Bookbub, price matching and sometimes you´re in for a surprise

For a few years now I´ve been lucky enough to get fairly regular features by Bookbub, which is a book recommendation service that currently reaches almost 2 million science fiction readers. That´s right, two million people have opted in to receive daily book recommendations from their curated selection! I´m one of these readers, and every day I check out what they have selected in my chosen genres. As an author, I know these features are not easy to get, as they are extremely picky, but for some reason they have featured Exodus several times, and in August they picked Rift, which resulted in it being downloaded more than 70.000 times on Amazon alone!

So I was pretty happy when they chose to feature the Complete Exodus Trilogy, this time as a $0.99 feature, which was supposed to last for a few days. Now, this is a book that normally sells for $6.99, so it´s a pretty good deal for a reader, and not surprisingly it did really well, becoming Amazon´s number 4 bestselling book in scifi and number 20 something overall (the reason I use Amazon rankings is that these are easy to follow, and the ones most clearly following actual sales, which isn´t true for so many well known “bestseller” lists).

Having run the sale, and being very satisfied with the results, I decided to change the price back to normal again. That´s when I discovered that ebook prices can take on a life of their own. I noticed that some of the retailers wouldn´t change the price, and (a bit annoyed, I have to admit, as I like to be in control of these things) I looked into it a bit closer. It seemed Barnes&Noble hadn´t changed the price when I asked them to (some kind of delay, apparently), so Amazon was price matching them. I´ve used their price matching policy to my benefit before, in order to make books free, for marketing purposes, and now it had backfired. And so I sat there, earning $0.35 on a three book series whenever it sold a copy. That´s not much!

But here´s the thing, it sold. A lot. And it continues to sell. A lot. Of course, it doesn´t sell as much as it did when Bookbub featured it, but it´s selling as much as the series did before, and besides, sales of my Rift Saga has picked up as well, since many of those who finish the Exodus Trilogy jump right into the next series. So now I have changed the price on back to $0.99 on those retailers that did revert to $6.99, such as Apple and Kobo, so that any reader, regardless of where they choose to buy their books, can get it for the best price. I have figured out how to regain control of the price, but I´m holding off for now.

The Complete Exodus Trilogy will not be selling at less than a dollar forever. It´s worth a lot more. But right now it´s a win-win situation for both author and reader. I cannot say when the price will revert to normal again, but I guess it´ll be when the effects of the Bookbub feature and the following boost in rank tapers off. And it will. But for right now, as strange as it sounds, practically giving away this three-book series, and making just $0.35 per sale, makes prefect sense.

One more thing. This is why being an indie author is so great. I´ve heard authors who have been in similar situations bemoaning the lost income because of the retailers´ price matching policy. I see it differently. These are good sales, new readers, and an opportunity for more people to discover my books. Because I´m indie, I can turn around quickly and take advantage of the situation. Yes, I would have made more per book if Amazon hadn´t matched Barnes&Noble´s price, but how many books would I have sold at $6.99 compared to $0.99? How many new readers would that have meant for my next series? I didn´t see the opportunity, and without the Bookbub feature I wouldn´t have had the momentum that made this a win-win for all. Now I do, and I adapt. When sales taper off I adapt again, since without the big sales numbers, making $0.35 per book (actually, three books!) is ridiculous. But this is what being indie is about: taking control of your career and your work.

Have I told you lately how much I love this job? 🙂

P.S. That´s right, I didn´t mention my upcoming book in this post. Not even once. I´ll write a full post on it soon, but I´m planning for a Christmas release, so things are moving quickly. It´ll be a Rift Saga companion novella, featuring a minor character from the Saga, Tacticus Laurie White. More later!

4 thoughts on “Bookbub, price matching and sometimes you´re in for a surprise

  1. David VanDyke

    I did something similar, putting out a trilogy of the first three books in my 17-book series (one was already permafree) at 99c kicking off with a BookBub, and I left it there for about 9 months. It fueled above-average sales for that long.

  2. Andreas Post author

    That´s very cool David! 9 months is a long time, and I can only hope… It seems to have found a sweet spot for now at between #800-#1200 overall in the Amazon US store, which is pretty decent I guess. 🙂

  3. Ray Van Ostran

    I have read the first book of the Exodus trilogy and liked it enough to buy the rest of the books. Thanks for writing it.


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