Monday, April 7, 2014

The business of writing

Writing books results in a few big winners but many more losers – especially with about 30,000 books self-published every month.

It is also a lesson in the Law of Supply and Demand.  I have priced my book Lucky and Good ( the ebook version) as high as $11.99 each and as low as $.99.  That is not quite right.  For five days every 90 days I have a chance to give my book away FREE.  (I make it up in volume.) 

This is an interesting experiment in pricing and more importantly the Law of Supply and Demand. I raised the price of my book recently from $9.99 to $11.99 to see how it might impact sales.  It worked – nobody bought it at the higher price. And then this last weekend, I used two out of my five free days via Amazon to give the darn thing away - 1,469 customers downloaded it.  Hooah!

Now if I could only sell 1,469 ebooks every two days at a price of $9.99 each, I would be sitting fat and happy (actually I already qualify for both).  But clearly I would be richer because my annual income would be: 1469 copies (per two days)/ two days * 365 days per year * $9.99 (retail price) * 35% (the author’s royalty on Amazon = $937,385 per year.  You gotta love it unless you live in California or New York City.

The problem is that I can’t sell as many at $9.99 as I can give away for free.

I never wrote this darn thing to make a living.  I wrote it because I had a few things to say and I ended up enjoying the process of creating it.  But the experience is  a reminder of the 13th/14th-century Mamluk scholar, Ibn Taymiyyah who first described  the Law of Supply and Demand (without using that label):  “If desire for goods increases while its availability decreases, its price rises. On the other hand, if availability of the good increases and the desire for it decreases, the price comes down."

If you have an idea or two about how I can get 700 plus downloads a day at $9.99 per copy, I’d love to hear them.



P.S. - The current price is $4.99.

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