Thoughts From Francesca’s Desk
Can we talk?
There are days I want to plead with first-time authors to please learn as much as they can about successfully launching their book. I always get the call from the excited first-time-author on the other end of the phone that is telling me about how great their book is and how they believe they will sell millions of copies. Usually, because the content is unique and they have a great title. This is awesome! I get excited with them and I want to see them sell a million books. Even though I do not take one penny in royalties nor does the publisher, I still desire for them to have great success. After all, that is what I do, I am an Author Representative, much like a Literary Agent
Then, next, I ask a few questions; Do they have a fan base? How many followers do they have on Social Media? Do they have a marketing plan and a budget to advertise? Have they had the book edited? Have they copyrighted the manuscript? Have they sent the manuscript out for reviews by a professional review company?
The answer I get 9 times out of 10 is, “I don’t do much on social media, I think I have a Facebook account that my kids made for me, but I have a lot of friends and family that are waiting to buy my book though” and then they ask the question, “Won’t my book be on Amazon?” It is almost as if they think that they will automatically sell millions of books simply by having it on Amazon.
I don’t care how great your book is, I don’t care how great your title is, I don’t care how awesome your cover is – IF YOU DO NOT MARKET YOUR BOOK YOU WILL NOT SELL BOOKS. Amazon is not the answer, it is nothing more than an “opportunity” for authors.
This is definitely a sore spot for so many Authors. Marketing is expensive if you go through the big marketing and advertising agencies. The Royalty that an author makes on a book is basically pretty small. (Approximately only 30% or less of the retail price). So if you do the numbers, 100 books sold at the retail price of $11.99 the author makes about $400.00. Any professional marketing plan is going to start around $3000.00, which means that the author’s first 750 books sold are just causing them to break even with the cost of advertising. See the frustration?
Recent studies revealed that most self-published books sell 100 copies or less in their entire lifetime. (Science Fiction and Fantasy tend to sell a few more, the average sale for Science Fiction and Fantasy is about 200 books, for the life of the book). That’s not what we at Empire Publishing, want for you and your book. It is possible to sell a lot more books, That doesn’t mean I think you need to spend months or years planning your book. You just need to get clear on a few key things before you start putting words to paper.
Let’s start with a broad view. Whether your publisher is Penguin, Random House, Empire or yourself, your book will go through the same steps. Here’s a brief overview of those steps:
- Choosing a title
- Designing the cover
- Selecting formats (hardcover, paperback, Kindle, ePub, audio)
- Formatting the book
- Producing the book (in print and/or electronic form)
- Pricing the book
- Releasing the book for sale – Distribution
- Promoting the book
Setting your book up for success—before you write it
Many new authors start to work on a book by sitting down in front of a keyboard to write. Here’s why I don’t recommend that. If you start to write without a game plan, chances are it will take longer, the writing will be more diﬃcult, and the book will be less eﬀective when you release it. Instead, I recommend that you do a little planning. That way: When you go to write the book, you’ll already know what you want to say, so you won’t have to deal with overwhelm or writer’s block, and when you release the book, it will actually sell.
What if you have already written your book and self-published it, sold 35 copies and now are wondering what happened or what went wrong? Well, it is not too late to actually do a redo and start from scratch with your original first book. A simple change like adding a sub-title or updating the cover with an added review to the back cover will qualify as a “Second Edition” and then you can do all the recommended steps and actually launch your book with a bang!
One of the best ways to plan a great book launch is to pre-prepare (my own word), for your launch, long before you even finish writing it. Or at least before you publish it.
The failure of most authors is due to not having a well thought out plan. For an author to generate book sales, a platform must be developed. However, many authors get lost in trying to learn how to do that, or they don’t have the personal time to dedicate to building that platform for marketing or they simply just don’t know where and how to build a solid platform. There is no secret formula or a plan that works for every author. Most occasions it takes extensive research to locate your target market to reach the optimal area of marketing for potential book sales.
If you don’t have time or you don’t know how then that means you either need to take the time and learn how or you must pay someone who already knows how. Well, there is a solution! Pay as you go, only $299.00 down and $200.00 a month for 6 months, and you will have a one on one personal book marketing agent that you can team up with and you will see success and not break the bank! Click here to contact a professional! There is a form you can fill out at the bottom of the page after you click on the link. Book Marketing Assistant
Next, launching your book at the correct price can make a HUGE difference in your overall sales numbers.
More often than not, people make the mistake of pricing their book either too high or too low. It seems that the people who are a bit nervous about if their book is good enough, tend to price their book too cheap. While others, who think they have written the “THE BOOK OF THE CENTURY” tend to price their book too high.
