This post, from bestselling mainstream author J.A. Konrath, originally appeared on his A Newbie’s Guide to Publishing blog on 6/11/09.
So here they are. Thoughts, explanations, and predictions to follow.
AFRAID by Jack Kilborn, a horror novel, was released on the Kindle on April 1. During the first month of its release, it was available for $1.99 on Kindle. During that month, it sold over 10,400 copies.
SERIAL by Jack Kilborn and Blake Crouch was released for free on the Kindle May 20th. It’s a horror novella. As of June 10, it has been downloaded on Kindle more than 34,000 times. SERIAL also appears on www.blakecrouch.com, and has had 12,000 downloads, along with 7000 downloads from the Sony Reader website.
Both AFRAID and SERIAL were released by my publisher, Grand Central. They promoted both titles on Amazon using sidebars on Amazon.com, and on the Amazon Kindle blog.
On April 8th, I began to upload my own books to Kindle. As of today, June 11, at 11:40am, here is how many copies I’ve sold, and how much they’ve earned.
THE LIST, a technothriller/police procedural novel, is my biggest seller to date, with 1612 copies sold. Since April this has earned $1081.75. I originally priced it at $1.49, and then raised it to $1.89 this month to see if the sales would slow down. The sales sped up instead.
ORIGIN, a technothriller/horror occult adventure novel, is in second place, with 1096 copies sold and $690.18. As with The List and my other Kindle novels, I upped the price to $1.89.
SUCKERS is a thriller/comedy/horror novella I wrote with Jeff Strand. It also includes some Konrath and Strand short stories. 449 copies, $306.60.
55 PROOF is a collection of 55 short stories. 217 copies, $138.99.
PLANTER’S PUNCH is a Jack Daniels novella I co-wrote with Tom Schreck. 154 copies, $107.10.
DIRTY JOKES & VULGAR POEMS is a collection of over 1000 of my Twitters, one-liners, and funny poems. 37 copies sold, $18.57.
So far on Kindle I’ve earned $2781.35 in 64 days.
PRICING: I’ve kept my collaborations priced at $1.59, and upped my other books to $1.89. Also, I reduced the price of my poetry collection to 80 cents.
What I’ve learned about pricing: Not much. I went on some Kindle forums and asked what the magic price point is, and got answers ranging between free and five bucks.
I’ve kept my books under two bucks for several reasons. First, because my intent is to use these books to hook readers and get them to buy my other, in-print titles. I give these same books away on my website for free, so charging Kindle users more than a few bucks doesn’t seem fair.
That said, raising the price from $1.59 to $1.89 didn’t cause any drop in sales or Amazon ranking. In fact, my Kindle numbers have been steadily going up.
I don’t know what the perfect combination of price/profit is… yet. Authors make 35% of their suggested retail price (Amazon then discounts this.) So I can raise the price, sell fewer books, but still make a greater profit.
For me, however, this isn’t all about profit. It’s about units sold. Which also gets confusing.