People talk about pricing for their books as if authors are set and ready with the largest following ever right out of the starting gate.
I cringe when people fling out numbers and data, listening to huge authors blogs and they forget--pricing is a strategy. Take the data and apply what you know. The new free is 99¢ - people don't think about a $2.99 book if they love the author, some readers will never know your books because they won't invest $9.99 in a book. Let's break down pricing in terms of this readers perception so we can go on to strategy. If prices could talk, this is what they would say:
99¢ = I'm a new author (or new to you) and I'd like for you to try my book!
$1.99 = Ignore me, I'm behind the times.
$2.99 = I'm an author you like (or an author everyone in your goodreads group raves about) and you trust me to bring you a good story!
$3.99 = Your a fan and bought the first and second of my series and want more!
$4.99 = Your a HUGE fan and I'm worth it!!
$5.99 = Is this a compilation? Oh wait, no...your my awesomemost favorite author and I just got paid!
$6.99 - $8.99 = The price you wish to pay for any Kim Harrison, Jim Butcher, and Patricia Briggs book.
$9.99 = I am Stephen King.
Yes, I'm exaggerating. It's suppose to be funny. Also, everyone has their own standard of pricing as well. A $2.99 book for some could be the same as the 99¢ "new to me author" price.
However, if prices could talk, it might be obvious which price point to take...the answer is...ALL OF THEM. Have your 99¢ stories to get people to read you, have a $2.99 book to follow that up.
Walk up the price and see how that works for you because you have to know who your audience is. You can also try your new releases at $3.99 or $4.99 if you have a strong following. Make a new release either 99¢ to reward your followers, or maybe gain new ones - or make the new release $4.99 and back it down after a month.
What I would do for a NEW author:
☼ 99¢ two week promotion for true fans/fans who have followed since the first time you blogged about it! Blast that promo!
☼ Raise the price to $2.99 after three weeks because the bitchers will complain about not getting the promo even though you say 2 weeks--so after 3 weeks everybody is happy.
☼ Write another book and churn that puppy out in a month - or as soon as you can.
Here is the thinking behind the madness:
Debut author's really need to gain an audience. They need to collect emails and get those people knowing the authors name. If you're floating on their kindle, they'll probably remember you for 2 - 3 months. Make sure you put out another book in the next month to keep your name in the eyes of kindle holders everywhere. Once you have six books out there you are what I would call an established author.
What I would do for an ESTABLISHED author:
☼ Pre-order special of 99¢ - $2.99 for one week.
☼ Once the book goes live up the price to $3.99 - $4.99
☼ After 1 - 6 months or after another release, lower that price to $2.99
Here is the thinking behind the madness:
Established authors will blog, tweet and send their fans an email telling about the pre-order special, giving them a boost on release day. Also, say in the description of the book this is a low price for fans available for one week! After a week, raise the price for people cruising around the "also bought", top 100 lists and deals to $3.99 or above. After you release your next book, lower the price of this one to $2.99. There is something psychological about the "new thing" being higher priced but after a while you want your back list to be available to readers who never heard of you before. They will see you have a long catalog and that switch of "oh, this authors is prolific--they must be good..." will go off and the $2.99 (or up) price is justified because you've been around. If you've been around, you must know your stuff :)
ACTION ITEM: Review your pricing strategy and act accordingly.
Call it a Marketing Plan and I think of outlining. I hate outlining. I only have fun with titles, bullet points and summaries when I'm planning a book. No, when I see the word Marketing plan I think in the lines of promoting a book. But that's not what a Marketing Plan really is.
I've explained the difference between a Marketing Plan and a Marketing Strategy before and today is a continuation of that.
If I tell myself I have a Marketing Strategy, and a Promotions Plan, then things fall into place for me. Years went by before I realized strategy and plans were not the same. A marketing plan are things you do. A marketing strategy is how you think--your motto or tag line for why you are writing. You need a marketing strategy even more so than a plan because a strategy is the long tail. Plans to promote your books are suppose to change.
But that one goal, one one ring, is your strategy. Strategy is not the means to an end it is your life's work. Or said simply strategy is not HOW you sell books, but WHY. Strategy's are a tag line like:
1. Write. Publish. Repeat.
2. Give readers what they want to read.
3. Every story from the soul.
Without a strategy your promotions turn into hydra--for every promotion you do another two confuse you. Kinna like choosing promotions and changing your price to 99¢ (FOR NO REASON). Bringing the price down is good--WHEN YOU KNOW WHY--and not the "I guess I have to bring down my price for this promotion".
