Let’s talk about this ongoing game of e-book pricing. It can be tricky. Whether you’re new to the scene or you’ve been publishing for a while, pricing your book is not easy especially when you’re a self-published author. If people have never heard of you, chances are they’re not going to spend $15 on work they’re not sure they’re going to like. However, making your book free or setting it at a very low price undermines your work. Honestly, as a reader, when I see something for $0.99 or for free, I think, “Well this person has no faith in their writing and it’s probably of poor quality.”
This may not always be the case. Some people set a book’s price for free to get reviews. Some make their books cheap as part of an Amazon Promotional Deal like a Free Book Promo or the Amazon Kindle Countdown Deal.
If you are self-published and you haven’t found a good price point yet I suggest mixing it up. Keep length in mind. I’m not going to sell a short story for $5. I tend to keep my short stories at $0.99. This way if someone wants to sample my work, all they have to do is pay a dollar. If it isn’t for them or they think my writing sucks then they won’t be terribly upset over spending $0.99.
I also keep my short stories enrolled in the exclusive Amazon Kindle program called KDP Select. This is because with short stories that only make $0.35 per sale at a $0.99 markup aren’t going to bring in major money so I don’t see the value of putting them on other platforms. I’m still learning and scouting the field myself in this ever-changing economy. A few years from now, I may decide else wise.
A Word on Exclusivity
As far as exclusivity goes, I think it’s important to not put all of your eggs in one basket. If you only sell your books through Amazon Kindle and suddenly the shit hits the fan with Amazon, then where does that leave you? For my longer works (novellas and novels)- I make them available through other venues.
My debut novel, In Articulo Mortis (Mortis Volume 1), will be available in 2018 across all platforms!
You will find tons of blogs and forums and articles online with other authors giving you suggestions on how to price your book. Keep in mind that just like this post, they are merely suggestions. Keep an open mind, try new things and mess around with the prices to see what works best for you. If you’re self-published, you have the freedom to change the price at will. I recommend giving your price points at least six months of sales before you change them.
My Pricing Guidelines
My short stories range from 2,500-10,000 words. Because they are so small, I always set the price point at $0.99. In my opinion, making them free is insulting. While they may be small stories, they still took time and effort to create. You’ll come across many people who are only interested in your work when they can get it for free. Those are called shitty people. Some of them are likely to rub the “starving artist” stereotype in your face. To them, a writer is either a millionaire who hits it big or someone who pinches pennies and struggles. Heaven forbid there be a realistic middle ground.
You’d be surprised at the number of people who don’t know what a novella is. Mine range from 15,000-40,000 words. I keep the price point for these at $2.99. This is the lowest price point at which you can receive a 70% royalty on Amazon. I also don’t keep these exclusive to Amazon. My novellas are additionally published through Smashwords and CreateSpace Distributors. This way they are available to other markets across the world. Amazon is only popular in certain countries like America and Canada. Being exclusive to Amazon can limit your audience. Keep that in mind.
Some of you may think, “$2.99! Gosh, that seems really low.” I’m still a very new author as I’ve only been publishing for two years.
For novels, I can’t see myself going over $4.99, at least not for the digital versions. I’d suggest keeping novels under $5 when first starting. People don’t know you and they’re not going to spend $20 if they don’t know who you are and if they’re going to like you. With all of the competition out there, it’s important to keep your price reasonable but don’t underestimate your worth.
Another Note on Free Stuff
So many people in this day and age expect something for free.
Writing is a job.
If you want to make money off of it, you’re going to have to get used to asking people to pay for your product. It’s a common annoyance amongst artists of all types when people ask if they can have their work for free. The same thing goes for painters and musicians. Art requires dedication, patience, time and, believe it or not, skill.
Creative writing is not easy- if it were, everyone would do it. While it may seem like everyone is, everyone’s not. I know a lot of people online who are writers but I don’t know hardly anyone in real life who is a writer. Maybe two people off of the top of my head. You know why this is? Because it’s not easy.
Some people fall into this “get rich quick” fantasy but that’s not the writer’s life. Most experienced writers will tell you that writing is a long, solitary road. Yes, you can hit it right. Yes, you can make a living from it. Please don’t mistake this post as some sort of effort to discourage you from writing. If you feel like you have something to deliver, please deliver it. Don’t let anyone stop you. But at the same time, don’t let anyone undermine your work. Writing is hard.
In short, play around with your prices. Be fair, but don’t be unfair to yourself. You worked hard on this. You probably paid for someone to make the cover art and edit your work and so if anything charge at least $0.99. Good luck to all of you out there! I wish you all the best. Happy writing.
Photo Art: © Alain Lacroix | Dreamstime.com
Regina Bethory is a fiction author. She graduated from Christopher Newport University with a Bachelor’s in Directing and Play Writing and from Newport News Shipbuilding’s Apprentice School as a Test Electrician. She also has a degree in Funeral Services. As an avid minimalist and traveler, she enjoys spending her time learning new things, seeking new experiences and de-cluttering. When she is not writing, she can often be found in comic book stores and early morning matinees.