How to Write Serials: Pricing
One of the magic ingredients of serials is pricing. It's magic because the pricing is what allows readers to find you, but it is also magic because of all the options it provides you. When you're writing a single novel you only have one product to work with, and you likely only have a little wiggle room in the pricing of that single product. But over the course of writing a serial you instantly create a small backlist that gives you a few more options for testing your market, finding your audience, and learning where your sweet spot lies.
For someone brand new to the industry or still building a customer base, 99 cents and free are your best friends.
99 cents is low entry point for readers. If you have a great cover, gripping blurb, and fantastic first few pages, then you are likely to start selling a few copies, even without any fan base. Most readers are happy to pony up 99 cents for something new and exciting. Plus, once you get the first three books in your serial out you can lower the price of your first book to FREE! And free can be magical.
There are a lot of marketing options out there for free books. Even using the hashtag #FREE (and combo that with #iBooks or #Kindle) on Twitter will grab you a few eyeballs. If you combine that with some inexpensive advertising and politely ask some relevant blogs on Facebook to post your freebie then you can start to generate some buzz!
Why is free magical?
It sucks in new readers, helps build reviews, and your mailing list. Free books get more reviews because they get in front of more eyeballs. More reviews means more options for paid advertising. It also makes you look good! But the real gold mine is in building your email list. Put a link in the back of your book asking readers to signup for your mailing list to get an alert when the next book in the serial releases. Facebook comes and goes, advertisers decide who makes the cut, but everyone who subscribes to your newsletter sees what you send out. My biggest jumps in sales are always after a newsletter goes out announcing a new release and my biggest signup point is the back of my first free book in a serial.
And by the time Book 5 comes out you've got a nice little fan base going. I recommend going wide to all the retailers (unless you don't have the time/energy.) Release to all retailers and make Book 1 permafree until sales taper. When your sales taper off is the time to reevaluate your sales strategy, reprice your books and your bundle.
Here's what my pricing strategy looks like:
Book 1: 99c/Free (when book 3 releases)
Book 2: 99c
Book 3: 99c
Book 4: 99c/$1.99 (after the series is complete)
Book 5: 99c/2.99 (after the series is complete)
Box set: 3.99
I play with my prices all the time. For a while I actually put my Tease series in KU (due to family issues I didn't have the time or energy to keep up with all the retailers and sales strategy. For six months I focused solely on Amazon.)
Kindle Unlimited did affect my pricing strategy, but I was surprised by how successful it was. Even with the first book at 99 cents instead of free, readers kept picking it up! Instead of buying each book individually (because I had raised the price of every book in the series) they purchased the box set. The box set looked like a really great deal since buying the series one at a time wound up costing close to $10. The series also did well with Kindle Unlimited readers. Not so well that I stayed with KU, but for the circumstances we were in at the time, it was a very effective change for my serial.
And that's what I want you all to keep in mind. There is no single formula for success. Don't be afraid to change things up. Follow your gut instincts and keep in mind that your readers come first.
Pricing is one of your biggest assets in serial writing. The flexibility, options, and strategy give you so much to work with in a short period of time. In my next post I'll be discussing the writing process and how to schedule your serial. You can also check in tonight on First Draught! The entire show is dedicated to serials! You can find the links and information on the First Draught website!