This is one of my world-famous emails, originally sent Friday, October 26 2018. You can get on the list here. There’s been a pretty big response on the topic of release strategies, so I’m thinking of following this up with another mail on pricing and margins. In order to preserve the 10% preview rule for Amazon KU, I’ve stripped the excerpt for Chromed: Upgrade from this post.
Telling fairy tales is serious business.
Sometimes y’all like when I pull back the curtain and talk about “writer business stuffs.” I’ll try for a bit of that magic today. On today’s menu:
Another outstanding NZ Police video;
On pricing and the demise of books, and
A download of the first third of my latest release, Chromed: Upgrade, on the house.
Are you ready to rumble?
Want to join the NZ Police?
My little country, New Zealand, has featured in international news after our Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern talked to the United Nations about being both strong and kind. People from other places are often surprised by how relaxed we are, and also how much alcohol we drink.
These two things might be related.
I digress. I sent a Police recruitement video a while back, and the team in blue have done it again with a fantastic take on what they’re really after. It turns out, pretty much everything. Check it out here:
I hope you dig it 😁
The business of books
I hear a lot of FUD on book business stuffs because I hang with writers, who are basically all huge liars. One of the latest is how Amazon hare trying to kill indies, and how the [insert genre] is now dead. Much of this circulates because a writer might toss up a new release, maybe for free or a buck, and wonder why they can’t instantly retire to a private island in the Mediterranean Sea.
I kind of scratch my head about this, because it doesn’t follow the three universal laws:
Follow the money;
Follow the authority; and
If their mother couldn’t change them, neither can you.
Let’s work with the first one as that’s relevant here. Amazon doesn’t want to kill indies because that’s the (relatively) sole source of material for their very successful, very lucrative Kindle Unlimited program. Amazon care about making money.
So, why hasn’t our example writer retired yet?
Mostly, it’s because the old tricks don’t really work anymore. Back in the Day™, books released for 99c or free were a sure-fire way to get eyeballs on your product. The world’s changed; there are so many writers now readers are spoiled for choice. Services like BookBub have made bank on telling readers that free and cheap books are everywhere, and books have very little value. This has lead to two groups of readers: those who buy full-price books, and those who don’t.
If you put your book out free, or 99c, your conversion for the rest of your series goes down because the people ‘buying’ it are not as interested in full-price reads. What I think happens now:
Free books languish in relative obscurity on Kindles the world over. People click on them because they’re free, but they have no value and thus don’t get prioritised for attention.
99c books are no longer seen as appetizing for readers because there are so many. Readers hunger for specials from the authors they love, but because attention is finite, they’re only marginally interested in specials on an unknown author.
That is, our example writer hasn’t retired, because they’re shilling product to an audience that is attention-fatigued and doesn’t want to buy the rest of the series at the cost of a cup of coffee each book.
This is all pretty depressing, but it’s not the end of all things. Kindle Unlimited is the solution for building brand. Amazon (remember, the guys accused of wanting to kill indies) have a system that recommends books to readers. If your book is in Kindle Unlimited, you will gain access to a pool of readers who are happy to discover new writers within the bounds of their monthly KU spend.
Amazon are accused of trying to lower pricing on books. Think about that for a second: Amazon make less money if things are cheaper. What Amazon are doing is trying to pressure suppliers (including writers) into making less margin. This is a long-tail game of theirs, and market pressure from iBooks, Kobo, and B&N are forestalling this (for now). While the KU sun shines, writers really should use it to accelerate their careers. 99c and free aren’t going to lead to mortgage payments in quite the same way.
Chromed: Upgrade Excerpt
My new book, Chromed: Upgrade, comes out early next month. I’m pricing this at 99c for launch week.
Wait, what? “Richard,” I hear you cry, “you just said that’s cray cray.”
It kind of is, but there’s a method to my madness. Chromed: Upgrade is a remaster of an earlier release (Upgrade), and many of my fans already own this. Releasing it at 99c lets those fans get an updated version for very little exposure while also feeling like they’re supporting me in some way.
It’s a risk, sure, because everyone else also gets it for 99c, with the associated penalties noted above, but I’d prefer people who’ve already paid for the book to not feel like they’re ATMs.