On ebook pricing: Vote in my new poll

Even though on the surface it seems like an easy decision, the pricing of ebooks can be tricky for an indie author.  Too low, and your quality book can be dragged into the mire of trunk novels and the other dreck that should never see the light of day.  Too high, and you risk putting off potential readers who have never read your work.  I’ve blogged about this topic before, when I was new to the epublishing revolution.  My conclusions were that you had to stay between $.99 & $2.99.  After more than a year on my indie journey, I still don’t know what the right price is for my books.  Many indie authors (Konrath, Crouch, Dean Wesley Smith, David Wisehart, etc), are experimenting with pricing anywhere from $3.99 to $7.99.  Wisehart is selling a ton of copies at $7.99. 

I figure, if I lose a few sales over the course of the month, I’ll probably make up for it in Amazon borrows.  What is an indie writer to do?

That’s where the readers of this blog come in handy.  I need as much feedback as possible on what is appropriate to charge for an ebook.  I’m seriously considering changing the price of my novels to $3.99 or even $4.99.

Please vote on this poll, and if you’d be so kind, leave a comment or three.  If you can share this post with other like-minded people, perhaps I can get a consensus on my dilemma.

 

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About glenkrisch

Writer, freelance editor, runner, family man, wanna-be farmer, neo-luddite
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20 Responses to On ebook pricing: Vote in my new poll

  1. I tend to download cheaper or freebie books off of authors I have never heard of…. if i find them good (or brilliant) then I am happy to pay more…. I just have to spread my reading of them out!!
    I would be interested to see if you could have a bidding process?? the more ppl want the book the price changes??
    i recently was given a freebie but loved it so much that I felt obliged to “fund” more books from the author by paying for it when it was published….

    • glenkrisch says:

      Vix,
      Interesting that you mention bidding. I guess that would be similar in some ways to Smashwords “buyer determined pricing.” I don’t know of any author who uses this option because that option doesn’t allow for full distribution.
      Along the same lines, I’ve considered looking into Kickstarter to fund print editions of my books. The higher the contribution from the reader, the higher their reward. That is somewhat like a bidding process.

      hmm… time to think some more.

  2. Spot says:

    I think that pricing should depend upon the length of the book. Novel length books, anthologies and some collections should be priced between 2.99 and 3.99. Short stories should only be 99 cents. And that leaves 1.99 for novellas and shorter collections. At AKP, the majority of our anthologies and novels are over 80,000 words so we go with the 3.99 price point. But we have a novella coming out this month that will be either .99 or 1.99. I hope that helps!

    I think if you are an author with a big following, you can afford to put them out at a cheaper price because you know you’re going to sell enough to make bank. But until we have that kind of following- we have to price them so that we can still pay the bills.

    Stacey

    • glenkrisch says:

      Hi Stacey,
      You mention that an author with a big following should have lower prices. I just bought MINE by Robert McCammon, and I paid $9.99. His books seem to sell well at that price. Perhaps there’s a difference between a “big following” and an iconic author like McCammon?

    • Lisa Lane says:

      I agree that pricing should reflect the length of the book. I think short stories should be .99, novellas $1.99, 50,000-word short novels between $2.99 and $3.99, and 60,000+ word-novels $4.99-$5.99 relative to book length. Anything over $5.99 is overpriced in my opinion, given the .05 publishing price.

  3. For a writer with whom I’m not familiar, my price point is a lot lower than it is for a writer whose work I know. I’m also more likely to be willing to pay a higher price for a book I know I will use again and again–a reference or writing craft book for example– than for a novel.

    • glenkrisch says:

      Hi Mary Ann: So if you’re not familiar with an author, how much do reviews sway you? Would you take a chance, at say, $3.99 on an author unknown to you if the reviews are stellar?

  4. I started my book, Frankenstein’s Daemon, at $3.99 based on a review of similar books. That approach was recommended by my book designer. As part of a “Nightmare before Christmas” special I dropped the price on Kindle and Nook to .99. It’s still at that price – My January is turning out to be a better month than either November or December, but still not as good as October when I launched. Most of my fellow writers say keep it at .99 until people know who you are. A few books on e-book sales recommend the same tactic.

  5. I’ve only published one novel without a publisher. I settled on a $2.99 price. There do seem to be an awful lot of .99 cent and free novels out there, which is a shame.

    • glenkrisch says:

      Hi JRS,
      Yeah, I think Amazon wanted to control the amount of books listed at $.99 so they introduced the lower royalty. It just shows how many authors want to connect with readers, no matter if they’re practically giving their work away. $2.99 seems like a good price because, if I’m not mistaken, that’s roughly the same profit money-wise as a mass market unit sale.

