Monday, June 25, 2012

Rolling Back to Move Forward: Taking a Page from Walmart's Playbook

-posted by Saul

So, I was in Walmart the other day checking out the new Lego Batman game for my son, when an Associate comes over and changes the price on another game. I think the correct term is "roll back."  We'd been looking at the game for a while but on the fence about buying it. The price wasn't bad; the game looked good, but it was from a gamemaker we'd not tried before. And, you know, you just never know. I'd been burned before. Well, the savings was for 5 dollars off the regular price of $19.99. Pretty substantial. Hard to resist.

"Price is good for a week," the Associate told us. I believe his name was Herb. Seems like all Walmart Associates are either named Herb or Mabel and are much too happy for their own good. Well, except for the Greeter I met last summer, a real talkative fellow named Ulysses. He was happy too. Had a smile the size of his arm, but that's neither here nor there.

"A week, huh?"

"Ayup. Not a day longer."

I expected him to stick a piece of straw between his teeth and start chewing on it. He didn't. I don't think Walmart would've approved.

Anyway, I bought the game. And I'll be damned! It's pretty good. Nice graphics, a compelling story, entertaining.

As a relatively unknown self-published author in the already crowded field of horror speculative fiction--a field further maligned by its glut of unoriginal, poorly edited and mindless drivel--I know how hard it is to find new customers. I can't compete with the Jon Konraths and the Stephen Kings, the Walmart and Sam's Club of thriller fiction, respectively. But I can compete with practically everyone else. After all, no author's selection is limitless. The trick is to get customers to try them in the first place. I;ve offered samplers, and it's brought in a few fans (I love you guys!). But a writer lives and dies on whether s/he can build a significant readership. Which means geting more people to try.

So, I'm rolling back the prices on both my horror/spec fic collections, from $4.99 to $2.99. But only until July 1. That's over 80,000 words of paranormal, horror, scifi madness in each collection. Seven tales in Insomnia; eight in Undead.

Why only till July 1st? Because I don't think it does anyone any favors--myself or my fellow authors--to undervalue products to the point where expectations of undervaluation become the norm. We've all seen what KDP Select's free promos have done to the market. Sale ends July 1, not a day longer.

I'm going back to Walmart this weekend to check out the gamemaker's other games now. If they're on sale, great. If not, that's okay, too. I wonder if Ulysses will be there.

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Both Insomnia and Undead & Other Horrors are available from
Insomnia is also available from Smashwords (and its distribution partners).
Both are also available from in paperback.


About Saul

eFiction magazine calls Saul an author armed with "a PhD and a whacked out sense of humor."

Saul spent his formative years in a leaky century-old house overlooking the Erie Canal in Upstate New York. His bedroom was a refurbished attic, which he shared with all manner of creatures, not all, he is convinced, flesh and blood.

After bouncing around the US and Europe for several years, he settled down to pursue a career in the sciences, opting to study the mysteries of human molecular genetics. But even positions as an experimental biologist, teacher, manager and biotech entrepreneur couldn't keep him from his true passion as a storyteller.

He now writes speculative fiction full time from his home in the San Francisco Bay Area. Although his house is now attic-less and waterproof, he continues to be haunted by a variety of creatures, including a wife, kids, four dogs, three cats, six chickens, a wayward rooster, and one very grumpy possum. They are all flesh and blood.

Except, maybe, for the possum, which he's convinced is the reincarnated spirit of Jack Torrance.

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