S. J. Kelley

Tag Archive: Pricing

More on seasons / episodes

After reading more about ebook pricing, I’m thinking my initial plan my need to be revised.

Writing / Editing Release Date Book Length Price
May 4 – 31, 2015 Oct 4, 2015 Season 1: Episode 1 ~25k FREE
Jun 1 – 28, 2015 Oct 4, 2015 Season 1: Episode 2 ~25k $2.99
Jun 29 – Aug 5, 2015 Nov 1, 2015 Season 1: Episode 3 ~25k $2.99
Aug – Oct 11, 2015 Nov 29, 2015 Season 1: Episode 4 ~25k $2.99
Oct 12, 2015 Dec 26, 2015 Season 1: Omnibus ~100k $5.99 (save 33%)
Oct 13 – Dec 15, 2015 Feb 7, 2016 Season 2: Episode 1 ~25k $2.99
Dec 15/’15 – Feb 16, 2016 Mar 20, 2016 Season 2: Episode 2 ~25k $2.99
Feb 17 – Mar 13, 2016 Apr 17, 2016 Season 2: Episode 3 ~25k $2.99
Mar 14 – Apr 6, 2016 May 15, 2016 Season 2: Episode 4 ~25k $2.99
Apr 6 – May 1, 2016 Jun 12, 2016 Season 2: Omnibus ~100k $6.99 (save 42%)

While books are on pre-order I’ll list them at a reduced price of $1.99 per episode, or 4.99/5.99 per season.

I’ve also come up with a new writing schedule. I reduced my hours at work to 3 days a week, but my Tuesdays and Thursdays seem to get swallowed up by my to-do list backlog, and I get less than 2-3 hours of writing in. I thought if I had a more strict schedule on those days I could treat it like a job. I wouldn’t be late for work or not put in the time, so why should I not put the time into this career? The schedule below allows for 8 hours of sleep per night (I need 8.5 to feel normal according to my sleep experiment, but this will probably do).

Monday, Wednesday, Friday, Sunday (1.5 hr/day; 6 hr/week)
8:15 pm – 9:45 pm Novel (1.5 hr)
9:45 pm – 9:50 pm Get ready for bed
9:50 pm – 10:30 pm Leisure

Tuesday, Thursday (7.5 hr/day; 15 hr/week)
8:30 am – 10:00 am Novel (1.5 hr)
10:00 am – 10:30 am Break
10:30 am – 12:00 pm Novel (1.5 hr)
12:00 pm – 12:45 pm Lunch
12:45 pm – 2:15 pm Novel (1.5 hr)
2:15 pm – 2:45 pm Break
2:45 pm – 4:15 pm Novel (1.5 hr)
4:15 pm – 5:00 pm Life stuff / Logistics
8:15 pm – 9:45 pm Novel (1.5 hr)
9:45 pm – 9:50 pm Get ready for bed
9:50 pm – 10:30 pm Leisure

Saturday (4 hr/day and week)
10:00 am – 12:30 pm Novel (2.5 hr)
8:15 pm – 9:45 pm Novel (1.5 hr)
9:45 pm – 9:50 pm Get ready for bed
9:50 pm – 10:30 pm Leisure

In total I’ll get in 25 hours a week this way. I have 10 weeks left on this schedule, then one week of vacation while kids are in summer camp (writing binge like T/R schedule; 37.5 hrs), then 2 weeks vacation of nothing, and then I’m back to working 5 days a week, so I’ll only get in 1.5 hours every night (10.5 hours per week). Note that all of these times are actual writing/editing times. In my “leisure” and during my 20 min coffee / 30 min lunch breaks at work I’ll read business related things such as blogs like The Passive Voice and forums such as KBoards, and will try to squeeze marketing in those times as well.

According to my spreadsheet I average a measly 390 WPH writing, and edit at 2500 WPH. I’m hoping to finish editing Episode 1 this week, so starting Monday I’ll have 75k remaining. Each episode will take me 64 hours to write and 10 to edit, so about 75 hours total. By the time I add covers and promo planning, about 85 hours, or 3.5 weeks (lets round to 4 weeks because I have to learn book layouts and how to upload, etc). I’ll use my summer camp week to arrange promos, covers, beta readers, etc. I want to have the whole thing done before work picks up again and also before the first release, because I like to go back and add hints to make sure they’re all a cohesive document. I won’t be able to do that with season 2, but hopefully things pick up enough that I can work less at the day job all year, not just for a few months.

Releasing a book as “episodes” and “seasons”

I know I don’t really have an audience, so I’ll just apologize to myself for not being around in a while. In week seven I had my best week yet, largely because I was getting up very early (4:30 in the morning early) and actually getting things done. Then I decide to switch to writing after the kids were in bed, since I’ve always been a night owl at heart, but I ended up being so burnt out from work and getting up early for weeks that I’d just surf the Internet or waste time, often staying up until one or two in the morning and being a zombie the next day. Epic fail.

