Thursday, May 12, 2011

How to use $0.99 & Amazon Top 100 effectively

I’m going to follow Colbert’s lead here and give a “Tip of the Hat” to StoneGate Ink for how they’ve handled Vincent Zandri’s books. As you know I’m always looking for those indie published people who can compete with the big-boys in the Amazon Top 100 at a price point other than $0.99 or $2.99. StoneGate is, as far as I know, the only indie that has done so at my favorite price point $4.99.

All too often, I see someone crack the Top 100 and fail to leverage this to produce some kick-butt revenue (Yes, I’m speaking to you John Locke). StoneGate took Vincent’s The Innocent to the Top 10 and once it was cemented and started a following – they raised the price. Has the ranking fallen, sure it has but even after quite a few days (I didn’t notice the EXACT day of the price shift – but I’ve been watching it for a while now) it’s still in the top 100 and earning $3.49 for every book sold. I’m not 100% sure what the daily sales are at current top 100 rankings but I would venture that it’s selling about 800 - 1,000 books a day so that $84,876 - $106,096 a month - For ONE BOOK! Here’s some ranking data since I started tracking “The Innocent”.

StoneGate still has Zandri’s God Child at $0.99 and it that’s a great strategy. Having one of his books low priced while the other is “right priced” looks good to me. They’re not making a killing on this but it is giving the bargain shoppers something to latch onto and if they like what they find they’ll shell out a few bucks more for The Innocent.

So the moral of this story…make hay while the sun shines. If you are fortunate enough to get your books into the Top 100 don’t squander this leverage. Use it as a spring board to reap some really good revenue. After all – making a living from writing is what it’s all about and I’m sure that Vincent Zandri is making more money published through StoneGate’s small press then he ever did with the larger press he was with previously. This piggy back’s nicely on my previous post about self-publishing helping everyone. I think StoneGate Ink used the techniques of the self-published and in so doing has made a nice bit of profit for themselves and their author – well done!


Kate said...

Argh. 99 cents is like my cryptonite. I just can't see myself being popular enough yet for word of mouth + price giving me that much of a boost. Maybe if Compis (which has only been out for a week) does well, I will drop it when I release its sequel.
I really don't like the idea of changing my price point until I have more on my "virtual shelf".
I love your blog. It always makes me question what I am doing and whether it is effective.

Robin Sullivan said...

the $0.99 does not work for everyone - a lot has to do with what genre you're in - it NEVER worked well for Michael's writing. But...if you do have success with it - then don't sqander it by keeping it "low forever".

Mike Dennis said...

Robin--If I understand you right, you're suggesting raising the 99¢ price once your sales pick up and your rankings move into, say, the top 100. Vincent Zandri apparently did that, and his sales took off. But I don't see how. Wouldn't that move be akin to getting off the train that got you there?

I think I remember Victorine Lieske blogging once about how her rankings were improving and she raised her price, and the sales dipped accordingly. Then she went back to 99¢ and they shot back up again.

I know you've been very successful, and I'm not trying to create an argument here. It's only that your hypothesis SEEMS to fly in the face of logic.

Donald Wells said...

Thanks for another great post Robin. I always love the way you crunch the data. Pricing seems to be the most enigmatic part of the publishing process when you're an unknown, but I agree with the strategy of elevating your book's price once it gets hot. I hope that someday I'm faced with this very decision.

Vincent Zandri said...

Hey Robin....I posted in response to your awesome post as well...very cool

Great blog:)

Kate said...

Well, I did have a comment about this. :) Of course, it got swallowed by blogger. Ah well.

99 cents is a great price point in certain situations. I will reserve my use of it until I'm a little more well known. My second book has only been out a week, after all. :)

I love the way you chart everything. I wish I could get more writers in the traditional publishing world to look at those numbers. They might think that indies are the way to go, if they want creative power and better royalty outcomes.

Aaron Patterson said...

Thanks for the post. We are so happy to be working with Vin, he is a hard working author. I will let everyone know how it worked with the price changes, we will see. Cheers.

Robin Sullivan said...

Hey Vincent - thanks for stopping by and for your own post - I saw the adjustment to $3.99 the other day as well. Do you know what day it went from $0.99 to $4.99? I'd like to mark it on the charts if I do an update.

Thanks - and glad to see another author earning a living by writing - I love that self-publishers and indie pressess are beating the pants off the big boys like Random House.

wannabuy said...

@Robin: "Thanks - and glad to see another author earning a living by writing"

That is what I *love* about self publishing. Nothing else enables authors to 'feed the machine' that is their fan base.

