After I posted my review for the year with a look at PWYW vs fixed price I posted it on G+ and was lucky enough that Kevin Crawford from Sin Nomine Publishing and Stars without Number fame dropped by and shared some advice. I highly respect the man and what he has accomplished in the last few years, so better sit up and listen when he has something to say. He knows his stuff. I asked him if I could reblog his thoughts so they are not lost when G+ goes away. He graciously agreed, so here they are:
PWYW is not generally a good idea for most publishers, from what I’ve seen. It has very limited profitability and it seriously decreases downloads because people just don’t want to get involved in the tacit social obligation to judge the product and pay for it if they like it.
In your shoes I would suggest aiming for 32 page products, even if they’re in digest format. At 32+ pages, you can justifiably do a print version, where even at cheap 9.99 print prices you’re going to be getting good profits. A 32 page standard-color small-format product at $9.99 will net you a bit north of $4 for each sale.
Make a few freebie PDF/pay POD products to fatten up your mailing list and cycle it with each new product, mailing your old buyers and pointing to the new release. You could also optionally add a couple pages of bonus content to the POD to give a further prompt to buyers. Eventually, you can start offering for-pay PDFs, but when you do so, I’d recommend a floor price of $4.99. Below that level, buyers tend to unconsciously associate it with shovelware titles or stuff even the author doesn’t think is worth anything.
Getting POD down right does take some practice, and it is a bit more complicated than just doing PDF, but it’s too much of a profit source to neglect on any 32+ page product. I tend to sell about 3:1 PDF:POD ratio, but on a standard 9.99 PDF/19.99 POD softcover supplement I make about 50% more selling paper than I would selling PDF. And as a side note, always make sure to release PDF and POD at the same time; if you stagger the releases, you get the initial wave coming to look at the PDF, but they decide to hold off until the POD is available… and then they never come back. Most publishers have exactly one shot at the front page and can’t afford to waste it.
I never considered POD before but it looks like my new goal for 2019 is getting a game out in POD! After all, getting some money for my games is the only way I can afford continue doing them.