I need to change my strategy. I’ve decided to raise my prices and to stop offering freebies and deep discounts. Let me explain.
I’ve been writing for more than ten years, the last two focused on novels. I’ve quit my job to write full time. I don’t think there’s any doubt that I’m in it for the long haul. I’m fully committed.
As with any job, I work to earn a living, to pay the bills, and hopefully the job is one I enjoy. And I do. I love writing and self-publishing. It’s a lot of work, but every step is exciting and rewarding to me. But in order to exist, I can’t continually give my work away for free, or discounted so much that I can’t earn a living. That strategy might work for some authors with expansive libraries who can afford a loss leader, but not for me at this time. It doesn’t make sense. This doesn’t include previews, which I will continue to do.
I know it’s going to be difficult to commit to this new direction. I know I’m going to doubt my decision. There are huge numbers of books available that are either free or $0.99 across all reading platforms. Many readers have come to expect the low prices. I ran across an author last week who was given a one-star review instead of five stars solely because their book was no longer free. That’s what I’ll be up against and it will be hard to remain steadfast.
It boils down to this: I believe I’ve been trying to attract the wrong kind of reader, one who will only read a book if it’s free or some unsustainable price. This doesn’t include the readers that have joined my reader group based on the book previews I offer. Instead I should be going after the reader who is willing to pay a fair price ($4 – $6 or more) for a good book. I take great care to produce the best book I can. If I can’t earn a sustainable living, I can’t continue to focus on writing. That’s the scenario I’m facing and I need to break free from it.
So, previews, yes, but no more freebies, no more deep discounts. I will be removing my book from the Kindle Unlimited program so I can offer my books through other reading platforms like iBooks and Kobo.
I will also be trying a new launch strategy that aligns more closely with traditionally published books. I’ll release a paperback first and take preorders for the ebook. I will likely offer a small discount on the preorders, but one that will still allow me to earn a sustainable living from it. I will bolster all of this with advertising.
Will I lose readers? Perhaps. But they’d be readers that are looking for something I can’t give them any longer. I’m banking on my books winning my readers over. If things don’t work out, I’ll have to find a paying job. That’s a real possibility, but not the end of the world. I’ll still write. No one can stop me from doing that, but my output will be reduced. I’ll be giving the best 8 hours of my day to something other than writing, but I’ll do what I have to. I value my work and I hope readers see that value as well. Making a living from writing books is damn hard and I am dedicated to busting my butt to produce the best content I can.
[ Update – October 10, 2017 ]
After six months of promotion and a valiant attempt at going wide, I have moved back to Amazon, for a few simple reasons:
- Amazon offers categories I can actually get into. Kobo has hundreds of categories that apparently are only for books published by the Big 5 publishers.
- Both Kobo and iBooks offer little to no promotional tools. With Kobo, it’s an “apply and see if I’m accepted” scenario. iBooks has nothing. Amazon gives authors tools to get their books in front of people who are buying.
- Kobo and iBooks offer virtually no discoverability, which equates to zero sales.
[ Update – July 8, 2018 ]
This is becoming like a yo-yo. I have moved my books out of Kindle Unlimited and am going to give it go for a longer stretch than six months. Why? It comes down to a few things:
- Poor payout. Scammers continue to take most of the Kindle Unlimited pot and Amazon does nothing to enforce it.
- Amazon penalizes and shuts down legitimate authors who have done nothing wrong.
- Amazon rewards the abusers of the system and punishes legitimate authors.
- All my “eggs” are in one basket.
I just can’t support that any longer.