As an author, you have probably heard the phrase: Treat self-publishing like a business.
Instead of just publishing a book and hoping to sell a few copies, you should have a business strategy in place to help you consistently grow your fan base and sell more books.
Currently, I’m well into my second year as a published author, and I’m finding quite a few similarities between self-publishing and running a business, namely, the importance of having a value ladder.
What is a value ladder? As I mentioned in an earlier blog post:
A value ladder is a way to structure your business to appeal to your target audience at different phases of their growth.
It gives you a competitive edge because it ensures you have products or services available to continue to serve your clients as they grow with you. (see the full post here).
Self-publishing is similar to running a business because you have to think of your audience first. Even though you may have spent months, or even years, writing a book, you cannot calculate out an hourly rate and sell your book for thousands of dollars. Fortunately, you can make thousands of dollars from your book, you just need the right strategy and patience.
As with any online business, some people except to throw up a sales page, hit publish, and have move thousands of dollars a month. This is the exception, and if you are one of those people, bravo, for most of us, it will take consistency and patience to work up to making thousands of dollars per month.
Currently, my value ladder allows me to gain about 1,000 subscribers a month and sell roughly 20 books a day. I anticipate the more books I publish, the higher these numbers will go.
The first rung of a value ladder begins with giving away something for free in exchange for an email address.
This is valuable to your subscribers because they don’t know about you or your work yet. Your future readers aren’t sure whether they will enjoy your book enough to become true fans. You can change their mindset by offering something for free.
Many authors offer the first book in their series for free or a short novella which relates to their books. The official self-publishing terminology for this is perma-free.
Personally, while I do offer my books for free from time to time, I am not 100% on board with the perma-free mindset.
Instead of giving away an entire book for free, I offer the first 3-4 chapters. This allows readers to get a taste of my writing and hopefully leaves enough of a cliffhanger for them to purchase the entire book and continue reading.
The Low Price Offering
Once a reader subscribers to your email list, you can tempt them to make a purchase with a low price offer. Send a welcome email to your readers and announce a limited time sale.
Again, opinions differ here. You will have to determine for yourself what the best price point for your book is. Some say to start at $0.99 cents. Research shows the best price point for a self-published ebook is $2.99. However, you can be successful with a lower or higher price.
My second book is available for $0.99 cents during launch month and the month after. After that, I put the price back up at $2.99 except for frequent $0.99 cent sells.
The Normal Price Offering
After you have established yourself as an author and have between 50-100 reviews (with an average of 4 stars), you should start selling your books at a higher price. Since you have a positive reputation online, readers won’t think too hard about throwing down their cash for your book. This is where crowd mentality kicks in.
What should you price your books at? While you may not have much control over the price point of paperbacks, selling your ebooks for a price point between $3.99 – $6.99 is recommended.
My third book is available for pre-order at $2.99, however, after launch week, the price will go up to either $3.99 or $4.99.
Many publishers sell ebooks at a higher price point, some as high at $9.99 which, frankly, I don’t recommend. If someone loves your book enough, they will be more than willing to throw down money for the paperback instead of the ebook.
There you have it. When it comes to establishing value, starting with the freebie and having tiered pricing will not only help you sell more books but also gain true fans.
What does your value ladder as an author look like?