Speaking of which, I hope Nathan's latest is progressing! (hint, hint)


Rex Jameson said...

I am very impressed with what Vincent and Aaron have done with Innocent and Godchild. I'm sure the success will continue, and wish you both luck.

Robin Sullivan said...

@wannabuy - Nathan's Full Share has been submitted both for ebook and print - now its just a matter of getting them "live". I'm working on "order direct" now.

Jools Sinclair said...

Hi, Robin~
Do you know how often Apple reports sales and/or pays authors if you load your books directly onto their ibook site (instead of Smashwords)? Is it "real-time" numbers like BN and Amazon?

Jools Sinclair


wannabuy said...


What are you doing with Marshal S. Thomas's books? They just crept onto my amazon recommended reading list at the beginning of May.

I'm just curious. Whatever you are doing is working. I had zero clue he was a Ridan Publishing author until I saw another blog post noting that.

I assume it is related to this post (using $0.99). I'll read the book starting tonight!

Oh boy, and Nathan's book is going live! :) :)

Ok, not live now, I'll read Marshall's Soldiers of the Legion tonight. ;)

Good luck!

I finally went to Riden and looked at your sci-fi collection. If you grow much more, you'll have to group them by collection! ;)

TheSFReader said...

Just saw Nathan's Tweet about Full Share ... Congratulations ! and Will buy ASAP !

David A. Todd said...


I loke those stat graphs. Is that something generated by Kindle (in which case where do I find it?) or is that something you self-generate by frequent checking?

wannabuy said...

Searching for Full Share on Amazon...



wannabuy said...


I searched for "Full share" and was pointed to Quarter Share and Half Share.

I clicked on Nathan's Amazon page and *nothing* on Full Share.

Only by going to Nathan's blog and clicking the link was I able to buy Full Share. :)

I don't know if this just takes time, but I would question why the book isn't showing up the ways readers would normally search for an ebook. I mean for this to help (I want Nathan to sell well!)


TheSFReader said...

For others looking for Full Share (and until Amazon's search algorithm catch up), here is a link :

Robin Sullivan said...

@Jools Sinclair - No I don't as I use Smashwords to get onto that platform. But I will probably be going direct in the future and I'll let you know.

Robin Sullivan said...

@wannabuy - Yes Marshall's going like gangbusters - gave him te dash of the Robin Sullivan marketing magic and off he went. He's on track to break 14,000 books in May. And Yes Nathan's 3rd is hittng the ground running - Has been the #1 on Mover's and Shakers throughout the night.

I love seeing authors making decent dough from their writing!

Robin Sullivan said...

@David A. Todd said... - I use Titlez as my main tracking tool - it gives those graphs by plotting one point a day. There are some others - include a few that do it by hour but Titlez is on that I rely on quite a bit.

wannabuy said...

@Robin:"I love seeing authors making decent dough from their writing!"

So do we readers. ;)


Robin Sullivan said...

@wannabuy - so glad to hear you say that!! Writers generally make so very little given the amount of effort it takes to produce a good work. I too believe that fans like to contribute to favorite writers as a way of saying thanks for the hours of enjoyment they receive.

Lindsay said...

If only the 99-cent price tag was enough to get me into the Top 100, laugh. Or Top 1000. ;)

I am trying it right now, since I'm releasing the second book in the series in a couple of weeks. I figured I'd try to hook some more folks. *g*

I was in the 10,000-5,000 sales ranking range at $2.99 and the book is hanging out in 5,000-3,000 now at 99 cents. That's roughly double the sales for those who wonder and it would be much, much less money but thanks to a snafu (Amazon price matching) my book is 99 cents right now and I'm getting the 70% royalty, so it's not so bad. Also, having more people buying this one is translating to more people buying my other novel at $2.99 (it's a stand alone but same genre) and my $0.99 novella (similar genre).

So, my point was...what? ;) Oh, yeah. I think 99 cents mostly makes sense if a) it does increase sales and b) you have other higher-priced books that folks will go onto buy. Or, like you said, if you're able to increase the price later without losing sales.

All the power to those who can start out with Book 1 at $5 and still sell lots. :) I haven't tried. I suppose I should some day, since a lot of the folks who buy my books buy traditionally published ebooks too (if the "customers who bought this also bought this" is anything to go by).

Anyhoo, thanks for the post!

Robin Sullivan said...

@Lindsay - I concur - the $0.99 is not a "cure all" it helps sometimes - others - not so much. You have to try it and see but be ready to make adjustments to capitalize for maximum revenue.

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