Big Names at Lower Prices Crowd Out Indies

This article by mystery author Toby Neal is anecdotal, from what I can tell, but plausible. She draws a connection between the end of the ebook publishing price-fixing case and Amazon beginning to discount deeply big-name author ebooks in September, and her own sales decreasing sharply.

… in September, my sales went to half of what they’d been. They’ve stayed at half what they’d been in spite of doing active marketing, ads on Kirkus Reviews, giveaways, promos in those same lists I get in my email inbox, and launching two new books.

It’s like being the wimpy kid at the beach in that old commercial from the comics, getting sand kicked in your eye. Cheaper pricing was our advantage as indies.

It seems that, given the choice, customers prefer discounts, but when pricing becomes more similar, the better-known brands win out. The lesson for comics is obvious — people are more willing to try your comic if it’s (length and quality being equivalent) $2.50 to the big guys’ $3.99, or $10 for a trade instead of $15, or 99 cents for a digital issue instead of $2.99. (But avoid the deep-discount digital sales weekends when you’re promoting!)

Neal goes on to provide some advice on diversifying to compete, including focusing on loyal readers. I’d remind publishers, attracting new readers is great, but not at the expense of the loyal ones who have been supporting you throughout.

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