Lemonade, Dammit!

An interesting thing happened to me yesterday. I've been an indie author for 16 months (in about a week). I have never, during that time, put any of my books "on sale" - meaning I've not been part of any promotion that adjusted the price of my books, nor have I ever lowered the price myself. I had eleventy-billion reasons for that choice - much of it having to do with my mental comparisons of price-switching to day-trading stocks. For my careful personality, it always seemed better to name a price and stick to it.

Yesterday, and I had to let go of all of that.

Just before I turned out my bedside light Friday night, I got this tweeted mention:

My first thought was, Wow. That can't be right. That thought was followed by a wee bit of panic and a Psshh, surely not - she must have read it wrong.

I checked Easy's page on Amazon and sure enough - it was $0.99. Cue increased panic.

I emailed KDP and asked why my book had been discounted 75% without my knowledge or consent, and then I went to bed. It was a fitful night, but I had faith that when I woke up, it would be fixed.

It wasn't.

Amazon price-matches - it's part of their philosophy as a company. Armed with that knowledge and the first cup of coffee of the day, I checked prices at the three other retailers I use for digital sales. All were correct. More coffee and more panic followed, as I checked for an erroneous price listed anywhere on the Internet, knowing that if Amazon's web-crawler had picked up what it perceived to be a lower price, they'd be bound to match it.

I found nothing, and Easy's rank on Amazon was still sitting very close to the same spot it had occupied the day before, which meant it was selling pretty much the same number of books... at 75% less. And had been for about 10 hours.

Most of you would have allowed me a Serious Panicked Moment at this point. But this was also when the Interesting Thing happened. I spotted a possible silver lining: readers who couldn't afford the price I'd set, or hadn't been sure about buying Easy before, might buy it at 99 cents. As long as they knew about it. So I asked blogger, reader and author friends on Facebook for help spreading the word, and then I went to Twitter:

Like magic, the panic disappeared. I was calm. I was good. That sort of reaction isn't the norm for me, but I think it needs to be. Because it felt AWESOME. Trusting that this snafu would be fixed eventually, I watched the glee with which people shared it, and it was pretty freaking cool.

Finally, a couple of hours later, I got an explanation in an email from Amazon. To paraphrase: Oops, we forgot to ask you to be a part of a promotion. One of the reasons they make requests before adding authors to promotions is because Amazon promotions are usually quite beneficial - so authors have to agree to certain terms and conditions. If you don't agree, you aren't included.

Unless someone forgets to ask.

There were a couple of conditions I couldn't agree to, so they were waived. Having already set my own promotion in motion, along with a few supportive, enthusiastic friends who love to read, I belatedly agreed to participate (for the remaining 12 hours of the day). I was given links to the promotion in which Easy was already enrolled - amongst a group of 400 back-to-school books for college students.

At the end of the day, I broke even financially, thanks to the concerted effort of readers, reviewers and authors who Facebook-shared the news and/or gifted copies to their friends and followers (!), and who tweeted and retweeted the news on Twitter. (So. Appreciative.)

But best of all - Easy moved up in rank about sixty spots. Sixty spots! I don't know if it will stick for long or at all, but at the moment I'm all about the lemonade. :) And the gratefulness. And the not panicking. (Turns out my Pisces Blackout Horoscope was right for August after all!)

Tammara Webber

New York Times and international bestselling author of contemporary romantic fiction