Friday, June 17, 2011

My Decision to Price Hatchet Force at $2.99

When I originally decided to put together and sell an eJournal built around my interest in action-adventure fiction, my gut reaction was to make it as cheap as commercially possible.  You can't sell anything on Amazon cheaper than $0.99, so that was going to be my initial price point.

But in reading a lot about independent e-publishing and pricing, I have seen a number of people making solid arguments against pricing your wares "as low as you can go".  For one, the buyer will look at the price of the product as a reflection of the creator's value of their own work.  You sell something too cheap, the buyer is wondering if there's a reason you feel it is of such little value.  Selling something at $2.99 helps say "I think this is worth more than the absolute lowest price I can charge". 

Another, more personal argument is that giving the product a more respectable price means I am taking the project more seriously.  I've been promoting action-adventure fiction for ten years now, and what first started as simply a preference in reading and a desire to talk to other fans has now become a commercial venture for me.  Giving this product a serious price tag helps solidify in my mind that this is a serious undertaking, and I have been investing a lot of time and effort into learning as much as I can about e-publishing, contacting and communicating with contributors, and promoting the work as best I can. 

Also, I hate to say it, but $2.99 makes this venture much more profitable.  I've seen arguments for the theory that pricing a book at $0.99 means you'll get more sales and make up for the lower profits, but the arguments against this idea look much stronger.  The way Amazon sets the royalties for independent publishing, a product sold at $2.99 gives 70% of the profit to the author, while $0.99 only gives 30%.  This means pricing at the lower value, I'd have to sell more than six times the number of copies at the lower price to make the same royalties as a $2.99 product.  Many authors have actually seen sales figures (not profits, but actual numbers of sales) go up with the higher price; I think that is a solid argument for my first point above; that the higher price gives the buyer more confidence in a better product.

Finally, I don't really think for a niche product like HFJ a price difference between $0.99 and $2.99 is going to sway a purchase one way or another; either you think this is a product worth investing a few bucks to buy, or you're not the sort of person who'd probably read the Journal in the first place.  For those fence-sitters out there who'd actually reconsider - hey, skip the three dollar iced coffee, and invest in some quality reading material instead!

I'm still aiming for a June 20th release date, hoping to put the Journal up on Amazon Sunday night, but it may take 24-48 hours for it to process through and be available for purchase.  As soon as it is available, I'll be sure to let everyone know.

Thank you all again for your support - I literally couldn't do this without you.

11 comments:

English Teacher X said...

i'd say it also depends on how many words that project is going to be. $2.99 for a 50,000 word project is a good deal -- wheras 99 cents seems much more reasonable for something that's only, say, 10,000 words.

Django The Bastard said...

Good luck! Maybe you can do a feature issue on ol' Joseph Rosenberger someday!

Jack Badelaire said...

ETX -

I think it also has to do with what you're publishing. Fiction, I think, has it's own unwritten rules, while periodicals are another kettle of fish. People will buy a copy of Newsweek for four bucks, but the word count of an issue is only going to be a fraction of an eight or nine dollar paperback.

All of this is so new, prices and price points are going to shake out over the next few years. If this price point just don't fly, I can always change the price.

Django -

Nice of you to drop by! Haven't seen you around in ages. You ought to get yourself a blog and crank out some content yourself man. We could probably write an entire doctoral thesis on JR and the Death Merchants.

Who knows, sometime down the line, I might have to have a special "Death Merchant Special" issue of HFJ...

Jack Murphy said...

The only real reason to price at .99 cents is for a very short work or to low-ball the first book/issue in a series to make it more attractive to new readers. I haven't read Hatchet Force yet, but I think the content will justify the 2.99 price point.

Darkwing said...

I agree with Jack Murphy. Once you have several issues out, you can lowball the first issue to get people interested, who then will know what they're getting and won't mind ponying up the 2.99 for subsequent issues.

James Reasoner said...

I don't have a bit of a problem with paying $2.99 for this as soon as it's available.

Tom Johnson said...

I'm with James, $2.99 is a small price to pay for a 1st class magazine.

Anonymous said...

I hope to get one of the first issues too!! Can't wait!!

DaisyDog

Jack Badelaire said...

I've made a small tweak to the Journal tonight - if someone bought it already they aren't getting a lemon, but I've made a slight revision. Amazon is being a bit finicky as to when the book is done being "published" (although it can be bought now, apparently), but until it is processed I can't revise the file.

A bit of a birthing pain, but so it goes...

James Reasoner said...

I know what you mean about Amazon. I bought it last night, read it immediately, loved it, and have a blog post about it scheduled for later today. Great stuff!

Jack Badelaire said...

James - drop me an e-mail before the post goes live, if you wouldn't mind.