We’re celebrating Day 17 of the blog tour as one of the featured thrillers in the Indie Book Blowout, 12 Days of Christmas event. From December 12 – 24, many great indie titles in all genres will be available for 99 cents.
Some of you just cringed, I’m sure of it. You’re thinking there has to be something wrong with a book priced at 99 cents. But the ebook revolution has turned the book world on its head, and open-minded readers can find some amazing values hidden at the 99-cent price point.
Truth be told, the most remarkable characteristic of books priced at 99 cents is their wide disparity in quality and value. For the same dollar, you’ll find individual short stories, novellas, short novels and epics in every genre. A traditional novel ranges from 70,000 to 120,000 words (King of Paine, weighs in at 106,000), but many authors now writing with the e-book market in mind whip out much shorter novels every few months. There’s nothing wrong with that, but value-conscious readers should know whether they’re purchasing 15 hours of entertainment for their buck or just three, an intricately-crafted adventure or a seat-of-the-pants lark.
Editorial quality also varies wildly, and I fear reader frustration with the poorly-edited material flooding the market could cause many excellent books to get overlooked. Bad books are available at every price point, however, and an astute reader who understands why an author would price a great book at such a low price can find ways to mine for these buried treasures.
Two reasons drove me to the decision to price King of Paine at 99 cents for a limited time despite my belief that it’s of comparable quality to the work of today’s popular suspense authors.
First, competition among unproven authors is fierce, and other outstanding writers vying for your attention are introducing their books at this price point. Even the most obsessive readers could not sample all new novels in their genres of choice, never mind keep up with their favorite branded authors. The 99-cent price point urges readers to take a chance on someone new, and a confident writer believes they’ll come back for more. (So does a fool, but book bloggers and reader reviews can help you sort them out.)
Second, e-books must reach a critical level of sales to obtain optimal placement by Amazon’s and Barnes & Noble’s referral algorithms, and low price may be the only way for a new author to drive sales volume to those heights. Without those internal referrals on the bookseller websites, an author would have to devote an unhealthy amount of time to self-promotion to achieve even modest sales. (After 17 days on the blog tour, I know something about spending an unhealthy amount of time on self-promotion–this does not come naturally to me!)
It takes far more than a low price to make a successful e-book, but the savviest new authors are choosing the 99-cent price point, many of whom are featured in the Indie Book Blowout. There is also some trash in the bargain bin, but readers who dismiss all 99-cent e-books are missing out on some terrific values. Try a little experiment. Scan the book covers on the event site and click on a few that interest you. You can usually tell by the review blurbs cited in the Amazon book description and from a quick sampling of reader reviews whether you’ve struck gold.
For example, here are a few review blurbs from bloggers on the King of Paine blog tour:
“Larry Kahn has managed to create a cast of unforgettable characters, throwing in a bit of sex and misadventure, while infusing it with legal, moral, and ethical dilemmas. To say that I thought the King of Paine was brilliantly written would be an understatement. I sat down to read the book in the morning and was unable to put it down until I read the very last page!” –The Write To Make A Living
“The writing is perfect. It just fits the plot and the characters. It’s that perfect understated writing that works so well for this kind of book. I felt like I could dig into the story and the people in it, and I think it is all due to Larry’s awesome writing. Plus, that plot? Holy hell! I never could have seen the twists and turns coming.” –Owl Tell You About It
“King of Paine is the second book I have read this year that I thought would make a great movie…I definitely recommend this one. Once I started reading, I couldn’t walk away from it.” –From the TBR Pile
“This is the kind of book where you can open it on ANY page and the story just pulls you in. It’s that good!..His characters, in particular Jolynn are well thought out and masterfully crafted. I have to admit i’ve heard the comparison between The Girl and the Dragon Tattoo and King of Paine and in my opinion, Kahn is better. I was never bored, in fact I hung onto every word in this story.” –Boekie’s Book Reviews
Does that sound like a trashy bargain bin read? You can buy the ebook edition now for 99 cents: