Saturday, March 5, 2011

The $0.99 Book

If you're a new author, should you self-publish? Should you sell your books for $0.99? Give them away? The publishing market is changing so quickly, it's hard to know:
Christopher Smith, who wrote the novel "Fifth Avenue," priced his novel at $2.99 when he launched it last October. He says that with some social media outreach--he did an iPad and a Kindle giveaway for those who tweeted about the book--and little else, the book quickly reached the Amazon Top 100 and peaked at No. 4. After the initial rise, Smith then decided to drop the price of the book to 99 cents to maintain his ranking in the top 100, which is key to generating sales.
As the volume of Kindle, iPad, and other e-readers increase, authors have a powerful way to circumvent traditional publishers to reach their audience. For $0.99, many readers will download a book they'd never consider buying in print for $15 or $25.

My friend Janet Ference is trying the more radical price of $0.00. Free! She's created Blue Fern Press to distribute stories on scribd and one-tweet stories on twitter.

If you have musician friends, you've seen this before. Musicians have found ways to market and distribute online, and earn big bonuses when a studio licenses a song for television or film, or when a publisher sees a musician's success and makes a deal.

In fact, authors can expect a book ecosystem similar to music. The success of Smith's book marketing led to an agent deal:
Thanks to some controversy over gay sex scenes in the book that touched off heated discussions in Amazon's Kindle message boards, Smith says "Fifth Avenue" remained in the Top 100 for three months and also has done well on Amazon's U.K. Kindle Store. His sales, he says, are in the "six figures," and he's now represented by an "A-list" agent, Matt Bialer at Sanford J. Greenburger.
In the online world of book sales, a new combination of e-reader popularity and low prices is changing book distribution in ways that give authors more options to succeed in the market.

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