This was in my email box last night, and it was pretty exciting –
Shipped on Mon, 09 Aug 2010 via Mail
All items in your order have been shipped.
In This Shipment
1 of The Chosen by John G. Hartness (Printed)
This is my proof copy, so hopefully by the weekend I’ll be ready to release it for print and purchase. For a limited time, in a sheer profiteering ploy by yours truly, the book will be $20. After a little while, probably September, the price will drop to $15. These are paperback prices. I’m still waffling on the hardcover price, but most folks don’t buy hardcover anyway, so I’m only moderately concerned.
Here’s the reasoning behind starting off at a higher price – you’re going to pay roughly the same amount out of pocket regardless.
Right now, and through the rest of the summer, Lulu is offering free shipping on any orders over $19.95. So if I price my book at $15, they tack on $4 and change in shipping, and you pay about $20. If I price it at $20, you get free shipping, and you pay about $20. This way you pay the same amount, give or take a buck, and I get the extra cash, which I think we can all agree has no real downside, right?
Now as to the ebook pricing, here’s my reasoning behind the pricing. I want to sell a buttload of books, and I know that isn’t going to happen with hardcopy print-on-demand services. People that don’t know me aren’t going to spend $15-25 on a first novel by someone they’ve never heard of. And there are a lot more people that don’t know me than people that know me. So since a lot more people that don’t know me are buying e-readers nowadays, my best path to reach those people is to market an ebook and price it cheaply.
So why $2.99 and not $1? Because I get more than double the cash at the higher rate. Amazon pays 70% of the purchase price to the author on books over $2.99, while paying only 35% of the purchase price for books under $2.99. I don’t know why, but that math puts me making about $2/book. I’m good with that. I only need to sell 50,000 books at that rate to pay off my mortgage. I don’t really expect to sell 50,000 copies of The Chosen, but what’s the point in making goals if you’re going to make little tiny goals?
So why is it going to be more expensive on iTunes than on Amazon? The path to market is different. To get a book listed in the iTunes store, they recommend using a third-party aggregator; someone that has a contract with Apple to provide them with digital content. Those people provide a service, and they charge accordingly. So to pay the aggregator, and make sure iTunes gets their cut, and still leave me making my $2/book, that adds a buck to the price. But frankly, you can get the Amazon Kindle app for the iPad and buy your book at the cheaper price, and the app is free. So eventually iTunes will wise up, or not, since the same thing applies to albums and they still charge more for albums on iTunes than on Amazon, so more power to them making as much as they can.
So there’s the pricing strategy for The Chosen – if you buy a print copy this summer, you’ll pay a higher cover price but get free shipping. If you buy a print copy this fall, you’ll pay a lower cover price but pay the difference in shipping and I don’t get the money :(. So watch this space for updates, hopefully this weekend we’ll see a launch announcement!