Why I Sell My Novel For 99 Cents

There’s a lot of talk about the 99 cent ebook at the moment, so I thought I would just throw in my own 99 cents worth. Pentecost is currently 99 cents on the US Kindle store, although it started out at $2.99. It’s rank as I write this is shown above.

Here are the reasons I am leaving it at 99 cents.These are all my own reasons and may not be applicable to you, so I am not saying everyone should do this, merely why I am.

  • 99 cents is an impulse buy for anyone. My husband and I are Kindle converts and spend a lot of time reading. He isn’t an author and doesn’t keep up with the industry like I do so watching his behavior is fascinating. He buys a lot of 99 cent ebooks after downloading samples. He has tried a whole stack of indie authors based on 99 cent books and has told other people about them. It is a low risk buy and if someone enjoys the sample, they don’t even need to think about clicking when the price is under $1. I want those readers to try me as well.
  • Number of books sold is more important than income for me right now. I have a well paid day job so I am not writing for income just yet. I hope to in the future but right now, I want readers and fans. I want people signing up for Prophecy (which they do every day) and I want to build a large number of people who want to read more of my books. I am writing a series so I want to build fans now who I can sell to in the future. Hocking and others have made the first book in the series cheap (or some have made it free) and then upped the price on the subsequent books to $2.99. I may well follow suit with others in the series but for now, 99 cents is a great price for the first one.
  • The example of John Locke. Locke is rocking the Amazon charts with his 99 cent ebooks and this article is what convinced me to follow his example. He writes good thrillers with the brilliant Donovan Creed character. For 99 cents they are great value and you just buy all of them if you like what he writes. 6 books for the price of half a mainstream published book – fantastic! I’ve spent an afternoon in the hammock with Donovan Creed and it was very enjoyable! The quote below is from the interview with him.

  • JA Konrath and the impact of staying in the Amazon bestseller rank. Konrath writes the best blog for ebook authors, definitely subscribe and be inspired! He changes prices all the time and experiments with things but this got my attention “when I lowered the price of The List from $2.99 to 99 cents, I started selling 20x as many copies” (from the same Locke article). When I first launched Pentecost, I made the Amazon rankings in launch week based on my platform and my marketing activities but then I dropped out of the charts. Of course, I freaked out because I cannot sustain the effort it takes to maintain those rankings on my own. So after reading a lot of Konrath, I dropped my price to 99 cents and I haven’t left the charts since. I have been in Religious Fiction for 10 weeks now and have started ranking in Action/Adventure (which I believe in my true home!) I have definitely seen the evidence that lowering the price affected my ranking. Perhaps I should change the price back to $2.99 and see if it has an impact but for all the other reasons listed, I’m leaving it as is for now.
  • Fast-paced action-adventure thrillers won’t change your life. Pentecost will entertain you for a few hours but it won’t give you actionable tips for your business and won’t inspire you to give everything to charity or work for world peace. It is fiction and is there to take you out of your world for a time. I pay far more money for non-fiction books that will help me in a tangible manner than I will for fiction which I read once and then (often) forget. It’s not that I don’t value fiction writing, but the price you pay for entertainment has to be representative vs the price you pay for actionable content. I sell my e-courses for $39.99 and up to $297, and my workshops are also more expensive. I am definitely happy charging more when I believe you get more benefit, but with a thriller I am competing with free TV or a movie so want to price it attractively.

What do you think about the 99 cent ebook? What price do you sell for? Do you buy 99 cent ebooks?

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  1. says

    I realize this is kind of an older article, but I wonder if this still applies. I’ve been hanging out on Derek Murphy’s website, and after taking all of his advice, I have completely redone my covers and watched all of his videos. One that stuck out was the .99 cent and free marketing, and that you shouldn’t even raise your price until you have 50 to 100 reviews. That all made a lot of sense to me. I have given away tons of copies over the past two years, but I also jumped the gun: typos, bad covers, not really understanding marketing. I was so thrilled to get my work out there, that I might have really left a bad impression. Now with the new covers and new marketing, and even a newer website, I have seen a significant increase. My author ranking (though it isn’t great) is still higher than it’s been in a year. All my work has been newly formatted, and I am currently experimenting with .99 cents. I am definitely not a household name, but I am seeing a rise in reviews, and people are saying some pretty dang nice things. It’s still early, and I am certainly on a limited budget, but it also makes a lot of sense to try .99 for a while. I haven’t had the chance to really market at .99 cents, so no one can really find me yet, but I’m keeping my fingers crossed. I guess I ranted enough. Thanks for the article!

    • Joanna Penn says

      This is an older article – but these days I have price points all over the place – from free, to 99c to $2.99 to $4.99 all the way up to $12.99 – so basically, it’s best to have things at multiple price points … which means more books, better books are always the best way forward.


  1. […] Os recomiendo la lectura del artículo de Joanna Penn en su web The Creative Penn titulado Why I sell my novel for 99 cents. […]

  2. Nicole Murchadha » Blog Archive » The Writers on Writing Weekly – May 6, 2011 Edition says:

    […] Why I Sell My Novel For .99 […]

  3. […] selling 20x as many copies—about 800 a day,” Joe Konrath pointed out in this article. In this blog post, Joanna Penn explains why she lowered the price of her novel from $2.99 to 99 […]

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