Saying No to Ninety-Nine
I’m getting Slices ready to put up on the Kindle store — fixing the typos I’d missed, re-writing the introduction, putting together a new cover because I’m not happy enough with the old one — and something I’ve been thinking about while I’ve been doing this is, how much will I want to charge for it?
A huge number of indie writers have been pricing their Kindle books at 99 cents. That seems — well, kind of ridiculously low to me, and to a lot of other people. But I’ve heard some good arguments for it, and I’d been seriously considering it, especially after reading J.A. Konrath’s interview with John Locke, who set out to “become the world’s greatest 99-cent author,” and recently ended up at the top of Amazon’s Top 100 — the first indie writer to do so.
But on the other hand, here’s the perspective of Zoe Winters, an indie who started out at the 99-cent price point but soon abandoned it:
“I noticed that 99 cents drew some unappealing customers [….] A strange but true rule of business is that the customers paying the least amount for a product or service always complain the most and try to squeeze more out of you. I really don’t want to participate in the Walmartizing of literature or cater to that audience.
“Then there was the fact that I wanted to cultivate a loyal following and most people who expect ebooks to be 99 cents aren’t that loyal. They’re shopping by price as their main deciding factor. I just don’t want those readers [….] I think the readers I attract now are truly interested in MY work, and not just a bargain. I feel like the readers I’m attracting are the types of readers who are going to be passionate about the work and tell other people. I also think that people don’t expect it to ‘probably suck anyway’ if it’s $4.95. That negative assumption with 99 cents devalues the work because human beings are psychologically wired to get the experience they expect with many things. Fiction is one of those things [….] At the higher price point, people just expect it to be good. And I work hard to deliver on that expectation.”
She definitely has a point. I guess I just kind of inherently think my book is, well, worth more than a dollar. I suppose I’d like my readers to think so, too.