But that’s all in the past, right?

I spent the day coming back to the idea of serialization, which I first talked about in March. There’s been some debate on KBoards about how readers would respond to the different types of serialization. In the most traditional sense, a serial has a clear beginning, middle, and end, despite being a short piece. Meanwhile, a series is often thought of as several related, standard length books that can be read in any order. Apparently the term “saga” refers to what I usually consider to be a series, which are standard length books with a clear beginning, middle, and end that must be read in a specific order to understand the overarching plot.

The people posting on KBoards seem to be in one of two camps when it comes to splitting a traditional novel into several parts that have no clear beginning, middle, and end, and finish with a cliffhanger. The first believes that readers will consider it nothing more than a money grab, and that they will become annoyed and leave several one star reviews. The logic is that even if the serialization is designed for borrows through Kindle Unlimited, there will inevitably be a number of buyers who won’t appreciate having to pay for one book several times. Of course, if one were to price each of the installments at $.99, over a four part serialization the author would only earn $1.20. If the same book was sold for $3.99, the author would earn $2.79. So clearly serialization is not a money grab, but readers may not realize this. I think the key is keeping the pricing of each individual installment approximately the same as the pricing of the box set.

The second camp believes that serialization is a good way to maximize the benefit from the 30 day hot new releases algorithm. Also, readers are less likely to buy a book from an author who only has one book published, and breaking a novel into several parts will increase the number of books available. Several authors have had great success with this approach. Key is having a very clear blurb that specifically says the book is an installment and that it ends on a cliffhanger. As readers of short works are a different target audience than readers of full novels, posters on KBoards also recommend saying that the books will be bundled when the last one is released, so that those who prefer a longer novel format can wait until it is available.

So my current plan is to completely write the book so that I can work in hints in the early stages, but to publish it as for “episodes” approximately 25,000 words long, roughly corresponding to Act 1, Act 2a, Act 2b, and Act 3. The Self-Publishing Podcast started applying the “episode” TV term to serialization as people are familiar with TV episodes that must be watched in order and end on a cliffhanger. The SPP guys release all episodes as a “season” in one fell swoop, Netflix style. I plan on stretching the releases a bit more than this to maximize the algorithm, but for the most part think the terms “episodes” and “seasons” are ideal.

My plan is to release the box set when people are getting their new kindles for Christmas. Each preceding release would occur a month before that date, with the exception that the first and second episodes will be published at the same time. The purpose of this is for the first episode to act as a free loss leader, and the second is immediately available to show that I am an author doing this for the long term. As a reader myself, I will seldom buy into a series if only one book is available because the author may just drop off the face of the earth.

September 2015: Release episode one as free. Have episode two available for $1.99, and episode three available through preorder for $1.99, with release in October 2015.

October 2015: Episode three is published. Episode four is available through preorder for $1.99.

November 2015: Episode four is published. Box set is available through preorder for $4.99.

December 2015: Box set is published.

Total cost to reader purchasing individual episodes: $5.97
Total royalties for selling all four individual episodes: $1.79

Total cost to reader buying boxed set: $4.99 (savings of 16%)
Total royalties for selling boxed set: $3.49

Given the above calculations, it may look like serialization is a bad idea, however exposure is key. By having two books available from the onset, I’ll have the benefit of a loss leader with an immediate funnel to a purchase. Also, by releasing the next two episodes and the box set within the 30 day window, a title should be available on the hot new releases list for four months, instead of just one. If I’ve learned anything from reading KBoards it’s that getting discovered is one of the most difficult hurdles to overcome in self-publishing, so I’m hoping this plan will work.

To serialize or not to serialize

When I woke up a little past midnight tonight my brain was ruminating over whether or not to serialize my first book to take advantage of putting it in Kindle Unlimited and having ‘many books’ available right out of the gate.  My brain refused to turn off until an hour later, despite the fact that I have to wake up at 4:30…

Anyway, I was thinking of doing something along the lines of what Sean Platt, Johnny Truant, and David Wright of the Self Publishing Podcast do with their seasons and episodes. They’ve amassed quite a few of them now, so I was trying to figure out how long each one was. I’ve separated them into works with Sean and Johnny, and works with Sean and Dave, because when Johnny writes the first draft I find they tend to go longer and if edited could have been about 20% shorter. Kindle estimates on the high end of the standard 250 – 350 words per page and uses 350, so the word counts below are going by the page length of their complete seasons for season 1:

The episodes have chapters in them that run about 2-3k each.

Well, now I’ve used an hour of my writing time to satisfy my brain munchings and set up the above with Amazon affiliate links, so I should head back to actually writing the stuff I may or may not eventually serialize.