Facts and Figures about Pricing

WriterYesterday I wrote a blog post about permafree as a tactic. Permafree has meant that I’ve reached more readers than I otherwise would have. While I knew that in general, compiling the figures from the stats I’ve been keeping brought it home to me. As did my post early this month on professional covers and editing.

They’re both tricky band-aids to pull off. After spending months writing a book, the best thing to do is to invest $1000 in a cover and editing, and then write the next one. Since readers don’t tend to cross into other series, the best way to hook long term readers is to write in a series.

Then, once the series is complete, you need to give the first book in it away completely free. Which seems wrong. To invest $1000 of hard savings in a book and then just give it away. However, long-term that’s seems to be the way to hook readers at the moment.

In compiling the figures on permafree, I realised I’d also unwittingly run an experiment on something else. At different times, the second book in the fantasy series has been 99 cents, 2.99 and 3.99. As I mentioned in yesterday’s post, once someone reads the second book in the series, they tend to go on to the next one (At a rate of more than 50%). So the more people I can get to read the second book, the better.

Pricing for a Second Book

However, with three books in the series at the time, what’s the best price?


In the graph, you can see that the rate of conversion from the free series start to the second book varies quite a bit. I’ve drawn three lines on the graph in grey.

Before the first line in March, the second book was $2.99. As you can see, not very many people moved from the first book to the second. The conversion rate is about 0.5%.

After the first line in March, the second book in the series went to 99 cents. This was in line with the third book in the series launching, so I experimented with 99 cents to see if the overall numbers of readers would be higher. They were. The rate of conversions went up to about 5%.

The second grey line in October is when the first book went paid. While it’s an impressive line for conversions, there were far fewer people buying the first book, as I mentioned in yesterday’s post. It also spiked a lot in November and then evened out after that, so the average rate of conversions was about 13% or so.

After December, the book went up to $3.99 and the rate of conversions dropped to about 0.5%. Essentially they returned to where they’d been a year before.

So, how many readers did that mean?

Numbers of readers

As you can see, the numbers spiked considerably after I went to 99 cents. Then dropped a lot after that. The average per month was about 50 versus 10 for each month where the price was $2.99 or $3.99.

A Little Calculation

So, time for a little maths. Obviously in terms of readers, 99 cents for a second book is better. However, does that lose me a lot of money?

I’m going to cut the number of books in that series off at three, just for this example. There are four so far and will be six, but I want to take an extreme case and see what I get.

Pricing Calculations

Of course, these numbers are very rough, since everything they’re based on happened at different times. However, using them as a rough compass, some interest patterns emerge.

Starting from the bottom, when every book in a series is $3.99, the income is negligible. This is assuming someone with no following is just starting out.

On the third line, 99 cents leading into $3.99 gives a small income per month. Still, at that rate it would take 96 months to recoup the investment in the three books.

On the second line, free into $3.99 actually surprised me. It’s what I’m doing at the moment and it actually earns less than 99 cents into 3.99. That’s surprising to me because I hadn’t run the numbers properly until now.

The first line is our winner. A free series starter into a 99 cent second book leads to the most readers and the highest income. Again, this is surprising to me because it’s not what I’m doing right now.

Summing Up

Of course, there should be every disclaimer in the world on these numbers. They don’t take into account other strategies I’ve tried over the last year. However, with that being said I’m off to change my second book to 99 cents. I want to try that for a few months and see the result.

The only other thing I noticed is that, for me, there seemed to be no difference between $2.99 and $3.99 in terms of sales.


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3 thoughts on “Facts and Figures about Pricing

  1. Pingback: Follow Up On Pricing | Simon Cantan

  2. Great post. I finally have three books in a series (if you count the prequel). I’m gonna give this pricing strategy a try.

    • Excellent. I hope it works for you, Constance. It’s worth experimenting, at least. Recently I’ve noticed price not having as much of an effect as before, but every author and every book seems to work differently, somehow 🙂

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