My big fat ebook pricing experiment

Just a wee update: my month of cut-price ebook selling has been and gone, and I thought I’d share the figures (if you’re new here, I’ve been selling my debut novel online for £1.99 and decided to halve the price to see what would happen).

  • In June, I sold 90 books: 85 in the UK and 5 in the US.
  • In July, I did 76: 61 in the UK and 15 in the US.

Sales hit a brick wall in mid-July, so I halved the price.

  • In August, I sold 115 books: 105 in the UK and 10 in the US.

A couple of conclusions, then: first of all, price doesn’t matter if you don’t have profile. Changing the price has had little or no effect on my US Kindle sales or on my Smashwords sales. I suspect that part of the difference is that Amazon US doesn’t have as many ratings as Amazon UK, because something seems to happen when you reach ten reviews. My UK sales certainly began to climb when that happened.

Secondly, more sales doesn’t necessarily mean more money. At normal prices I get a 70% royalty, but if you go below £1.49 (before VAT – the total’s around £1.71) the royalty rate drops to 30%. At full price I get about £1 per book; at cut price I get 30p. So how do my figures look if I concentrate on cash, not just sales numbers?

  • In June, my 90 book sales brought in around £90.
  • In August, my 115 book sales brought in around £35.

I’ve deliberately skipped July because I sold books at full and half price that month, and sums are hard. Comparing June and August, it’s clear that cutting the price of Coffin Dodgers didn’t massively boost my sales, but it massively cut my income.

I know price isn’t the only factor in selling ebooks, but it’s the only one that’s easy to analyse with a calculator.

Time for a new experiment, I think. I’ve put the price back up (to £1.71, the lowest Amazon will let me charge while earning 70% royalties) to see what happens. What I think will happen is that sales will slide dramatically; what I hope will happen is that they don’t slide so dramatically that I’m getting 70% of sod-all.

I’ll keep you posted.