The thought of some people, is “I need to recoup the investment I made in getting this book published” so they think that if they have a higher price then when all their friends and family go to purchase their book they will make a lot more money out of the gate. The problem with that thinking is actually nothing more than ignorance when it comes to selling books. Your 35 friends and family sales are not going to recoup your investment unless you are selling the book for $100.00, and if you did, how many of your friends and family would pay $100.00 for the book? Do you see how the mentality behind pricing the book too high is actually not so great?
It can be easy to assign a peremptory price to your magnum opus, but if you do, you’re setting yourself up for failure. There are actually certain guidelines that should be followed by self-published authors as well as professional publishing houses. I will explain it to you and explain why having the right price point will help you in overall sales ranking down the road, which will result in more revenue in the bookselling venture.
if you price your book too high, you will alienate your audience. You will most definitely miss out on potential sales because you have overpriced your book. If you price your book too low, then you can lose potential sales and also manage to alienate your audience. So much goes into the pricing of your book— from your experience to your subject matter to genre and page count, you have to take into account every element that you’ve invested in your book.
Now, do you and me both a favor for a minute and push your ego aside. Reach down deep for that humility, because in all fairness, you are not yet a master writer, if you were, you would not be reading this post.
Let’s slip into the wonderful mystical world of book pricing. Shall we?
This question is the cause of more anxious (or panicked) messages and phone calls from clients than any other. They see that the publisher has their book at a price they were not expecting, little do they realize the publisher knows more than them about how to price a book. I hate to sound cliche, but book pricing is both an art and a science. Luckily there are ways to help you determine what is best for your book. Albeit, there is no set formula for pricing your book. In the end, it boils down to positioning, but also other contributing factors, that I am getting ready to delve into.
Typically, people have both print and digital books. They will both need to have the correct price in order to achieve better success. I will address the print book pricing first then address the digital pricing issues.
Let’s discuss positioning. If you are scheduled to be on the Oprah show or some other famous talk show, you can sell your book for whatever you want! At least while it is hot. You must have content or a calling card that plays on the emotional side of people to create an emotional purchase of your over-priced book. That is not impossible, however, let’s face it – it is not likely for the average self-published author.
Check out the competition. No matter what the category is or the genre, everything has already been written about, you have competitors vying for the sales from the same audience. Unless, of course, you are writing an autobiography and you are someone people want to know. It’s important that you know what your audience is already paying for similar books. When you know how much readers are willing to pay, you’ll be able to set your own book price at a comparable rate. be careful not to be tempted to undercut your competitors by charging a much lower price for your self-published book, because it has the deleterious effect of making your book look less desirable than the competition. Prospective readers will reason that you’re charging such a low price because your book is actually inferior to your competitors.
How many pages? Is it color or Black and White? This will determine the wholesale cost of your book. The “industry standard” is to take the wholesale number and times it by three and add it up the nearest .99 because ending in 99 is always the best. The second best is ending in .95. Harvard studies have been done to show that people respond to making purchases when the product ends in 99 or 95. So here is an example of how to price your book based on the wholesale price. If the book costs you $3.57 to print that would be your wholesale cost. and if you times $3.57 by 3 you get $10.71, however, you would do better to sell the book at $10.99
Now let’s discuss the eBook (Kindle, Nook, iBooks, etc.) This is something of a paradox in comparison to what I just said in regards to the print book price. I am going to use Amazon Kindle eBook pricing/royalty as my example. If you sell your ebook (Kindle) on Amazon.com, you’ll receive 35% royalty for ebooks priced between 99 cents and $2.98. And for ebooks priced between $2.99 and $9.99, you’ll receive 70%. But, ebooks priced between $10 to $200, Amazon will drop your royalty percentage back down to 35%. Amazon KDP has a USD List Price Requirements for Amazon.com You can click on this link to view: https://kdp.amazon.com/en_US/help/topic/G200634560
I know this is all so confusing to the new first-time author. So let me just cut straight to the chase here. There has been enough research data to confidently say that there is a “sweet spot” in regards to higher sales rankings on Amazon for ebooks. And that is $3.99. An ebook priced at $3.99 will outsell a book in the same category that is selling for $2.99 or for ebooks priced between $4.99 and $9.99. (Stats can be found on this through many sources – here is one to verify that $3.99 is the magic number – especially for new self-published authors. (If you are James Patterson or Anne Rice, then we would not be discussing this now, would we?) Read it and weep…
A $3.99 ebook sold on Amazon will earn you $2.79, but a print book at a brick and mortar bookstore, you’ll get between $1.59 and $2.19, and then you have to subtract the printing costs from that. So there is a better profit margin on ebooks.
I hope this information helps!
If you would like to ask more questions about launching your book please contact us!
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