Sorry, if you were looking for a definitive, comprehensive guide on how to price your ebooks I’m afraid you’ve come to the wrong place. Because, just like art and magick, there’s no one right way to do things – it’s about experimentation and finding a balance that works for you.
So, rather than me being some guru about to tell you how to do things, I’m actually looking for input from YOU, as readers first and foremost but also from other authors who’ve tried different prices for their work.
When I first started writing my novella Knight of the Cross I planned on selling it for 99p/ $0.99. I hoped the tiny price would draw in new readers who might not take a punt on my full-length, full price novels. Unfortunately, that really hasn’t happened. In my experience readers don’t really want to buy a novella from me. By pricing it so low I also only get 35% royalty from Amazon – that amounts to just 23p for each sale. Considering I paid to have the cover art made (twice, since I wanted to update it) and hired my usual editor to work with me on it, you can imagine how many thousands of copies I’d have to sell to make back my outlay, never mind actually make a profit.
But, despite the overwhelmingly positive reviews and that bargain low price, people just haven’t really bought KotC the way they’ve bought the other, “full-price”, books.
Today I was looking at the prices of other ebooks on Amazon and noticed that there’s loads of people selling similar stuff for £2+. Even books that are the same length or even shorter than KotC‘s 23,300 word count!
There is an argument that selling your work for 99p devalues it, and readers assume it must be crap or it wouldn’t be so cheap – and that results in few sales.
So, as a little experiment I’ve put the price of that particular novella up to $2.99 US/ £1.99 UK (also opening up Amazon’s 70% royalty rate). Or, if you buy the paperback you get the Kindle version for free, and, if you buy the Kindle version first you can add the Audible version to it for a much reduced rate. So there’s still value to be had.
My other novella, Friar Tuck and the Christmas Devil is still only 99p/99c – as that’s part of the Kindle Singles Programme I get 70% royalty on that one even at the lower price. Furthermore, new readers looking for a great way to try out my work can get the completely FREE Little John short story “The Escape” just for signing up to my Email List.
Perhaps my experiment will fail miserably and the low sales of KotC will drop even further with the higher price. Time will tell.
Let me know what you think! If you’ve already read Knight of the Cross, do you think it’s still fairly priced at £1.99? And if you haven’t read it yet, would you be much less likely to buy it for that price than 99p?
And other authors – what say you? Have you found the ideal way to price your ebooks? If so – please share it with us!
I’ve not published anything on Amazon so don’t know. It is a subject that interests me, but the answer that comes up time after time is it doesn’t matter how low you price your book – people want it for nothing and that is the market price. There are hundreds of thousands of people publishing and giving it away, so why pay anything seems to be a common response. I’d be intrigued to find out the outcome of your experiment. My guess is very few folk that would pay one dollar would reject a book because it’s two dollars. Then again, that goes against the market laws of supply and demand.
And yet there’s many people who think a book must be garbage if it’s permanently free so they won’t even bother downloading it!
I agree with your thinking on the pricing though – I’m hoping that anyone who wants to read the novella will be as happy to pay £2 as £1. It’s still – I believe – great value.
I have a feeling pricing isn’t the real issue – it’s the word count. People don’t seem as keen on novellas as a format, although, personally speaking, any I’ve read have been pretty good.
Thanks for commenting! 🙂
price is one factor, quality another, but you need to get people interested. That’s the real hard bit.
Yep, that’s where a great blurb and a striking cover comes in. 🙂
I set my price at £1.99 on publication of my novel (historical fiction) and have a steady trickle of sales. I have run two countdown deals with great success I have to say. People love a bargain and I think if you tell them it is reduced for a very brief time they will grab it. As a self-published author, I need to reap back some royalty for my work and that is why I have set my royalty at the 70% rate. However, not sure I will ever break even on my first book but hopefully over time I will build up a following that will grow. Certainly I tend to buy more of an author’s books if I enjoy the first one I read. If there is a magic formula I think it is: good writing = good reviews = more sales.
I am with you, Pam – I believe £1.99 is the best price for a new novel by a debut author. That’s what I set Wolf’s Head at, and it will stay at that point – I’ve sold over 30,000 copies of that now and I’m convinced the price has played a big part in that success. Countdown deals can be great if promoted, which is another reason I brought the KotC price up to £1.99. It allows me to do a Countdown deal which I couldn’t do when it was only 99p. Or, if I decide to do another free promo, it means people are saving double the amount. Bargain! 😉
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Those sales are amazing – you’re doing something right!
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A lot of luck has been involved I think. 😉
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or good writing!! Well done.
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I think 1.99 is a reasonable price. It’s small enough that I wouldn’t even consider it a cost but it still gives you a nicer cut than it would at 99p.
Cheers Greg, I’m hoping everyone thinks like that. It’s working so far, KotC is higher in the charts than its been for a while! 😃
Great points. I find pricing difficult, especially since my publisher controls that aspect of my books. Awesome cover, btw:)
Cheers Mark, that was the second cover. I like it much better than the first one I had made up. The pricing seems to be working – Knight of the Cross was higher in the Amazon charts this morning than it’s ever been, outwith first release and promotions!
Hello Steven A, this is Nathan A and I just wanted to thank you for the post and the understood trouble of pricing an e-book. My latest fantasy, eclectic novel is to come out the end of this month and pricing is a point of much debate….. Best wishes on your writing success and pricing progress! Keep writing.
Cheers Nathan! Yes, it’s a hard one. I put the price of one novella up and it jumped up the charts and has continued to stay up there ever since. So I did the same with the other novella and it went the other way, down! But then again, the second one is a Christmas tale and it’s summer so…