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C.D. Reimer

Since I'm mostly a short story writer, I published short story ebooks for $0.99 each. From my sales data over the last 10 months, reprint content sells better than original content. Listing the first appearance of print publication in the product description and on the title page reassures the reader that the short story was good enough to be accepted and published elsewhere.

I decided to double down on this strategy by focusing on getting my short stories into print (first sales), waiting for the exclusive period to end (one year for print anthologies), and releasing the ebooks (infinite sales). The traditional publishers says you can't make a living selling short stories. That is something I want to prove wrong in 2012.

Dana Lynn Smith

C.D., that's an interesting strategy - thanks for sharing. I wish you much success with your short stories and ebooks!

Joseph Veramu

Thanks; this is a very insightful post that will be very helpful to e authors.
I gather that there is a co-relation between fiction and full length works in relation to what readers purchase.
I wonder if there are exceptions where say genres of short lengths/short stories like erotica or children's stories might still sell (even though they are short works)
This is a very interesting post by Mark Coker and I have posted a thread on it (ie the savvy book marketer) in the Amazon Authors Forum.



Dana Lynn Smith

Joseph, I'm glad you enjoyed the article and thanks for sharing it on the Kindle forum. I think part of what Mark is saying is that books should meet the expectations of customers and their perception of value. For instance, children's stories are normally shorter than adult fiction, so that would be expected. But if an ebook sounds like a standard novel in the description then turns out to be much shorter than normal, readers may be disappointed. You can address that in the book description if necessary.

C.D. Reimer

Joseph, When it comes to short story ebooks, your market is the impulse buyer who wants something to read as they stand in line or sit in the waiting room. The more short story ebooks you have for sale, the greater chances of making a sale.

For readers who want something longer or a better value for their money, I offer an omnibus ebook with 18 short stories from ten ebooks for $2.99. They save 69% by not buying all ten ebooks separately.

My plan for 2012 is to release a minimum of one short story ebook per month and combine them all together for an omnibus edition at the end of the year.

Dana Lynn Smith

C.D. Thanks for sharing your short story strategy.


Another strategy is to write a series of books, so readers will pursue reading them all, once they tap into one ebook and like it. I have forty books about a specific subject or niche that has a lot of room for learning, growth and expansion. I am partnering with a couple of angels, but that strategy might not work for everyone.

Over forty books are in the process of being published via Smashwords, with two already up and available for purchase. My plan is to also joint venture with other authors or writers, so contact me if you are interested. I have already published one of the two books as a joint venture with another author who has 60 hardcover books.

My subject matter is nonfiction; The Science Of Sustainable Health.

I am extremely grateful that Smashwords is available, or those forty books may still be sitting there.

Dan Cafaro


I've seen you speak on this subject as well - and as much as I'm torn about the long-term ramifications for independent presses, I believe you're spot-on accurate in your advice to authors. I'm not sure there's room enough at the table for all to share in the digital feast, but it's good to know that innovators such as yourself are keeping Amazon and other conglomerates on their toes.

As you may note from this blog post (http://atticusbooksonline.com/a-death-wish-to-old-style-capitalism), I have been reticently approaching the new publishing paradigm with a "slowly proceed with caution" mentality. It now appears that I may need to kick it into high gear if I want to stay the course.

Marko List

I think selling any Ebook, you should just take the fact on how much time, and how much work you`ve invested in the ebook, also, considering low price to receive more buyouts, sometimes its worth to give up a small bit, to earn more readers, and more buyers.


Mark, you always talk good sense, with clear, thorough thinking. But as someone who released a novel this year in serial form, I have to take issue with the comments on serialisation (negligable though they are). In September I released my novel in four episodes over four weeks. It didn't fail for me. In fact, I think it worked rather well.

Looking at my sales figures, nearly everyone who's buying my novel in episodes is completing the set, although it's over a much longer time frame than the month of release. And new people are buying episode 1. They could actually just buy the whole book in one conventional edition - but they're choosing to take it by episodes.

Whether other authors should serialise is another question. When I did it, it was new enough (or archaic enough) to get attention and create an event. Now it might be a case of 'so what?'

Done properly, it does not jeopardise reader trust - as my results prove.

Good post - just thought you might like to hear from someone who has serialised and emerged with reputation - and reader faith - intact.


Great stuff Mark. You continue to be so generous with authors, indeed with everyone in the industry, by sharing your strong insights. Pricing has gone from being an automatic multiple of manufacturing costs to the most important strategic decision every author and publisher must make.

Carol Mizrahi

I am selling my e-book at 99-cents. What I can't find on the Smashwords site is the Paypal charge. Since that is deducted from the sales price (rightly so) before figuring the author's percentage, it seems important to know what the Paypal charge is. Might not be worth adding to Smashwords' inventory.


Mark Coker

Hi Carol, when you set the price at Smashwords, we display a dynamic pie chart that shows how the pie is sliced based on where the book is sold. Any Smashwords author can view the cuts at any time before publishing by clicking to "Publish" and then enter in sample prices.

Gary Weston

Hi. One thing I discovered by accident, is the sample size. By that I mean that it can be exactly tailored to a particular book. On one book, "Seriously?" I realized the set amount ie 20% would leave the reader at quite a flat part of the book. By downloading it on my PC kindle, I went through the book and determined 85% is the real cliff hanger. Thinking if I read 85% of a book, i sure as hell would want the last 15 %. (sounds good in theory) so, I deleted the number in the sample size in settings and added 85 % and it worked. It will be interesting to see if this turns into sales. Others might find this useful? Regards, Gary.

Dana Lynn Smith

Thanks for your note, Gary. You can change the sample size for books published on Smashwords, but I'm not aware of a way to do that in Amazon. I believe Amazon used to show a 10% or 20% sample, but how the button says "read the first chapter free."

Jay Deng

One crucial thing that Coker never mentioned is the competition. Research the genre of the book you are writing and study the price points of other books in the same category. Just because a book sells better at a 0.99 or 2.99 price point doesn't mean much because you have to price your book based on the competition.

If you are writing a horror novel and the number one selling book is priced at around say, 8 dollars, you should be just slightly above or below that figure. Of course, this also depends on the quality of the book as well. If you are confident the book is on the same level as your competitors, price it accordingly!

Dana Lynn Smith

Jay, thanks for your note. I agree that it's a good idea to consider the price points of your competition. But I think consumers are willing to pay more for books from well-known authors, especially for fiction. Here is an interesting article that discusses pricing for overall profitability:

Experimenting with Ebook Pricing by Aaron Patterson http://bit.ly/qoTzpJ

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