Pricing and Value

As an indie-author, I’m always trying to decide what to charge for my books in different situations. All businesspeople do this. What is the value of the product or service as perceived by the buyer? If we charge too much, not as many people will buy our product or service. If we charge too little, we won’t make as much as we could. It’s also possible that in the buyer’s mind low price equates to low quality. It’s always a balancing act.

I think oftentimes we underprice our goods and services. When we do, we might also be undervaluing our goods and services in the customers’ minds.

I’ll use my books as an example. My paperbacks retail for $14.99. I get about 70% royalty from Amazon, which is about $10.50 when people buy my books directly from Amazon. In the past when I’ve sold my books at book shows, I’ve usually charged $10.00 per book to encourage people to buy. Since I need to pay Amazon about $4.00 per book (including shipping), I would make about $6.00 per book. (Actually, this is inaccurate as it does not include the cost of copyediting, proofing, interior design, cover design, and everything else that goes into publishing a book, never mind the value of my time spent writing. However, it works for this example.)

Last month I did a book show with many other authors in Barnes and Noble in Madison. It is common for bookstores to keep 40% of the book sales to cover their costs of having a bookstore. I wasn’t surprised that B&N wanted 40% of what we sold during the show. I decided that with that in mind, I was going to charge the full retail price of $14.99, which would give about $9.00 per book, minus what I paid Amazon for the books, which would leave me making about $5.00 per book. (Which would be better than $2.00 if I discounted the price like I usually do.)

I sold just as many books at $14.99 as I usually do for $10.00. The higher price did not seem to be an issue. Interesting.

At the Lakefly Writers’ Conference this month, I decide to charge $14.99. Again, it did not seem to affect the number of books I sold. Price didn’t seem to be an issue for those that were interested in my books.

I also tried something else that worked well. I offered all three of my books for $35.00. That increased books sales more than discounting individual books ever had.

If you are in a situation where you think you might be undervaluing your goods and services, evaluate this closer. Charging more might be good.

You Don’t Like It. Are You Sure?

dreamstime_xs_68280848I have never liked sales.  At least that is what I have been telling myself for years.  I like sales in that I like people to buy my books and speaking services.  I do not like trying to make the sale, however.  I don’t like sales and I’m not good at it.  Or so I have told myself repeatedly.  Something happened a while back, though, that has made me question the accuracy of what I have been telling myself my entire career.

I attend many book shows and conferences to sell my books.  Generally, the procedure is that the author is responsible for setting up her table, making the sales, collecting money, and packing up her stuff at the end.  This particular conference had an area set up as a book store with volunteers collecting the money.  All the authors had to do was drop off their books and collect the unsold ones at the end of the event.  The organization sent a check to the author later for the books sold.

At first I thought this was a great idea.  It meant that I could attend conference sessions instead of sitting at my table all day.  It also meant that someone else would be doing what I didn’t like—selling my books.

What I realized at the end, however, was that I missed not selling my books myself.  I missed not talking with the people that came to my table.  I missed not trying to find how my books could help them, or those they knew.  I also discovered that no one at the book store was going to try to sell my books.  They would collect money, but no one was trying to sell any of the books there.

I missed not selling my books.  Did that mean that I actually liked selling?  Did that mean that what I had been telling myself all these years was wrong?  Was it possible that I actually liked sales, but had convinced myself that I didn’t?  Maybe.  I’m still assessing the situation and the ramifications.

I think the most important question is “why?”  If there is something that we do not like, it can be very beneficial to ask ourselves why we don’t.  We may find out that there really isn’t any reason that we don’t like it, we have just convinced ourselves that we don’t.

Also, sometimes we may start out not liking something because it is new to us and so we aren’t that good at it.  It’s important, though, to regularly evaluate if how we feel has changed or if we are telling ourselves the same old story out of habit.

What things do you not like?  Are you sure you don’t like them or have you just convinced yourself that you don’t?