So how do you find your Marketing Strategy? I'm not going to tell anyone how to go about their life and telling you how to find a Marketing Strategy is exactly that. But I can tell you mine and how I got there. See the tag lines above? Mine is #1.
I came to the conclusion that my Marketing Strategy should be Write. Publish. Repeat. after reading everything I could in the 5 years of studying book marketing. My stories were not good enough to publish, back then. I needed to put in my 10,000 hours. After those 10,000 hours I'd have to put in another 10,000 hours TO BE GOOD AT IT. I was not so confident that my first 10,000 would make me "an expert". I believed it would give me a comfortable knowledge of what I needed to study. After my first 10,000 hours I realized--I'll never stop studying. Therefore, write, publish, repeat.
Once I had my Marketing Strategy in place I went for the Promotions Plan. I like short sentences when it come to the promotions plan so mine is simple.
1. Publish book
2. Get reviews for book
3. Find free promotions for exposure to book.
4. Purchase promotions for exposure to book.
That's what I do. This promotions plan gives me the creative license details of what I want to do for my book. From here I could spider out all the things I wanted to do in the way of creative promotions. However, this four step plan helps keep me focused and thorough.
Another key factor is time line and due dates. How long do you want to promote this book before the next one comes out? I could say I could do the same kind of promotion for each book, but I've learned each book has different outcomes. Succes relys on your fans and how well received your book becomes.
For promotions I blog about the ones I've used or found every Tuesday. I call it Tuesday Tools--because promotions are simply tools, not a strategy. There are no wrong stratgies. That is the constant--the thing that should remain consistent. Change your strategy and you start from scratch. Which could be a reason why sales are down if you heavily promote. Find your strategy, find your reason for writing, and you gain your promotions plan.
ACTION ITEM: Find your strategy. Find your promotions plan.
I've been attending The traffic Superhero webinars hosted by Marisa and Murray and I've listened to Jo Barnes, Adam Urbanski, Don Crowther and Alicia Lyttle.
For 2 weeks the Traffic Superhero conference brought in high-powered, impressive entrepreneurs to a free forum in which they can give you some tips and hock their wares. The only one I felt intriqued by was Alicia Lyttle's Daily Deal site 'Traffic Siphon Secrets' where...you can probably guess...we use daily deal sites to gain interest in your product.
My first question was, "Do you work with ebooks and digital products?"
Yes, Alicia Lyttle has.
However, I'm going to spare you the 2 hour presentation (for each webinar and presenter) and give you the main focus on what each stressed as the most important thing about marketing. After 8 hours of taking notes and being pitched $197 deals, the results are in!
The most important thing to connect with your customer/reader is to:
1. Get their email.
2. Get their email.
3. Get their email.
Yep. Every presenter funneled everything into a "get their email" strategy and, they themselves, had a way of getting everyone's email in exchange for a prize or offer.
The one thing that I realized is that it's time to stop learning about marketing and set in to find my way of what works for me. I do have ways to funnel people into a list. I believe I can work on directing people to it now.
The traffic superhero summit also helped me find a new promotional idea to try. Which is--Alicia Lyttle's 'Daily Deal Sites'.
ACTION ITEM: If you don't have a way to get emails, like a link inside your book to something like MailChimp, Aweber or other...plan to set one up and make scheduled emails to your readers.
Week 3 of our 6 Simple Facebook Contests you can set up in 5 minutes and it time for Solve to Win!
This was the photo and the question was--"How many wolves are in the picture?"
The answer: 3
By now my author has determined that the effort is not worth the yields and wants to direct her efforts in a different direction. But I love the idea of Facebook engagement. Sometimes, though, your fans just want you--and that's okay.
Will I stop using Facebook as a platform? No. I don't subscribe to the method that authors need to be in all places at once. I believe they need to concentrate on the platform, or platforms, that they feel most comfortable in and work it! My favorite is twitter but I also love Facebook. I don't cross promote on the platforms very much so it keeps both places fresh and different, but sometimes cross promoting is best for you. I don't know--it's only a suggestion.
