Thursday, February 24, 2011

Use a Blog to Beta Test Your Book.

It's easy: I've been trying to sell would-be and existing book authors on using blogs for years. You can use a blog in a variety of ways as an author. 
  • You can build an audience on your chosen topic before you officially publish. 
  • You can test out characters, concepts, approaches, and ideas before committing them between book covers. 
  • You can share chapter drafts with your friends, family, and fans--and get the bugs out.
I'm trying the last approach with my new memoir. Using my blogging tool's ability to create pages, I've set up a "Contents" page that will allow visitors to step through the book chapter by chapter if they want and make whatever comments they'd like. Within reason. If they're inappropriate--perhaps selling real estate instead of saying anything relevant to the topic--they'll get bounced. Other than that, I'm expecting a little help in eliminating typos, booboos, memory errors and the like. Check out From Rome to Jerusalem. See you there. The Publishing Pro.

How Do You Price Your Ebook?

Nobody knows ... yet: With printed books, publishers generally used a multiple of either printing costs or preparation/printing costs. The multiple varied--and some books could naturally carry a higher price than others--but the idea was to have a price that took into consideration the preparation/manufacturing costs and provided a cushion for necessary discounting.

Ebooks have thrown the industry into a tizzy. Because there is no manufacturing cost, the idea of a multiple based on that is out the window. And what is the per book cost anyway? Nothing? Or next to nothing? So do you sell the books for free?

Apparently, some authors think so. Especially, new fiction authors. It's common for them to sell their "books" for 99 cents. Does this work? It doesn't make sense to me, but some authors swear by it.

Let's step back and think about this for a minute.

First, is an Ebook worth less than a printed book? On the face of it, why should it be? If the content is the same, shouldn't it have the same value? Well, the answer is a little more complicated than it appears to be. For example, some Ebooks have a poorer content, thanks to the inability in some cases to carry images the way a book can or to carry any images at all. On the other hand, some Ebooks have a richer content, thanks to the ability in some cases to carry sound, video, widgets, and links between words, phrases, and images. In this case, the searchable and more entertaining Ebook ought to be worth more. So why should an Ebook cost less than a printed book--just because it's an Ebook.

Second, what is your book worth? Is it really worth only 99 cents? If someone buys your book for 99 cents, what are they going to think it's worth--besides 99 cents?

Third, what are other people charging for their books? I'm just going to ignore this one, because other people don't know what they are doing, at least the ones charging 99 cents for their books. They might as well be selling pencils on a street corner.

Here's what I suggest.

If you have a printed version of your book, charge no less than 50% for your Ebook version than for your printed version. You don't have to cover printing costs, but you need to be wary of underpricing your work. If you have the courage, charge only 25% less. If your Ebook has much more to it than the printed book--additional media and features to the point where it's not really a book any more--all bets are off. You could charge more for it, but you probably won't. I'd just like to see you try. The Publishing Pro, LLC.