Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Why $.99 Is Killing Me

The $.99 kindle book is becoming popular among indie authors thanks to the success stories of such writers as John Locke, who sits exclusively on the $.99 mark and has 3-4 titles in the top 10 of Amazon's bestseller list. He is the $.99 kindle champion. Other fast-selling indie authors on kindle such as Joe Konrath and Amanda Hocking have both $.99 and $2.99 titles with their one dollar-novels selling hand over fist. It seemed then that the new sweet spot is $.99. It "magically" catapults titles to top 100 and pulls the other titles in an author's portfolio. Too bad, it's not shooting me to the skies.

The $.99 price is not doing it for me because:

  • I'm new. I'm not even a month old on the kindle store. Right now, I'm selling 1 copy of my book per day. While it's a good start, I take a look at the sales page on Amazon and really want to go watch a movie or play Angry Birds instead of finishing the next book.
  • I have only one book currently on the kindle store priced at $.99 and it's not a loss-leader to anything. 
  • I feel slighted every time I see $.99 next to the book on Amazon. Writing that book was like climbing Everest. Coupled with the fact that I had to monkey around with HTML to do the formatting and labor on Photoshop to make the cover myself, it's depressing to see it go for such low price. The only thing that can make up for that is to have the book selling faster than the iPad.
  • 35% royalty on that price point is relatively terrible. If Amazon wished to discourage the race to the bottom with that percentage, it is not succeeding. How about making it 70% across board, Amazon dear? Or is there another reason for the 35%?
  • I am a writer outside the US. Not only is it darn harder to write for and publish on the kindle store, I have to wait 60 days for a small check to ship. It will take 30 more days before I can drag the check through international financial clearance and have the paltry money in my account. IRS will shave off 30% of my net earnings and international bank transfer fees will take off God-knows-what percentage. The world is supposed to be flat. Well, it's a little bent from where I'm standing.
It's hard being a writer. It's terrible being a new writer with next to no audience. Writing a good book is perhaps only 10% of the work needed for an indie writer. I've got to be very, very lucky and that reminds me that I need to go do my usual morning prayer to the gods of Amazon's Recommendation algorithm.

Well, at least Kindle gives me a shot. Traditional/Legacy publishing? No hope of a snowball or smile in hell!

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