Figuring Out Amazon Sales: Does Free and Sale Pricing Help Sell More Books?

kasiblakeThe debate is heating up over how much ebooks should sell for on Amazon. Whether you think they should all be free, side with those who demand all ebooks be at least 2.99, or are caught somewhere in the middle, this article may help you to better understand what the fuss is about. Since I have 9 books (and counting) at Amazon I was asked by Camille Faye (Spirit Lady) to discuss my experiences with the different price points.

I have seen both sides of publishing. Over a decade ago I had some books published with Harlequin, and now I publish my own. Turning from adult romance to YA Paranormal was a no-brainer for me. I’ve always loved YA, and who doesn’t get excited over monsters, good or evil? Before Twilight hit it big I started to write a vampire book with a twist. Jack misses his old life and longs to be human. When a freak incident takes away his fangs and his immortality, he’s ecstatic. Then he finds out he has to stop the head werewolf from raising an army of hairy beasts or die trying. This book actually had an agent, and she sent it to all the top publishing houses.

Unfortunately, this was a few months before the Twilight movie was to be released, and every editor told us the same thing. If we’d come to them sooner, they would have snapped it up. Bad timing on my part. I could have thrown it in the trash and sent out another manuscript, but I loved the story too much to let it go. So I published it myself, and I’ve been trying to figure out the best price for it ever since. That was in 2011 and the book has been on sale, free, and at the most it was marked at 2.99.

vamp ruleFirst of all, let’s take a quick look at the free books. I researched for weeks before dropping Vampires Rule to the free list. Here are the pros and cons I’ve discovered during the past year that my book (the first in a series) has been getting downloaded for nothing. Pros: There are tons of lists for free ebooks that you can put yours on and get a lot of exposure. Some you have to pay to be on, but most are no cost to the author. Some sites even email lists of free ebooks every day to tens of thousands of voracious readers. In one day Vampires Rule was downloaded 17,000 times after it was included in one of those emails. Sound good, doesn’t it?  Cons: This happened months ago, and I doubt many of these people have even read it. Freebie hunters load their Kindles with every free book they can find. Then they forget them. I’ve heard people argue that if someone pays for a book they are more likely to read it, and I have to agree.

But I also have to admit that having Vampires Rule for free has definitely helped with the sales on the rest of the series. In fact, it remains my top selling series to this day. I may be giving away the first, but readers who fall in love with Jack and Silver can continue on with Werewolves Rule, Shifters Rule, Wizards Rule and eventually, Mortals Rule.

Now let’s talk about the cheap, yet not free books.  For a while the .99 cent ebook was the hot thing, and a multitude of authors dropped their prices to a penny less than a dollar.  But once again you have a book that looks like the author has lost faith in it. When I priced Crushed (my witch-game series book 1) at .99 cents, sales were lackluster at best, so I personally don’t recommend it.

BAITMost of my books are priced at 2.99 and sell fairly well. Until recently this was the IT price, but now Amazon has come up with a new thing. When you upload your book to their site and choose the category that best describes it, a chart for that genre is displayed. The chart has prices listed from zero to about ten dollars, and it shows at which price point those books sell the best. It was interesting for me to see that YA Paranormal and Urban Fantasy books sell best at 3.49, and so that is where my prices are headed after the holiday season is over.

Vampires Rule has 167 reviews at 4.3 stars. If you are interested in giving Vampires Rule a twirl while it’s still free. Here is the link at Amazon:  https://www.amazon.com/dp/B004YZB8XU. It can also be found at B&N, Smashwords, iBooks, Kobo, etc.

Bait has 84 reviews at 4.3 stars (a school for hunters ran by a Van Helsing) is here: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B00CJ182E4

Blog:  http://kasi-kcblake.blogspot.com

Please join Kasi Blake, Camille Faye, and many other authors for the Black Friday/Cyber Monday Book Blast. Party it up with the YA Storytellers for games, prizes, and great deals on books. You “attend” from the comfort of your own home via Facebook, so you can just wear your jammies if you feel like it. Simply click here and hit JOIN on the Facebook event page, then “drop by” anytime from November 28 – December 1 to chat with our authors and enter to win prizes. And please invite anyone else you know who enjoys reading. Christmas is coming! And books make the best presents. :)

2 Comments

  • This was a great post and something I am hearing SO MUCH ABOUT lately. I have heard definitely if you have a series, try to offer the first book for free or 99 cents to catch new readers and hopefully get them to buy your other books. I have also heard on those free days to make sure and advertise it in those newsletters. Book sales are a mystery to me. I think sometimes we have to realize that people really do want to read our books and readers love them, but there is only so much time in the day. I have a ton of books I want to read and are on my Kindle as you said, and I just can’t get to each and every one, AND I make it a point to read every week–well, I read several picture books every day but that’s because I have a 4 year old…(good thing I am also a picture book writer…) I’m off topic, but thanks for this. I am attending the party, so see you then!

  • Not enough hours in the day…that is so true. I have so many TBR and I only get a chance to read right before bedtime. I know there are people out there that can read a book a day which is amazing to me. Good job to those people who can help support our writing!

So, what do you think?