Today I want to discuss e-book pricing. While I was away, I read some "big name author" opinions on the subject, and I have a few of my own I'd like to share. Not because I'm a "big" author, but I think they're valid points and if you're heading into the e-publishing sphere, you might want to take some of this into consideration.
As a whole, I think it depends on what kind of story you've written. For my short stories, I priced them at .99cents. I thought that was fair. I tried $1.29 for one of them for two weeks and I didn't sell one copy. As soon as I dropped my price back to .99, they sold.
(Now, some authors price their shorts at $1.99, their novellas at $2.99, novels at $6.99. Which might work for them, but it doesn't work for me. These are mostly big name authors who've made their mark in the self-publishing arena and can do whatever they want.)
In my Regency series, my novellas and short stories are .99 cents. My novels, I started off at $2.99, and then I raised the price to $3.49. I'm selling the exact same amount from when they were .50cents cheaper. It's my opinion, if people like what they see in the cover copy and the "inside peek" they'll buy it no matter what the price. Especially if you've found a fan base.
Now, some "insiders" say to price your first book cheaply in the beginning to gain an audience and use it as a "loss leader." (We discussed this last week on the Is Free the New Black post.) If you're writing a series, and don't write short stories, this can work for you. .99 is an enticement to get readers to stick around for the rest of the series especially if the first book is well-written. When the second book comes out, the price you decide upon is up to you.
And here's the crux of it. How much do you think your book is worth? Only you can determine this. I don't know about you, but I've worked long and hard on my books, crafting them, revising, rewriting, editing, formatting, all the stuff we do as writers on our way to publication. How long did it take me to write the book? God only knows. If I broke it down into actual man hours, it seems like a million. Do I really want to charge .99cents for something that took me almost a year to write? I feel I'm worth more than that.
In today's competitive market (strictly e-books here) you want your book read, you want your readers to feel satisfied they didn't waste their hard earned money on something they hated. (Which in that case, they'll ask for a refund.) I could have charged $6.99 for my novels like the big name authors do. But I'm not a big name author. I also want to be competitive. I also want to make some money for all my hard work, which is why I chose to start out at $2.99, the lowest price point to garner 70% royalties.
Now some of my readers in their reviews were disappointed to find that what they bought for .99 wasn't a novel. But they wouldn't pay $2.99 for one. So that either means, they're cheap, used to Free, or on a limited budget. Which in today's economy is fair to say. However, if I put my novels at .99 then that devalues ME as an author. I work hard on my books, have great covers, edit them, re-edit them, and make sure they're free of typo's and all the other junk. I feel I'm distributing a pretty good product.
I'd love to sell my novels for $6.99. Why don't I? Because I'm still new at this. I feel the more I write, the better I get, and possibly someday, after I've sold 50,000 copies, I just might. But for now, raising the price .50 cents is my way of giving myself a raise and telling consumers I value what I do. And so should they.
My books aren't crap. I've put probably a thousand man-hours into research. I've spent years rewriting and revising. I think I know what I'm doing, and with help from my critters and betas, I put out what I think is a damned fine book. Of course, there are better writers than me, I know that. But you know what, I've read some stuff that's come out of New York and I wouldn't waste my hard-earned money on it. You get what you pay for. And I think $2.99 is a pretty fair price. It's less than a cup of coffee sometimes.
So that's that. My thoughts on E-Book Pricing.
Any questions, comments, thoughts, ideas, personal experience you want to share....