Indie Author Pricing: POD Books

The last time I wrote about book pricing, I focused on my ebook strategy. Now I’d like to supplement that with the addition of paperbacks.

A little background for you.

When I first decided to self-publish (Almost) Average Anthology, it was an experiment of sorts. So many people were publishing their own work and it seemed easy. Never having tried it before, I figured I’d give it a shot. I had four novels written but didn’t think I could edit them well enough to release them. However, I did have a nice back catalog of flash fiction stories I felt I could edit myself and release them as a book. I used this opportunity to find out what I could do on my own with little to no cost.

The process went smooth enough. But then days after the release of my ebook, a friend of mine said he’d buy a copy but not an ebook since he doesn’t read books digitally. I’d had previous experience with CreateSpace from a NaNoWriMo “win” where I won up to five free paperback copies that I figured, what the heck, why not. There’s no set-up charge. The only fee is the cost of the book and shipping. I spent an entire Saturday reformatting my ebook for a paperback and by the following Thursday I held the very first proof copy of my book.

I found some errors and fixed them, ordered another proof copy, and then approved my paperback print on demand (or POD) book. I had a physical copy of my book!

File_000Now, there’s nothing greater than seeing your work in a physical form. To hold a book written by yourself with a custom cover is an awesome feeling. It also opened a ton of doors for me.

Because I had an actual book, people wanted to buy it from me so I could sign it. Family and friends showed a ton of support for me. I was also able to go to book signings and events. The first book event I attended was the St. Louis Indie Book Fair and later Con-Tamination, a sci-fi/horror/pop culture convention. I met other authors who’ve been super helpful to me and opened doors allowing me to attend other events with larger audiences.

All because I made a physical copy of my book.

Now to turn back to the pricing aspect of this, let me explain my process and conclusion.

FullSizeRenderBy creating a higher priced POD book, it makes my ebook look much more attractive. Of course I’d love to sell a ton of paperback copies, but realistically, ebooks are by far the best selling versions. When a potential reader sees my book on Amazon, they see a box telling them how much they save by ordering the ebook. I’m good with that. Having a paperback copy allows the reader to feel like they’re saving money, which they are.

I also price my POD books slightly higher online than when I’m at a con or event. The reason is simple. I want potential readers to get a bargain from me in person and I’ll sign it for them. I want to give them some enticement for ordering from me right then and there.

As of this post, the paperback price online for my two collections of short stories are $10 each and my novel is $12. At events, I drop those to $8 and $10 respectively (with the added bonus of a free t-shirt if they buy all three!)

File_000 (1)Compared to similar books, my prices are fair. I’d pay that for something like my books and as I mentioned in my last post, if I’m not willing to pay a certain price for something, I would never expect buyers to pay it. My costs have risen as I’ve added professional editing and custom art for my covers, but I’m already paying that for the ebooks, so why not add the paperback to the mix?

Paperback copies of your books are an excellent add-on to your overall strategy. They give readers buying choices and allows you to attend events, book signings, cons, and other opportunities where you can sell physical copies of your books to the reading public. With CreateSpace, you can also offer readers who buy your physical book online the opportunity to get the matching ebook for free, and who doesn’t like free?

I suggest you price them fairly with the end result of enticing readers to pick up the ebook. Of course, you may not want that in which case, disregard everything I’ve said!

What’s your strategy? Do you even offer POD books?¬†Good luck and let me know your thoughts in the comments below.

 

The Year of Me

2016 was an interesting year. It began with the release of my first collection of dark fiction short stories (Almost) Average Anthology.

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At the Book House in St.Louis – my first book signing!

For those that have actually read my book, its been well received. The positive response has been humbling. I’ve met many new readers/fans and some that I’ve stayed pretty close with. My decision to create a paperback copy of what was at the time just “an experiment” in self-publishing made all the difference (thanks Dan!) I was able to do book signings and attend book fairs and conferences.

My first book signing at The Book House in St. Louis will always stick with me (thanks so much Ken!) Then my first book fair with the St.Louis Indie Book Fair was a great experience. I met the organizer Mark Pannebecker and fellow author John W. Smith. Mark also organized the book fair side to Con-Tamination which I attended and met authors Ray Wenck and Vince Churchill.

