Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Question Marks

First, here are the latest stores stocking the book: The Book Works in Del Mar, CA (they have a special Mind-Brain series); The Bookloft in Great Barrington, MA (they take Berkshares); and Village Books in Bellingham, WA, which now has its own Espresso Book Machine! And this just in: Warwick's in La Jolla, a longtime favorite and a true mecca when I lived out there.

Now for the questions part: I continue to be confounded by Amazon. (I know I’m far from alone here.) They initially priced the book at $23.95. I felt that was too high so was willing to lose $2 in royalty to offer it at a fairer price. Now, inexplicably, they’ve got it listed at $12.20 (44 % off). This makes it some $2 cheaper than at the Northshire and $2 more than I pay per copy. Hey wait a second—I didn’t forego $2 per book so that Amazon could undercut my publisher. Questions abound: What does this mean for me strategically? Should just order a bunch from Amazon myself, paying $2 more but then 1) improving my Amazon rank (something I haven’t paid attention to) and 2) receiving that $2 back in royalties? Will I ever be able to reach someone at Amazon or will the price continue to vacillate seemingly of its own accord? For the time being, it appears that Amazon’s got the book for cheap (super-cheap with Super-Saver shipping.) As for my lower royalty, oh, don’t mind me...the satisfaction from the higher Amazon ranking will just have to suffice. (Here’s something to think about: are authors so addicted to looking up our rankings that we let the company do whatever it wants?)

Another question: Did I price the book too low? I had rationalized it by thinking I'd make more sales if it’s priced more accessibly. But is that really the case? Truth is, I see that books are selling for $15.95 (or even higher!) that have less incisive wit, fewer life-changing epiphanies, and, well, are just not as all-around fabulous. Am I stuck with $14.95 forever? What would happen if I raised it a dollar? And what would be the best way to do that, just quietly change the price and hope nobody notices? Or would I announce it to give people the chance to get it at the lower price? (Wal-Mart-type day-after-Thanksgiving stampede…)

Now for a marketing question: I now have bookmarks—quite eye-catching, thanks to Amy’s design. Which is the better use of them: 1) to draw attention to the book in stores; or 2) to place in books sold as an extra?

My son once said that if he were to put our dog, Thembi, in a comic, he would always draw her with a question mark over her head. I thought that was quite astute; she always has this wonderful curious/concerned look about her. So in the spirit of inquiry and inquisitiveness, here is a picture of Thembi (she's asking: "Does my winter coat make me look fat?")

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