The 99 Cent Lesson


It’s almost a year ago since the last NINC conference, which inspired me to get my books back into print. I’d gotten the rights back, but I’d done nothing with the books, other than to let them sit on the ‘out of print’ shelf. Last November I brought the first out into the digital age. Getting all eight Regency romances into print took longer than I anticipated–I wanted all done by the first of 2011, but it was more like July of 2011 when the last rolled into the digital world. Covers took longer to have done–I paid for professional covers, all of which I love. I also had edits and some revisions to do to update the books. And I move to New Mexico during that time, so that was a distraction.

I also went from just using a clean (very clean) formatted Word document to using MobiCreator to convert a Word document that’s been saved as “Web Filtered” and add my covers and metadata there to produce better formatted ebooks.

And I learned about pricing.

Initially, I priced all my books at 2.99. That seemed reasonable. They’d been priced at 4.95 in print editions, but the electronic copies didn’t have paper, ink, or warehouse costs to defray. Sales were good, but not great, so I started experimenting.

I also noticed my own Kindle-buying habits. With the move and everything, books at .99 on Amazon started catching my eye. They were easy buys–more like the old days when you could pick up a paperback for just a couple of bucks, and so there was no worry about an investment of money (and time). For .99 I could take reading risks. And so I started pricing some of my books at .99.

They sold well. Very well.

A Proper MistressSo I put all of my Regency romances up at .99. And now I have one book (A Proper Mistress) that’s in the Amazon Top 100 (top 50 actually, and #1 Regency). All eight are in the top 50 Regency romance best sellers.

Now, maybe they would have made it to best sellers without the .99 price. On the other hand, I have to figure that in this economy lots of other folks are being careful with money. And why not sell for .99? Publishing houses may have overhead–and maybe they’re worried that if ebooks are so affordable folks will stop buying the print editions, where a publishing house can make a better profit margin. They’re right to worry. Particularly since mid-list authors can now actually make better money with ebooks than with print editions (I haven’t yet out-earned what I made with print editions, but I’m on my way there).

And, finally, the bottom line is that if I’m looking for those .99 bargains, why not participate and offer them up as well. I believe in walking the talk–and the talk is that digital is not just the future, it’s a reasonable one where good books can again find their way into reader’s hands.

I’m going again to the NINC conference this year — what’s not to love about white beaches, blue ocean, other writers, and tons of great ideas.

And NINC has adjusted its membership requirements–if you’re earning money (good money) with a book you’ve brought out online, you can be a NINC member. This not only seems wise to be for the organization, but it’s supportive of authors–it’s about supporting money into the author’s hands so that you can both write and eat (and not have to eat canned soup).

Will book prices ever go up? Maybe. I can see bringing out a new book at 2.99, or 1.99 — or maybe even free. But I love the flexibility–and the ability as the author to have more input into my own books.

It’s funny since I write about the Regency era–an era when authors often participated financially in their own book production costs, an era when an author had a great deal of say about publishing. Technology is taking us back again to those days.

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7 thoughts on “The 99 Cent Lesson

  1. Shannon, I’m one, of probably many on budgets and love to find these bargains! I had started getting your books at the $2.99, and when you went to some as .99, I bought those ALL at .99 that you had up then! Then the ALL rest that came at .99 after! First, I did that because I love your books! I was thrilled to find a fab read at $2.99 and super excited you put them out at .99 cuz I could then read more of yours. I have a huge love for regency romances and so thrilled you and others who had those traditional regencies and historical romances out before are putting them back out. I can’t put into words what a comfort and joy it is reading your books! I’ve seen others who put their re-releases up as $9.99 (yes, many do!) as well as $5.99 and I’m very hesitate at $5.99. I rarely will buy anything over $5. There are some print publishers that put discounts on their ebooks ALL THE TIME and I love that and support them (Sourcebooks for one) and some of the Agency ones that do a special here and there. I’m behind ‘agency’ books that give no discounts to their ebooks at all. For me, I just can’t see paying full price as a print, when they don’t have to be print and so much more that saves cost for them.

    I do look for bargains instead and have been having a joy reading them! Many authors who now in print with the big pubs, I had read them before at the small print in ebook! I can get the beautiful and quality and quantity (word count) of your books than paying $7.99 to $9.99 and more. I rather get a few books than one!

    So thank YOU for thinking of your READERS! I will continue to support you and authors any way I can. I wished I told you that day I got them all and thanked you then. So belatedly, THANK YOU Shannon.

    • You’re very welcome.

      I’m lucky to be in a position to be able to price my books as I like. One of the disadvantages of a New York print house contact is that they set the pricing — authors have practically no say in that.

      Shannon

  2. Hello Shannon,

    I love the article on 99 cents… because it’s so true and relevant…I read one of the “Comporise” series and just because the pricing was so enticing i decided to buy all of the “Compromise” and “Proper” series .

    As someone who is totally in love with any form of literary work, i pay attention to certain details when appreciating literary work such as yours. i admit that i have not seen your work in print and therefore have nothing to compare with, however i wanted to point out certain details in the electronic copies which could have been better presented. It appears that 4 of the 6 books i’ve read so far there could have been more attention paid to the proof reading of these electronic books. so much so that I would like to offer my services ( without a charge, of course). I am currently pursuing a career as a writer and need all the experience i can get. Therefore if you ever need someone to further proof read your books before they go to print, i will be willing to do so.

    • Thanks for the offer — I’ve actually just uploaded fairly new editions to correct some typos in the books (these should update automatically on Kindle). And sometimes the conversion to ebook introduces odd characters — it’s always something.

      Shannon

  3. Well I am excited your books are only 99 cents! I just got my new kindle yesterday and bought 3 of your books. The fact that I was able to find affordable books that interested me was the final selling point in my kindle purchase. I’m sure I will love the ones I bought and will be getting the rest soon. I can’t wait to start reading them this weekend. I have a question though…. What order were the 3 “Proper” books written? If they are a series I like to read them in the correct order.

    • The “Proper” books go in sequence as:

      Proper Conduct
      A Proper Mistress
      Barely Proper

      Also, you’ll find characters from Proper Conduct in “A Much Compromised Lady” — Christo and his sister are in that book.

      Shannon

  4. Thanks for the sequence of the books. Just finished reading A Proper Mistress, very good. Guess I’ll have to back track now to Proper Conduct. I’ve decided to now purchase the Compromised series. Can you tell me what order they are in too?
    Thanks again,
    Janike

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