Authors and publishers rely on a number of factors to try to get the attention of readers: pretty covers, enticing back cover descriptions, price points, blog tours, giveaways, Bookstagram, Booktok, the list goes on.
One of the most effective ways is to schedule a sales promotion, with a discount or free book designed to get readers to try a book or a new-to-them author. (Please note: I’m talking ebooks here. Sales on paperbacks is another conversation)
I’ve done sales a number of times, most notably with my book The Breakup Project which I discounted at various times last year, then made free over January. Why? It’s the first in my Original Six series, and I’m working to find readers who like the kinds of books I write, with relatable characters, realistic scenarios, humour, and solid God threads. The thinking is that if readers like the first in the series they’ll want to read on, and buy the next one, and the next one, etc.
This resulted in an awesome amount of people ‘purchasing’ this book, which has since led to daily purchases of the subsequent books in the series. I dropped the price for book 2 (Love on Ice) for a month, then put that back up to its normal price. This past month I dropped the price on book 3 (Checked Impressions is only 99c) and book 4 (Hearts and Goals is $1.99) to celebrate their recent first birthdays.
It’s been wonderful to see readers trying these books – one reader told me she loved Hearts and Goals so much she’s now put the Montreal botanic gardens on her bucket list! (I’m counting that as an author win)
But it’s a delicate balancing act between dropping the price to appeal to a new reader and keeping your books valued so they’re not regarded by other readers as the kind that aren’t worth much (literally). (How many of us have freebie books sitting on our kindle that we haven’t bothered to read?)
Some authors have such large readerships they can charge what they like and people don’t blink an eye. Others have preorder strategies which can range from cheaper before release date to bumping it up afterwards by a dollar or two. I’ve seen other strategies where they’ll LOWER the price after release date. (FYI I don’t do that). We’ve all heard of the permafree book, again designed to get readers hooked into a series. There are all kinds of ideas about how to price a book and when / how /what you should do (for) a sale, and all kinds of other thoughts about how this plays into things like Amazon algorithms and visibility, ‘bestseller lists’ etc etc
Do I think my books are worth way less than a cup of coffee? No, siree. If you knew how much authors sweat and slave (& cry!) over writing their books then you might understand that we don’t love making mere pennies (cents) for a book. (Hello: my time isn’t worth less than $1 an hour) But sometimes if you want readers to try your book then you gotta do what you gotta do, and because so many readers are motivated by price point, then that can be a good way to go.
So let’s chat: how much do you love a sale? Does a sale on an author’s book grab your attention? Does a sale make you buy a book? (If not, why not?) What price do you like to pay (apart from free!) for a book? What do you think is a reasonable price for an ebook? How much do you think an author earns in a year? What kinds of things motivate you to try a new-to-you book or author?