      • In fact, Glen, an author with a Big Six paperback deal is more likely to get a 4% to 8% royalty on cover, so 32c to 64c roughly, less the 15% to the agent, she’ll see 27 to 54c per sale. A self-publishing author pricing eBooks at $2.99 on Amazon will net roughly $2 per book, or her take from 3 to 6 paper copies depending on the royalty.

        A recent guest poster on Joe Konrath’s blog reported on a price _raising_ experiment, where her ebook sales grew considerably as she upped the price. I think she finally settled on $5.99. Like Paul, below, I don’t like to see authors undervaluing their work. If you write and present your work professionally, a $4.99 or $5.99 price tag is not out of line. If your book looks and reads like traditionally-published books in its genre, why not aim even higher?

      • glenkrisch says:

        I’ve tried increasing my prices, but $2.99 seems to be the sweet spot for my readers. I think it comes down to genre. For some reason, horror readers are reluctant to spend more than $2.99. I think science fiction, fantasy and historical fiction readers might be more accepting.

  6. Tim Baer says:

    I won’t go over $1.99 on an unknown Indie author. Now, once I’ve read their stuff (as in they’ve tossed out a freebie, they write well, and it’s hooked me) I’ll be willing to go as high as $5.99. To go any higher than that, I have to really want the book bad. Normally I prefer to stay in the $1.99 to $2.99 range–Indie, or pro written (by pro, i mean with one of the Name publishing houses, not that Indie authors are any less professional than a writer who published with, say Baen).

    As for my own books, my first one has been dropped down to $.99. My new one is at $1.99, and I have a freebie short story out. When I trot out my next book (which should be at the very least novella length–more likely novel length) I will drop my 2nd book down to $.99, and the 3rd will again be $1.99.

    If I suddenly find a surge in my popularity, I might bump things up a dollar each. I do not foresee pricing my works over $2.99–but, hey–I am a capitalist. I might become a greedy capitalist. =D

    • glenkrisch says:

      Hi Tim,
      I recently bought a couple of ebooks for $9.99. That is extremely rare for me, but they are both for group reads on Goodreads.
      During the post-Christmas blitz of freebies, I used KDP Select to generate 6200+ downloads. I’ve seen a surge in reviews since the blitz, and they continue my trend of high ratings. I figure after awhile, the strong reviews justify the slightly higher price.

  7. I’ll pay whatever the author is asking IF the book snags my interest and IF it’s during the time of month that I allow myself to spend money on books. 🙂 Which is usually after payday!

    • glenkrisch says:

      Too funny, April! On the one hand, ebooks are cheaper. On the other, the one-click option threatens to get me in trouble with my wife! Also, when I used to bring home armloads of books from a bookstore, it was kinda hard to hide them. Now, with my Kindle… it’s just too easy to hide my purchases!

  8. Paul D. Dail says:

    Being a new Kindle owner, I voted “$5.99 if it really interested me,” but on a teacher salary, it would REALLY have to interest me.

    But I’m loving these responses. I’ve said it in other venues (maybe even here), but I think we need to put an end to this constant devaluing of our craft just to compete for .99 scraps. While I’m willing to put my book on sale for .99, I’m unwilling to charge less than 2.99. I’d like to think that the time (and hopefully a little of the talent) that I’ve put into my first book merits that price.

    And as to the possibility of charging above 2.99? I say go for it, brother. God speed. Be a pioneer in re-raising the bar for what a consumer should pay for quality. Just because it’s easy for a consumer to get doesn’t necessarily make it easy for an artist to create.

    Paul D. Dail
    http://www.pauldail.com- A horror writer’s not necessarily horrific blog

    • glenkrisch says:

      I wonder how David Wisehart sells so many copies at $7.99. Perhaps it’s the genre–high fantasy?
      Experimenting is so important as an indie. You might experiment at $.99 and sell a million copies. Your work might resonate with more readers at $5.99. Who knows? I’m definitely leaning toward going to $3.99, but I will wait for more feedback before changing my price. And then, being an indie and in total control of my work, I can always change it right back again.

  9. TheSFReader says:

    For a completely unknown author, regardless of size, $3 is my upper limit.
    For an author where I find “good” internet interaction (unknown but “friendly” on social networks or forums), I’ll go up to $5
    For non-unknown authors, (and depending on previous read books), I can go up to $10
    For my “cherished” authors, above $10 is still accessible.

    • glenkrisch says:

      SFReader,
      What makes an author “known”? Is it hearing about the author across the internet, seeing favorable reviews from respected bloggers, word of mouth?
      I have a small but dedicated group of readers who will read anything I publish. I don’t know these people, and they are from all over the world. I wonder what makes a reader decide to take a chance on a relative unknown such as myself? What is the tipping point that nudges a reader to buy from an unknown? Don’t mind me; I’m just thinking out loud (or would that be typing out loud?).

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