Monday, January 20, 2014

The Promise and Pitfalls of Price-Pulsing--Online Marketing Symposium

I apologize to Tracy Jorgesen for double-posting on the day of her BRoP interview, but I couldn't resist joining the online marketing symposium hosted by Arlee Bird, Yolanda Renee, Jeremy Hawkins, and Alex J. Cavanaugh. Even if you're here for the symposium, please scroll down to Tracy's interview and read that too.

I typically price my work at $0.99 for short stories, $2.99 for novellas, and $4.99 for novels. However, about every three months, I drop the price of my SF novella Lyon's Legacy from $2.99 to $0.99 for a month. This is called price-pulsing, and you can read more about this technique on Lindsay Buroker's blog. By itself, dropping the price isn't enough to generate sales; readers still need to learn about your bargain book. So whenever I drop the price of Lyon's Legacy, I also list it on bargain book sites and take out paid ads in e-mail lists. I currently have Lyon's Legacy on sale this month, and some of the places I'm listed with this month include The Fussy Librarian, Book Gorilla, and Ereader News Today. (Please note some of these sites have requirements, such as a minimum number of good reviews, before they accept your listing.).

So, do price-pulsing and ads work? Well, yes, and no. I do get the vast majority of my sales after lowering the price and advertising. In fact, both Book Gorilla and Ereader News Today have helped me sell enough copies to make the Time Travel bestseller lists on Amazon. Last Friday, Lyon's Legacy peaked at #3 on that list, as you can see in my screenshot. Even though Twinned Universes (the sequel) wasn't on sale, I also sold a couple of copies of it, and it briefly reached #93 on the same list. However, once the ad is over, sales and visibility quickly drop off. Furthermore, despite reaching bestseller status, I haven't sold enough books to cover the costs of the ads. This is the key factor in making me wonder if I should continue price-pulsing and advertising Lyon's Legacy. I have one more ad scheduled to run on BookGorilla by the end of the month, so we'll see how well it works to advertise the book twice in the same month.

The long-term key to marketing, of course, is to get the next book out, and I plan to publish two more novels this year. One will be part of the SF Catalyst Chronicles series (which includes Lyon's Legacy and Twinned Universes), and the other will be the start of a new fantasy series. Hopefully as I continue to put out more books, my readership will increase. Having more books out will also give me more opportunities to play with pricing and maybe even permafree books. (I don't want to put Twinned Universes on sale until I have the next book in that series out.) I may eventually make Lyon's Legacy free once the series is complete, but that won't be for a couple of years. Until then, this month may be the last time I offer it at $0.99 for a while (but I'm not sure yet). Something I may do the next time I price-pulse is reduce the time the book is on sale and try to schedule all the ads for the same day for maximum velocity.

Do you have any questions about price-pulsing? Have you tried it yourself? If so, what did you think? Please share your thoughts in the comments. If you have issues with Google, feel free to e-mail me as well. Also, be sure to check the linkys on the host blogs to find more posts in this symposium!

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