Author sells 12 times as many books at $0.99

Author sells 12 times as many books at $0.99

D.D. Scott, one of the co-founders of

The Writer’s Guide to E-Publishing

an interesting blog geared more towards authors than readers, recently shared some sales figures to show the impact of changing the price of a book to $0.99.

Authors, let me start out by saying that I don’t recommend you do that.

Hey, it’s not that I’m against it personally.  I always thought it was an interesting suggestion that companies should post everybody’s salary in the lunch room.  Why?  To cut down on discrimination.  If everybody could see that one group got paid less than another group for doing the same thing with the same seniority, that would change in a hurry.

However, you know, people’s self-worth, right to privacy, yadayada.  😉  Actually, I really would be fine with it at work.

No, it’s not that.  It’s…hmm, I’m not saying what it is.  I just recommend you take a look at the publicly available

Kindle Direct Publishing Terms and Conditions

section 7, point 3. 

I’m not telling you what’s there, I’m just pointing out that publicly available information.

It’s a little bit like something I remember a government representative saying in an interview about Area 51.  The representative was asked if a particular person who was watching (and I think taking people to watch) Area 51 was a problem.

This is from memory, but I believe the response was:

“Any activities which may or may not be taking place at a base which may or may not exist can be adjusted for Mr. Campbell’s timetable.”


Anyway,  D.D. Scott gives us some information about

Bootscootin’ Blahniks

the #16,505 paid title in the Kindle store at time of writing.  The comedy romance (the first in a series) is well-reviewed, with seven 5-star reviews and one 4-star review.

I’ll suggest you read the post to get the actual numbers, but I’ll give you the before and after comparison. 

Comparing the month after the price was lowered to ninety-nine cents to the average monthly sales for the previous six months, Scott sold 12.375 times as many books.

Scott doesn’t say what the price was before, but based on some figures in the post I would guess it was $2.99.

A book at $2.99 at a 70% royalty is $2.09.  A ninety-nine cent book at 35% royalty ( you can’t get 70% through the Kindle Direct Publishing unless the price is between $2.99 and $9.99) is about thirty-five cents.

So, you have to sell about six times as many books at $0.99 to make the same amount of royalty…but Scott sold more than twice that, and reports getting more than twice the royalties…makes sense.

So, even in isolation, selling the book at ninety-nine cents is making more sense than selling it at $2.99 would.

However, I mentioned this is the first book in the series…and that’s where a lot of people make a mistake in looking at publishers’ costs and prices.

It’s not about a book in isolation…it’s about all the books you sell (or don’t sell).  When you figure the costs for an e-book (and there are costs…that’s another common misperception), you have to include the costs for books that don’t sell well.  A blockbuster bestseller can make up for a lot of so-so sellers that might be riskier and more prestige titles.  There are even costs for books that never make it to the store as that publisher’s title.  They may have spent a lot of money trying to get a book which goes to some other publisher.

Let me emphasize here that Scott is not losing money by having gone to ninety-nine cents…less per “copy”, but more for the month.

Pretend, though, that D.D. Scott didn’t sell more than six times as many books at ninety-nine cents.  It might still make sense.


Since it could affect the sales of other books that Scott publishes.

The second book in the series sold about four times as many copies (average per month) since the first book went on sale.

That’s with the second book

Stompin’ on Stetson

selling for $2.99.

The sales quadrupled without changing the price.

Traditional publishers (tradpubs) offer the first book in a series free for the sae reason.  Indies (independent publishers) using the KDP aren’t allowed to do that…ninety-nine cents is as low as they can go.

It’s got a perfect five for five-stars rating right now…but how many people bought it because they had read the ninety-nine cent first novel in the series?

That’s one reason that strategy can work.  It’s what Amanda Hocking has done, by the way…ninenty-nine cents for the first book in a series, $2.99 after that.

Do I expect tradpubs to price books for ninety-nine cents?  No, not really…their costs are higher (partially because of those books they develop that don’t succeed) and I have to say that the perceived value for many people for a known author is higher. 

Still, it’s interesting information.  Take a look at the article (and browse around the blog).  There’s another important piece of information in it…about how the increased sales of this book did or didn’t affect a book not in the series.

Indies are part of the future (and the present) of publishing…and I think that market share will increase for at least the next year or so.  Of course, if the Agency Model ends (which it hypothetically could today), that could change that dynamic.

This post by Bufo Calvin originally appeared in the I Love My Kindle blog.


3 Responses to “Author sells 12 times as many books at $0.99”

  1. Snapshot: April 1 2011 « I Love My Kindle Says:

    […] I Love My Kindle Fun and information about the Kindle and the world of e-books « Author sells 12 times as many books at $0.99 […]

  2. D. D. Scott Says:

    Mornin’, Bufo!

    I thought you’d get a kick outta the effect your post had on me…

    So sometimes, being a Kindle Author makes you…faint. And I’m sooo not kidding. Here’s the scoop:

    Thanks for all your fabulous shout-outs! You rock!!!

    • bufocalvin Says:

      Thanks for writing, D.D.!

      Thanks! I’m an educator, so I’ve certainly had people go into a state of inactivity in response to something I’ve done before…does it count as swooning if they snore? 😉

      Seriously, I wrote about it because it was good information. That’s not to minimize any personal value, but to say that it deserved to be reported. WG2E has an interesting and different slant, and I think many of my readers would find it interesting. I’m going to quote your article on my “Thanks for the kind words” page, presuming that’s okay with you.

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