But the important thing to remember is, know what you want to do on your platforms. Do you want interaction or promotion? Either one takes a unique approach on any platform. This experiment we did was under the promotion category and we found out our fans want interaction as their engagement. So fans get what fans want!
ACTION ITEM: Take from this what type of interaction your fans want from you on each platform.
Two weeks ago we started our 6 Simple Facebook Contests you can set up in 5 minutes. This past week we tried Simple Facebook Contest #2 - Comment to Win.
For us, this wasn't as popular as the Like to Win Contest. Which means the question was too difficult or the prize wasn't appealing.
I believe it has to do with the question. It probably wasn't something that many people could think of from the top of their heads and had to go looking for the answer. Now that I think of it, I wasn't sure how to answer and I'm a huge Snow Blood fan! Hence, I'm thinking we made the question too difficult for our fans.
Lived and learned! Continuing forth with Contest #3 for Snow Blood: Episode 4!!
ACTION ITEM: Try the Contest -- Comment to Win -- just give a very obvious question that anyone can answer. Something like what color is blue? The point is engagement, not necessarily sales. These are your fans who, have probably already bought your book (maybe, maybe not) but the goal is for them NOT to forget you. These are your peeps. Treat them well and they become your advocates. Advocates talk you up to others, share your content and pay attention to what you're saying because your entertaining, give them a thing of value and inspire them to DO (something).
Last week we started implementing Digital Marketers 6 Simple Facebook Contests. We started with "Like to Win".
It went for a few days, with a $5 boost and we got about 20 likes.
One of the things that I don't like is that you can't tag people to let them know they won. So while we offered 5 prizes, only 1 person responded and got their prize.
Now, I could do this through Woobox, and that might be the better way to conduct these, but I won't be able to tell you about it until I do.
For the first contest, I consider it a 40¢ per like cost. However, the goal is engagement--not likes. I can see doing these contests once a week will get people coming to your page out of habit.
The cool thing is, you can do these contests on any platform. Twitter, Facebook, Google+ it doesn't matter, you can still adapt it to either. Maybe you'll get better performance than my author, maybe less, but the fact is you'll be doing something. Try it for 3 months and if it's more work than the yield, you'll know it's not something for you. Better knowing than guessing.
ACTION ITEM: Try you hand at Like to Win! Reference this POST for how it works.
This Marketing Monday tip is completely, utterly stolen from DigitalMarketer because Ryan Deiss is a genius and his ideas were meant to be run away with...and I'm ever to eager to listen and apply!
So, when he shared 6 Simple Facebook Contests You Can Set Up in 5 Minutes we jumped on board and adapted them for the release of Snow Blood.
We started with #1 - Like to Win.
Post to Facebook for new page likes and pick the winners! Ours got a full copy of Season 1 of Snow Blood.
Continuing on each week for each Episode of Snow Blood we'll be going to the next contest. Here's the plan:
#2 Comment to win.
Post to Facebook. Comments get entered. Pick winners.
We thought of asking people to answer, "Name Brogio's love of his life." Or "What breed of dog is Snow Blood?"
Correct answers get an Amazon card.
#3 Solve to win.
Post a puzzle, comments get entered. Pick winners!
This one we may or may not do. I'd thought of posting a picture of those "How many animals in the picture" type thing like Where's Waldo and have people guess the number of wolves in the picture. Correct answers win!
#4 Upload pictures to win.
Have fans post pictures. Pick winners!
For this, I'd have people post pictures of their dogs. Right up on the author page. Winner receives an Amazon card.
#5 Caption to win.
Post a picture. Have fans comment a caption for posted picture. Pick winners!
This we decided not to do. We don't have anything really, except this:
Anyway...I might try it another author's site, but I've got pictures like these that deserve captions. You might want to have your fans comment their captions. Do a mem to let everyone know who won and give a prize.
#6 Join the email list to win.
Post a status giving people an easy way to join the email list and offer a digital copy of Snow Blood.
ACTION ITEM: Go to 6 Simple Facebook Contests You Can Set Up in 5 Minutes and see the examples they did and the full article for yourself!!
After reading about Smashword's Preorder option, and attempting the strategy, I've contemplated that authors with a strong following would benefit greatly!
