Saturday, August 3, 2013

The Great eBook Pricing Dilemma

I got $3 over here, do I hear $4?
Two years, when I started this great self-publishing escapade, I did my fair share of research regarding ebook pricing. When all was said and done, I settled on $2.99 for the price of my full-length novel. I thought it was the standard going rate and as an unknown, I didn't expect anyone to want to pay more than that. I rated my writing at $3. $3 for a full-length novel. $3 for something that, had I been traditionally published, would command a price upwards of $9.99.

At the time, it made sense. $2.99 was sort of the standard indie number. It seemed that the majority of titles from colleagues were being set at the same price point. I dabbled with free back when Select had the most benefit (early 2012) and even dipped for a while into the $0.99 waters, without much luck. Since then, I honestly hadn't given much thought to pricing my book. Now, with the coming release of my book's sequel, the argument had crept back into my mind:
Am I short-changing myself at $2.99? In short, I felt the answer was "Yes."

So, that's why I'm changing my pricing regimen. I'm taking that leap of faith and asking... for a whole dollar more. I know, it's risky. $4 seems like so much more than $3, but it really isn't. I figure if erotica writers can get away with selling 15 pages "stories" for $2.99, then I can sell a 70,000-word novel for $3.99 and not feel too guilty.

I think the self-published market is experiencing dynamic change. People are recognizing the fact that quality work is coming from independent authors. I think more and more of those authors are taking chances with their pricing schemes and finding success. I'm feeling more confident about my pricing decision. It allows me more flexibility in terms of discounting and better return in regard to royalty rates. Some folks have it broken down to exactly how much they'll charge for a number of words. <10,000 = $0.99; 10,000-40,000 = $1.99; >40,000-<70,000 = $2.99, etc. I'm not producing at a rate where I need to worry about that, but I understand the scheme.

What do you think? Do you have a scheme, or are you still winging the whole pricing thing?


  1. Well, I am still feeling the whole "pricing" thing out. I have heard established authors say that "free" should never be an option, others say $2.99 is always a good starting price. But I like the pricing by word count options. It at least gives some type of rhyme or reason to pricing methodology.

  2. I don't know that there's any "right" pricing scheme. I think that every author should evaluate their pricing on a regular basis. And, while I don't think you should make changes too frequently, I also don't think you should be afraid to make a change that makes sense.

  3. Free still works, but it isn't a guarantee. I helped out with a free book promotion last week, and the book is still doing well. Of course, I think it was doing well before the free run. I'm mixed if I would use it or not. I wonder what impact a sales blast would have if the author is the one gifting copies or giving away copies, asking the winners to buy the book on Amazon. Not everyone would of course, but with a certain budget, it would have a greater impact than free I think.

    I think the best advice/suggestion on price is to have a lot of books. That way you can have ones at all price points. If you write a series, the later books can be more expensive. Short stories, short novels, and long ones. Once a fan attaches to you, he or she might buy'em all.

  4. Andy, I wanted to take a moment to say that I always enjoy your posts. I hear the pricing question a lot. Yesterday in fact. I think price depends somewhat on the target audience as well. For instance, some people will never "buy" a book because of so many free ones out there. While others are looking for quality works and will easily pay 1 or 2 dollars more for it. And like you mentioned length plays in there. I think you will do fine with 3.99 or even 4.99 pricing. And in the long run, you may find a new portion of your audience that are not even looking at low priced books, for fear of what they may get.

    Like you said there are some really good books from independent author, and why should they be 2.99 when some lesser quality (in my opinion) traditionally published books are going for 9.99?

  5. I'm a new author. My first self-pubbed e-book is a non-fiction booklet with hints in elder care and it will be published soon. It will be followed by a series of fiction with strong romantic elements. Those books are going to be 80k words plus. I've decided never to go free ... my words are worth more than nothing! I may start at $2.99 for those, but once I've got my third book out in the series, all will be priced at $3.99 because I will be worth it!

  6. Price is a sales modifier. People will buy books regardless of the price you set. What it will do is modify how many people will buy the book compared to another price-point.

    Say there are 100 people that will buy the book. 2 will pay $10. 10 will pay over $5. 30 will pay $3.99. 40 will pay $2.99. And 18 will pay 99c.

    All of these people will pay the lower price if possible but not a higher. The trick is to price at the top of the curve. However the price of a book has little to do with if the book is selling or not. If a book doesn't sell, price isn't the problem. Covers, blurbs and samples are far more important.