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What’s in a Sale Price (An open letter to Johnny B Truant)

06 Jan

In today’s Self Publishing Podcast Johnny B Truant said:

“A book is F*ing $3. As an artist I have a little bit of a problem with the idea that people would balk at that.”

I’ve been having a similar discussion with people regarding games. Specifically the idea that game makers, like Sony, want to curtail second hand game sales, like Gamestop, as they feel that used games are lost revenue.

Here the crux of the matter…. Even if you managed to stop every free/sale/used transaction for every single item in the entire world, producers of content still won’t make more money, for one really simple fact: we can’t all afford new.

Yes, you’re an artist. Your product is worth money. I get it, I’m a writer too. I want to earn a living off my writing as well. However, you are looking at it from the perspective of “this is my stuff, you’re getting my stuff, and you should pay me what I think it’s worth.”

Game developers also have the added incite of “this is how much it cost us to make this game, and this is how many we think we can sell this month.” So they slap a tag for $60 on it, and release it. They are absolutely right that the game is worth, from their perspective, $60 dollars.

Now, lets look at it from my perspective.

I’m a single mom of three. I love books and games. I am teaching my three children to also love books and games. I make less then $2k a month, and my bills alone suck up most of that money.

$60 is one bill. Or a car full of groceries  Or two pairs of shoes. Or two tanks of gas to get to work. Or three nice dates with my wonderful boyfriend.

So I wait till games are on sale, (got to love Steam!) or I wait till the price comes down. Two, three years after a AAA title has come out and grossed the company millions of dollars it might be available for $20 from the company. Maybe. If I’m lucky. Or I can hit a used bin and possibly find it for a little less. It still won’t be that cheap, but maybe I can finally play it.

It’s the same with books, only most of the time I have to go to the library. Sometimes, if i really love a book, or an author, I will splurge and buy their book. Maybe give it to a friend, or sell it back to Half Priced Books, more then likely just keep it on my shelf. Keep in mind I read about 50+ books a year. I can’t afford to buy all of those even if they are only $3.

Yes, you as an artist deserve to be paid for your work. I, as an upcoming author, deserve to be paid for my work. But not everyone is in the same place that you are. Not all of us are able to go out and buy every book/game we want.

I currently own over 23 of David Write and Sean Platts books. I got a lot of them for free, and then I started buying them. I joined Seans list and got this nifty little email saying “Thanks for joining, I’d like to give you a free book.” I turned it down because I already had so many of their books. I also own several Johnny B Truant books, and I bought most of them, but I did get several for free.

I try to repay in my way by giving reviews, and sharing the podcast with other writers, and by buying a few now and then when I have some extra money. But I keep a look out for sale prices of my favorite authors.

Steam is actually an incredible example of what sale prices can do. Summer sales, and winter sales on Steam can lower game prices up to as much as 75% off games, sometimes more. And what happened? Well I bought 80+ games this year. I know I’m not the only one. Steam sales more games during these sales, and they make more for the people selling games through them then any other time of the year.

When you lower the price a lot more people see it, and buy it. You make up for lower prices through volume.

Now, Steam has an amazing platform, they have sales specifically a few times a year, and a few games on sale each day. They can afford to do this, and they do it well. While books are a bit different  you shouldn’t discount the power of “free” through KDP.

TL;DR Remember that your buyers are made up of different kinds of people. We can’t all afford things at the higher prices, so giving us intensives (sales and freebies) will get us interested, and may get you future sales, reviews, and rating to drive future business. It’s about making a brand, not just making a buck.

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Posted by on January 6, 2013 in Commentary, On Writing

 

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