinking. I’ve read all the blogs about getting books out there and as you say, many authors are now giving their books away for free to raise their visibility. I’ve also read that the rules of the game have changed. There is no longer a guarantee that giving freebies brings in more legitimate sales. So, I continue to sit on the sidelines and ponder the whole business side of being an author.

    Anyway, I appreciate your comments and realize we are all in the same boat, wanting our books to reach their intended audience. Wishing you all the best with your writing. Happy New Year.

    Like

    • Freebies are definitely no longer a guarantee for sales and reviews. People seem to just grab them and forget. That’s why I don’t do them very often.

      My experience stems from being a series author, so I went with what worked for me. By the time I published Book 1, I had Books 2-3 written and waiting on cover art. So I felt I had a luxury to go for 99 cents on the first book and it’s kept it going. Like a low risk introduction to a series and people can move on to the $2.99 books later on. I plan on moving to $3.99 when I get more into the series. I’ve heard those are the two prices that work best.

      Congrats on moving forward with $4.99. It’s been a rough year for authors, so great to hear that you’re hanging in there.

      Like

  4. Pingback: End of an Era Revisit: Faith in the .99 Cent eBook | Michaelphelps1's Blog

  5. I don’t think that .99 cents means the author has no faith in the book. I think that it’s a brilliant strategy and the proof is in your consistently awesome rankings. I saw Gone Girl selling at $2.99 the other day, and a lot more bestsellers too lowering their prices. The only one of my novels I’ve ever had a free day for was Shadow People, and I’m not planning on ever doing another free day ever for them. I only use my two short stories for freebies.

    Like

    • I can see why a one book author would go higher. The strategy would be very different than a series author who has the luxury of a pricing tier system. Interesting how the bestsellers are dropping to indie prices. Might explain a few things. I wonder if that’s a permanent change.

      Like

      • You’re right. I absolutely love series and when I see a cheap first book followed by higher prices for the rest of the books I can be pretty sure it’s going to be a good series, because the author is so confident that you’ll like the first one. I reckon readers are slowly finding good indie authors and buying theirs rather than the $10 or more bestsellers these days. Hope so anyway. 😀

        Like

      • I think it also shows a sense of longevity too. Some readers can see a slew of 99 centers as an author trying to get quick money and run. This might stem from a lot of authors going for 99 cent books with no editing and a quick buck. As far as eBooks are going, I don’t think the $10 ones are going to last for long in the indie circuit. Not unless they’re amazing, so you’d better get quality for that price.

        Like

    • Ali Isaac says:

      I totally agree with that Jo! Free days just arent worth it! They only attract those out looking for something for nothing, not genuine potential readers. If people cotton on to the fact that you’re an author wbo regularly gives away freebies, they’ll just wait for the next free day. People who genuinely love reading dont mind paying, and I for one want to be read, not downloaded amongst a slew of other freebies and forgotten about.

      Like

  6. Consider the source. Who are the people saying, “A .99 cent eBook means the author has no faith in the book.” What axes are they grinding? If they come from a traditional-publishing POV, then obviously they would be suspicious and negative toward self-publishing.

    That said, there is a bit of marketing psychology to this question. We’re all aware of price when we buy things, whether books or bananas or boats. For many people there is a price point that’s so low you question the quality of the product. There also can be blowback if authors become more confident and raise prices later. So if the quote above came from people not in an obvious position to be down on self-publishing, there may be that bit of wisdom to gather.

    Like

    • I heard it from all corners back in the day. Readers were considering some of the terrible 99 cent books they bought. Indie authors were swearing they were worth the same, if not more, pricing as a trad publisher. Trad writers thought it was a poor selling point that denoted low quality and unprofessionalism. There were a lot of reasons thrown my way when I started.

      Psychology is a good point. That seemed to differ from person to person. Many changed their tune about me when my 3rd book came out at $2.99. The idea of a cheap introductory to a series made more sense that it being a 99 cent stand-alone. Guess every factor counts.

      Like

  7. Ali Isaac says:

    Good for you! I dont see anything wrong with that strategy. Although I would also say that $2.99, tbe averave Indie price tag, is not much of a risk either. Its certainly an idea I will try out for myself in tbe future… little point now, with only 2 books out, but for you with a whole series out there, I’d say you have far more to gain than lose. Good luck!

    Like

    • $2.99 is definitely not much of a risk, but I think I’m aiming for my personal comfort here too. As a customer, I like have a cheap introductory and that always seems to prompt me to give the later books a try even with a higher price tag. One thing I do have to figure out is if I do this again when I write a new series. Also when in a 15 book series do I pop up from $2.99 to $3.99.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Ali Isaac says:

        I guess its a case of trial and error, till you find the right spot. I think when your plot lines start to get more complex, your stories are longer, and take that much longer to write, that’s when it would be right to hitch up the price. You’ve got good reason then, its not gratuitious, just because you can. And if it works for you, why not repeat your formula for success? On the other hand, if your first series is successful, you probably wont need to reduce the first book.

        Like

      • A lot of pre-publishing research helps too. It may seem awkward, but it helps to simply ask other authors why they picked a certain price. You make a good point about the first series being a success and helping the next series. I should hopefully have some name recognition by that point. It’ll be a deviation too, which will prove to be odd. Vampires in a high fantasy world is not as common as I thought.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Ali Isaac says:

        I shouldnt think it is! Wow… nice to have something new and unique, and vampire stories are still so popular… looks like you could have a winner on your hands with this! Best of luck!

        Like

      • I’m actually writing the book that touches on the vampire culture of Windemere. So I get to see how people take to it before I jump back to show how the Dawn Fangs came about and nearly wiped out their predecessors.

        Like

  8. Unfortunately, many authors who would like to see higher prices all around tend to express their frustration rather persuasively at lower prices. I think a low introductory price suits a series very well. Pretty sure I would price the first of a fantasy series very cheap if I ever wrote one.

    Like

  9. I’m new to this world and have yet to self-publish anything, though I hope to one day (assuming the traditional publishing path doesn’t present itself). But I’m glad this discussion is taking place because I keep seeing the claim over and over in other discussions that “99 cents is a bad sign.” – i.e. it must be bad if the author thinks it is worth less than a buck.

    That seems a big shortsighted, though I suppose the public at large has never been known for open mindedness. Maybe a new author, by pricing at 99 cents, is just trying to gain a following. The economy is bad, times are tough, why as a newbie do I expect you, the reader, to drop a lot of money on my book when you can drop that on a Steven King and know you’re going to get the bang for your buck. At 99 cents, the reader is not losing anything and if you gain a big enough following, then you can look into raising your prices and starting venturing into that crazy territory of actually making a profit.

    But again, this is just the opinion of someone who’s just in the researching self-publishing phase.

    Like

    • Actually, that is exactly what I was thinking leading up to my first time publishing. Complete with King as the example. I’ve come to believe that a new indie author can benefit more from a change in perspective. It isn’t so much how much you think you’re worth, but how much a reader will think you’re worth. The longer you last and the more books you write, the higher your worth. Though that’s a series author mentality at the end.

      Like

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s