Meeting these authors has opened even more doors for me. In April I’ll be at Wizard World in St.Louis because of Ray and in September I’ll be at PennedCon in St.Louis because of John. These authors have been invaluable to me and I look forward to growing as a writer with them.

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Reading my story “Vacation” at the St.Louis Indie Book Fair.

In 2016 I also started the year as a writer for Sum’n Unique Magazine. The founder and head guy in charge F. Kenneth Taylor has a vision for his magazine that I completely understand and support. Through him I was able to have my first book signing, first interviews, and more. From my time with S.U.M. I also met fellow writers Lakesha Mathis and Kevin Daniel. All this amazing talent! I wish I could’ve stayed with them but I needed to focus more on my fiction writing and had to step down about mid-year. If you’ve not heard of S.U.M. or their writers, I encourage you to check them out.

In the Spring of 2016 I was also surprised to have one of my stories from (Almost) Average Anthology published on the No Extra Words Podcast. Hearing my words spoken by someone else was an amazing experience.

Of course every year has it’s downside too. For me it came around June when I thought all was going well. In a sense it was going well (and still is) but I hit a bump in my writing. Everyone has critics. Everyone has more to learn in their craft. I was so caught up in thinking I knew what I was doing that when I encountered my first real criticism, it snuffed out my flame of creativity. The critiques I heard were valid and right. They were meant to help me create true works of fiction. I’ll forever be grateful for the lesson, but at the time it made me rethink a lot of what I was doing. In the end it was by far the best thing that could’ve happened to me.

Then in October I released my second collection of dark fiction short stories Moments of Darkness. This collection can be seen as (Almost) Average Anthology vol. 2. So far it’s not taken off as well as the first one but I’m hopeful it will soon. If not, that’s ok too. As I continue to write and new readers discover my work, they’ll have a back catalogue to peruse.

I started 2016 as an unpublished writer and I leave the year as the author of two collections of short stories. I’ll take that! I took my dream and made it happen. I’ve created¬†new connections over the year that have helped me along the way. Not a bad year if I do say so myself! Thanks for sticking with me through all of this. Here’s to an even greater 2017!

Con-Tamination

Last weekend I had the opportunity to sell my books at Con-Tamination in St. Louis. Con-Tamination is a horror/scifi/pop culture convention that had been on hiatus for a few years and returned in 2016.

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Greeters at Con-Tamination 2016

I’ve never been to this con before and came across it a few months ago and figured my book of short stories fit right in so I signed up to be part of the writers organized by the St. Louis Indie Book Fair.

I enjoyed my time at the con. I got to meet several new readers as they purchased my book. I met some friendly and supportive writers in Vince Churchill, Ray Wenck, Eric Asher, Dane Kroll, and Mark Pannebecker to name a few.

Vince, Ray, Eric and I were on the same row and created a fun rivalry to see who could sell the most books. Dane joined us on the last day and fought hard for the “Golden Screw” which was nothing more than a rusty screw we found on the floor but symbolized the achievement (We can thank Vince for this!)

The con was a mix of writers, artists, vendors, and celebrities. I met an artist named Travis Molitor from the St. Louis area that did some amazing work. The celebrities ranged from former pro-wrestlers such as “Hacksaw” Jim Duggan and Bishop Stevens to Dirk Benedict from “Battlestar Galactica” and “The A-Team” to a former porn star named Seka. There were many other celebrities in attendance as well. It was an eclectic mix for sure.

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My first ever writing panel

I participated in my first panel as Mark Pannebecker and I discussed literary fiction to a crowd of about a dozen people. We answered questions from the attendees and had a great discussion about writing in general.

I didn’t have too many expectations going into this con other than trying to get new readers interested in my work and I succeeded on that part. Speaking with other vendors they felt attendance was a little light but considering there were at least two other cons going on that same weekend I can see why.

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Even Negan likes my book

I felt the con was a success. I didn’t make a ton of money but the connections I made were much more valuable. I plan on attending next year if they host it again. Maybe I’ll get to reclaim the “Golden Screw” from my fellow writers! If you didn’t make it out to Con-Tamination this year, consider attending next year. Should be a lot of fun.