The 99 Cent Craze

Fact: 99 cents is not a lot of money.
Fact: 99 cents cannot buy you a lot of thing
Fact: If you are a book lover, the above statement is false.

Once again, we find ourselves caught in the world of 99 cents sales pitches, and I fear the only thing we can really do is ride out the storm.

I am no better; I have lowered my prices down to this low price. Why? Because it is what has to be done to ensure I still keep sales, and keep my rank. It is about ensuring we do not fade into obscurity.
The problem is not lowering the price, but knowing when the curve is going to move, and ensuring we raise the prices back to a realistic level at the right moment.
The trend will pass, of that we can be sure, and until then we writers will continue to flaunt ourselves; selling our souls for a pittance.

I don’t know of any other artist or company that would purposefully reduce their prices to the point where, calculating in costs of producing the work, editing, cover art, etc., even large sales barely register as a profit.
I mean, at 99cents you get a 30% royalty. That is 33 cents. If you go through a publisher, you are likely to only get between 30% and 50% of that, so you are looking at 15 cents per book sold.

But that is fine, we are writers, we have been conditioned by ourselves and by others to accept that we should offer our work for little, and achieve access through all means other than through financial avenues.
Why do we allow ourselves to have not only our work, but our very being undervalued and abused in such a way? Writer’s either are or they are not. You cannot make yourself a writer, any more than you can stop being one. Is it not time that we realized that these 99 cent runs are damaging us, damaging our brand and ultimately going against us in terms of making out mark.

When you sell a product for such a price that people will not even notice having purchased it, any success you achieve, is for the most part, fake. There are and always will be exceptions, so before people start shouting the story of John Locke and company to me, I know. There always have been and always will be exceptions.
But it is the exception that ultimately proves the rule!
I am not immune, as I mentioned earlier, so let’s take a look at my numbers.
I lowered the price of Diaries of the Damned, my main novel, to 99cents, from it’s regular $2.99 bracket. I have since seen record numbers for sales, and my book is at around the 20k mark in the Amazon ladder, and in the top 5 of the British Horror category. But what does it prove. The comparison of sales vs honest verified purchase reviews is low.


Because people will spend 99cents on something they neither need nor want, simply because it is dangled before them.
Sure, the rankings are nice, the sub rank is nice, maybe you could even reach number 1 in your categories, but at the end of the day, the real question is, how is this furthering my career? How is this making more a more successful writer?
If it was a tactic that truly worked, that was truly beneficial in the world, then the real big timers would be doing it too.


6 thoughts on “The 99 Cent Craze

  1. This is a good muse on the topic, Alex. I just dropped three of my titles to the mythical 99 cent price this morning. My hope? I’m not really sure. I guess to spur sales in conjunction with some mentions of them on blogs and seller sites.

    Until an author reaches their “tipping point” they’re all just in a sand box, building castles and seeing which ones rise to the sky before toppling.

  2. As a reader on a budget, I have bought a few books @ 99 cents – to see if I’ll like the style and content – but mostly I gravitate to the $2.99 mark. I think going for the 99 cent price point is fine for a short time, as part of a promotional campaign, but I really don’t think it’s a great idea to leave it there for long. There /is/ a negative feeling associated with the 99 cent price point too. People still believe you get what you pay for, and I know I’m a bit leery of authors who stick to that price point. It’s almost as if /they/ don’t value their work any higher. Plus, if you see a higher price reduce ‘on sale’ then you feel as if you’re getting a bargain.

    Sadly, as a writer, I have absolutely no idea how to become more visible other than by crossing my fingers and hoping luck will turn my way eventually. 😦

  3. It’s a conundrum alright! I am having the same query at the moment with my Redcliffe novels. My publisher dropped the price at my request for a promotion, but has since suggested that we leave them at that price for now. My sales have jumped a little but haven’t dropped significantly compared to the previous price bracket, so I suppose it will do for a temporary measure…

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