One of the most difficult things to figure out in this new self publishing world is what price to give your book. Forums are abuzz with ideas of ways for the author to make the most money at the right price. And the reason why authors are so excited about self publishing is that it has the possibility to make authors money…real money.

I’ve never made it a secret how little most authors make in N.Y. The majority get about 8% of sales. So Wild Desire will be out next week, hooray! It’s priced at about $6.99 and I will make 8% of that 6.99 for each book sold. You don’t need to be a math genius to realize that ain’t much. 8% is typical. Sucky, but typical.

So how is self publishing better? Well, if you price your book at 2.99 or higher, the author makes 70% of that 2.99. Yes. 70% compared to the 8% you get with N.Y.

70% versus 8%… again, you don’t need to be a math genius to see why the idea of self publishing is taking off at a dramatic rate. Because authors get such a great percentage, they can afford to have their books a little lower than N.Y. prices their books.

You may have noticed quite a few self published books priced at 99 cents and you might think that the author is still making a decent price. Think again. If you price your book below 2.99 you only make about 35% of royalties. So those authors who price their books at 99 cents are only making about 35% of that 99 cents. So why would an author price her/his books at 99 cents? I mean, if you think about it, the price is a little ridiculous. About 6 months of work for only 99 cents? But if an author’s book isn’t selling, pricing it at 99 cents can spur sales. If you’re not making much money anyway, then dropping the book to 99 cents (even though you have to take a drastic cut), won’t hurt much.

So just recently I dropped all three of my self published books to 99 cents. The Ghost Hunter has been my best seller, by far. The Mind Readers isn’t selling so well even though it’s gotten amazing reviews. And yes, I know A Night of Secrets hasn’t been out long, but it was barely selling. So I took the plunge, deciding to see how the 99 cents would influence sales.

Results…

Oddly enough The Ghost Hunter isn’t selling as many at 99 cents as it was at 2.99.
The Mind Readers sales have risen slightly.
Sales for A Night Of Secrets have taken off dramatically, selling so much that I can say lowering it’s price to 99 cents has definitely been worth it.

As for The Ghost Hunter… not so much. Sales have either remained relatively the same or tapered off depending on the site. So what to do? Well, even though A Night of Secrets has started selling, its not enough to make up for the lowered price, lowered percentage and fewer sales of The Ghost Hunter. So The Ghost Hunter price is going back up. It’s all a big pricing game and we’re still trying to figure things out.

99 cents and 2.99 have become so familiar with self published books that some are starting to think that those two prices may do harm to sales. Many readers still have problems with self published books and if they see that 99 or 2.99 price perhaps they might avoid the book, knowing it’s not N.Y. published.

Here’s something else odd… when you drop your price to 99 cents you tend to get worse reviews. Why? We’re not sure. Perhaps because you’re getting more sales and so naturally you’ll find more who don’t like your book. Perhaps because when people see 99 cents they have preconceived notions that the book won’t be good and have already made up their minds. Or perhaps because the reader wouldn’t typically read that type of book, but only bought it because it was 99 cents. Who knows.

As more and more N.Y. authors are entering the self publishing world, be prepared to see self published prices on the rise. I’ve been listening to the chatter and many N.Y. authors aren’t willing to price their books much lower than what N.Y. charges.

I sure as heck don’t want to price my books too high, but I want to make money. I know that might sound greedy but my goal in life is to make a living off of writing. I haven’t even come close. Hell, I haven’t even made enough for it to be considered a part time job, even though I write and edit as much as a full time job. So who knows what my prices will end up being. For now I’m just testing the waters to see what works best for all.

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