Thursday, February 5, 2015

The Amazon Countdown option - an experiment.

Right, INVICTUS Part 1 is out there, published on Amazon and priced at US$3.99 - ouch Or opportunity?

I've/ We (Judi at Proofread and myself) have approached this from a slightly different angle and it seems to be working. (One caveat here is that I don't write to make money, I write because I love to write - making money would be nice, but it's not an essential.)

At 112 pages long INVICTUS Part 1 - Introducing Richard is a novella, a shortened story that is designed to introduce the concept and some key characters of a series. The other installments will all be novels, not novella's; basically Part 1 could just as easily have been the first 112 pages of an 850 page book - but in my opinion seeing a book of that size will put off a great many readers at first glance. There will always be exceptions, but this was my thought process behind releasing the novella.

Judi suggested that we publish it under the Amazon Countdown facility, my understanding of this is that it runs at the stated price for a minimum of 30 days, then you can run the countdown promo where the price drops to (for example) $0.99 for 24 hours, then $1.99 for 24 hours, then $2.99 for 24 hours, before settling back at the normal RRP.

Initially I was not keen on the $3.99 price tag - it just seems too much for a novella; despite the fact that it is a damn good read, well edited, professional cover, and all the other things that I have had to invest money in to get it to this point. The trouble is the reader isn't really bothered about those things - they expect them but they also expect them at a bargain basement price. SO we decided to use the 30 days to prove to the would be reader that it is actually worth their hard earned dosh. 

I'm utilizing the 30 days to send out Advanced Review Copies, banking on the $3.99 price tag to discourage people from buying a copy - (I know that sounds bizarre but follow me on this). During that thirty days I'm frantically tracking reviews, my target is to get ten reviews up, real and honest reviews, so that when the thirty day's is up people will have confirmation that INVICTUS Part 1 is a book well worth reading. With the best will in the world, I think most books will have a handful of silly spelling mistakes or minor formatting issues at point of first publication, so this period also provides the opportunity for these to be detected and rectified. THEN run the countdown promo - $0.99 for a book, even a novella, with good quality reviews is a bargain, even at $1.99 it is a steal. This type of marketing boosts sales, it creates a call to action, there is little risk to the buyer because the reviews confirm the quality of their purchase before they purchase it. 

There is a fair bit of mistrust of Indie/SP books, and I've read some examples lately that explain why that mistrust exists. IF it is a FREE download then most (not all) are a little more forgiving if it's crap - if it's free it has no value - and generally people accept that if they are given something free of charge they have little reason to believe it will be anything other than crap.

BUT a book that has proven itself to be of a good standard (as borne out by the reviews hopefully), at a discount price - it tickles peoples natural want for a bargain. The knowledge that the price is going up within a fixed period of time provides the impetus, the call to action.

Well that's the thought process behind what we're trying - at the moment it is proving pretty successful in so much as the reviews are coming through, a few spelling/grammar/formatting errors have been identified and rectified, and, even though a few extra copies have been sold, the build up now is for that Countdown to start. I'll let you know how it goes of course.

On a completely side note - I do monitor quite a few websites/blogsites/FaceBook groups as a matter of interest and there definitely seems to be some noticeable changes in the behaviour of the bulk of serious readers, which is very encouraging for Authors. As I said earlier, there is a mistrust of Indie/SP books based on quality, and generally speaking a lot of these Authors/writers/uploaders throw their books away as freebies; peoples kindles are full of these freebies, maxed out with books that will probably never get read. The change in attitude seems to be that 'quality' is starting to appeal and 'readers' are placing a value on their own reading time, and why shouldn't they - reading is a relaxation and 'downtime' in this frantic world we live in is at a premium. I would suggest that people would rather have 20 books of value than 400 stored that were free and therefore quite possibly not of a given standard. (There are always exceptions!). It seems that the belief is that by process of purchasing, actually parting with a little cash, it filters out a lot of the junk, which in turn gives a value to the readers time. The mind works in mysterious ways because it is kind of obvious when you consider it. At the same time the author has an obligation to produce work of an acceptable standard IF they are charging for it.

Oh, by the way, I could well be bringing some very exciting news to the table in a month or two - watch this space!

For any aspiring authors out there, my only advice is to make sure you have a professional proofreader/editor - It can be an unforgiving world! It's not a cost, it is an investment; in your book, in yourself and in your prospective reader base. 

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