Here are a list of the benefits (and my commentary):
1. Preorders credit on day one of the release, the onsale date, which can spike the book on the charts. In turn that can potentially increase an author's odds of hitting one or more of the major bestseller lists. (Amazon doesn't play by that rule anymore...however Barnes & Nobel I believe still does.)
2. Your book is available on sale at these major retailers on the same day. (Only if you go through Smashwords. If you prefer to have more control over you descriptions or pricing in different platforms...well, then not so much because you have to upload them separately. Call me a control freak, but I like my changes to happen ASAP and not Smashwords two weeks later when they can get to it.)
3. Authors can execute more strategic advance marketing campaigns to build buzz and accumulate orders leading up to their official release date. (With the exception of social media, I couldn't find a place to exercise this type of marketing. Book tours require a link to your book, and they want it in advance. Putting an ad out there where do you send people exactly? Smashwords doesn't actually allow for preorders. How do I find the preorder page on B&N and Apple?)
4. The retailer will display your preorder title alongside your other books in their store. Which will enable you to capture the reader's order at that moment they're buying all your books. (Assuming you have other books...this might not be good for first time authors?)
5. Your advance preorder makes it easier for retailers to slot your book into special preorder promotions. (Ummm...don't they have big names before yours? How many pages do people have to shift through to get to it?)
I believe if you've got a strong following you could do it. The reason why I did the preorder was to hopefully get the book out on B&N and Apple at the same time as Amazon and Kobo. That's what the preorder feature is really all about for me.
ACTION ITEM: If you've got a strong following--this is a great feature! If you don't, it's a fantastic way to get your book on all platforms at the same time! I'm going to employ this for all my authors whether we get the spike of preorders or not.
We've been friends now for some time. I'm so glad we're friends!! But I need help and therefore I asked...for a VA.
The experience has been very positive. My new VA/project manager gets it done! He makes me look good! Like, I actually have my act together.
Really, it's a race against my Ultrachron timer going down the to-do-list to get everything done in a day. The VA is taking quiet the load off my plate so I'm able to do more and blog again!
Marketing is a constant, you can't stop. It reminds me of writing. But there are questions I've found helpful in my search of finding help. If you get the chance to hire a VA...here are some questions you might want to ask them and yourself:
1. Do they have experience in writing?
This actually is a big one. You have to like their work. They just might help you with your blogs.
2. Do they know how to market books?
Not necessarily a bad thing if they have a background in marketing, but haven't learned how to market a book. Be prepared to teach or send them on learning expeditons, even if they do know what they're doing. Learning is vital in marketing and writing!
3. What is their idea of communication?
Once a week is great for the proactive VA. Sometimes an email daily report is better. Depends on your micro-management issues.
4. Are you ready to let go?
You want help, but can't see anyone doing it as good as you. This is a tuffy. Actually giving the torch to someone else is like losing a huge chunk of time and effort, and if they fail? You'll blame yourself.
Marketing is hard stuff. Sometimes you need help -- as indie authors you're use to doing it yourself. There are somethings you should do yourself. It's up to you on what to give and when to know what to let go of.
ACTION ITEM: Find yourself overwhelmed? Maybe a VA to help you for a few hours every week might give you that time to write.
See what I've done? I'm promoting my author and giving you an example of the Pay-with-a-Tweet promotion! Yeah, I think I'm slick :)
If you'd like a free ebook download...click the pay with a tweet button at the top of this post and see the receiving end of Pay-with-a-Tweet promotion. Or just click the picture and it'll take you there too.
When you make your own pay-with-a-tweet, they give you a URL as well as html codes so you choose the best button/method of driving traffic to your promotion. The URL you can slap on the back of your book and it's a fantastic way to get the word out!!
Imagine after one of your readers finished your book and there's a little URL with a message saying... receive my novella just by pay-with-a-tweet and receive "book name here" !!
And then they tweet a message you pre-made to go out with a hashtag and a message and a link that promotes your paid book and viola free press!
Am I making sense?
ACTION ITEM: Click the "Pay with a Tweet or Facebook" button and go through the process of the system. Then go to http://www.paywithatweet.com/ and do your own!
My efforts are to make this a learning blog where writers can see the flip side of publishing. If you have comments that will improve your experience or have a certain topic you'd like discussed, please contact me through email - HERE.
~ Sincerley, Your Editor
Troll River Publications
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