The short answer is, I did it because my book sales have been in a slump for the past few months. I could, of course, speculate on all sorts of arcane market forces, bad breaks, genre popularity slips and pirate conspiracies to account for that, but I’m pretty sure the primary reason is that no one knows about my books, and no one who’s bought my books is telling anyone else about them. That’s a shame, because my original marketing strategy was supposed to take advantage of word-of-mouth to get my books going in the market. Unfortunately, it looks like the initial push I got from word-of-mouth did not generate enough inertia to get them very far, and now the books are stranded in stagnant waters.
That means I must ramp up my marketing efforts to keep the books going. I’m still looking into many other strategies I can apply, but one of the quickest and easiest was to drop my prices; so I decided to do that now, while the other strategies are in-process.
Why 99¢? That was a tough one for me, for two reasons. First, my books were previously on sale for $2.99US. Compared to most of the ebooks out there, at $8 and up, I thought that was a great deal, and I didn’t think my books would need to be priced any lower to make them stand out in the market. The second reason is that there is still a stigma against the 99¢ ebook; it is often perceived that it must be cheap in content because it is cheap in price, and probably not worth buying except as a curiosity, an impulse buy, a throw-away purchase. It’s a tough stigma to break, especially as so many 99¢ ebooks really are garbage…
However, at $2.99 sales of my books were about as dry as our East Coast summer. Also, there is also a lot of evidence that 99¢ ebooks can do well in the market, providing the jump-start for many books and series. And apparently a lot of ebook consumers are committed to the idea that ebooks in general cost far too much—being, like, just electrons and all—and fight against paying more than a few bucks for any but the most best-selling authors. Many ebook consumers base their ebook searches on price, making 99¢ ebooks prominent on their search lists.
The 99¢ ebook hasn’t done magically well for all authors, of course; however, there are enough authors who have reported notable success with the 99¢ ebook, and recommend it to other authors (including me), that I have finally overcome my reluctance and decided to take the plunge.
So, that’s it. Nothing philosophical or personal or Machiavellian about the decision… just a practical marketing ploy by a practical ebook writer. Obviously, I’m not expecting Hocking numbers (if I wanted that, I’d be writing about sparkly vampires), but hopefully sales will get a noticeable bump from the price change, and I might earn enough to take my wife out to dinner. Once.