Wednesday, August 8, 2012

How Much Are You Worth?

Good Morning.

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....


Laura Pauling said...

Very wise and that's the conclusion i've come to. we can only charge what the market will pay and thankfully we can see that right away in our sales report!

Linda G. said...

Good thoughts! FWIW, I think you've chosen the best balance of price points.

Anne Gallagher said...

Laura -- Yes, what the market will pay. Especially for self-pubbers. When we're rich and famous, then it's a whole other story. (no pun intended.)

Linda -- Thanks. I think it's fair.

Stina Lindenblatt said...

It also depends on who your market it. I write YA, and teens are more likely to buy a $2.99 book than they are a $6.99 one. Entangled Publishing (medium sized publisher) prices their YA novels (I haven't checked what their adult novels are priced at) for around $5, and the novellas around $2.

Anne Gallagher said...

Stina -- Yeah, publishers have their own price points. Which is why I think the self-pubbers are all over the map when it comes to pricing. They want to charge like the big name authors but they can't because they don't have big names yet. Well, most of us don't anyway. It's just about writing the next book and the next, and garnering that fan base. Then anything is possible.

Stacy McKitrick said...

If I went the self-pub route, I would most likely offer the first book at $2.99. Like you, I feel my work is worth something. I have a hard time understanding how people get excited when they offer their book for free. A lot of people do not read the freebies. I want READERS.


Enjoyed the comments and especially appreciated your take on pricing ebooks.
I'm still trying to come up with a price for my collection of short stories. It's shorter than my novel but so much work went into the stories that I'm thinking of putting the price at 2.99, same as my first novel.
Any thoughts on this Anne. I would like to hear from you. Here or on my blog.
August has been slow for my novel. July was slow too.
My free days bring me sales and that is why I do them.
When I look at where I was a year or two ago, what I am doing now is great progress. Thanks to epubbing.
Here's to our success at this!!! Barb

Anonymous said...

I think ebooks should max out around $4.99. Anything more is probably too much. The profit on this is pretty good too.

Em-Musing said...

This whole e-pricing is conflicting for me. I'm not yet in the game, but hopefully I will be soon. Will pay more...attention.

Johanna Garth said...

I think we all question this, even the big 6!

My publisher pushed my ebook price to 4.99 because they felt like there was too big of a gap between the original ebook pricing of 2.99 and the cost of the physical book at 14.99.

J. B. Chicoine said...

Okay, here's a lame admission--UNCHARTED is coming out in less than 2 months and I have no idea how much the e-books will be priced at. Or the hard-copy, for that matter...

~Sia McKye~ said...

You make some valid points. Hubs has been considering booking a couple of his stories up as a e-book. Asked me what I thought and I said, $2.99 and have a free weekend in there somewhere.

You're right, there are quite a few established mass market authors who have a solid readerbase that can charge more and they will be bought. It's all about building the readership. I have a friend who does both and she just released a shorter rock series and was blown away by selling 3000 before the month was out. Opened her eyes wide and that one is $2.99.

I'm glad to see you're giving yourself a raise. Your writing deserves it!


Wendy Ramer, Author said...

Interesting. I priced a novella at 99cents with that same loss leader mentality but got nowhere. Have just realeased a novel priced at 5.99 because it seems a low end of the standard novel price, and I'm thinking I sent the message that my book wasn't worth much.

By the way, thanks for stopping by my blog the other day :-)

Donna Hosie said...

I won't pay more than $5 for an ebook - I just won't. I know an author who recently placed her self-published ebook for sale at an astonishing $8. I will be amazed if she sells a single copy.

I priced my debut at $2.99. I'm happy with that. The sequel will be a little higher, but I will counteract that by offering the first book as a free download for the month before the sequel is released.

I agree 100% that we should not devalue ourselves. Like you, I take my writing seriously and I have spent thousands of man hours on it. I engage a professional designer and I have my novels beta read and then line edited before I even get to the uploading stage.

Jennifer Shirk said...

Honestly, I won't buy an ebook from a bestselling author for $6.99or higher. I'm cheap.

I think Amazon will price my ebooks for $6.99 or maybe even $7.99 and I'm not happy about that, but I have no control. :(

For me, it's got to be $5.99 and under for me to buy.
$2.99 is a total no brainer. That's a VERY reasonable price.

Bossy Betty said...

Great thoughts. I am not an e-book consumer, but will be in the future and maybe, just maybe when I grow up I will publish something too!

Susan Flett Swiderski said...

Sounds to me like you've got this all figured out. (Not that I'm surprised.) There's a funny thing about human nature. Do you ever frequent flea markets? If a vendor has stuff for FREE, most shoppers will pass it by and dismiss it as "junk." BUT, if that same vendor SELLS that same stuff for a buck, buyers not only buy it, but get excited about the great deal they're getting. Go figure. But bottom line, you shouldn't underprice your work. Nor overprice it. Some e-books are only a buck or two less than the paper copies. That doesn't make good financial sense to me.

Francine Howarth: UK said...


Unfortunately, as far as books go at Amazon, we as writers have become a bit like houses up for sale. Our books are worth what someone is willing to pay for them. That is, if they can find them or happen to come across them. ;)


Talli Roland said...

Such a difficult issue! For me right now, my primary aim is to get new readers and build my base. So I price my books cheaply - which isn't to say I may not raise the price eventually.

Anne Gallagher said...

Thanks everyone for all your great comments.

I've been running from one house to the other, time gets away from me, and I forget I have a blog post up.

I really do appreciate you showing up and your opinion on these issues.

Bish Denham said...

I think $2.99 is fair too. And, you deserve the raise!

Al said...

My Veiled in Shadows is $2.99 on kindle. ($14.99 for paperback).
I sell next to none of either. But I spend zero time on promotion.

Elliot Grace said...

...I find it interesting how a couple of bucks can drastically change one's sales, which of course shows how competitive the market has become.

We've lowered the price on my novel, and have since garnered interest. The next one, a soon to be released shorty, will most likely debut at .99, in hopes of luring in the reading populace.

Great post, Anne ;)

Nicki Elson said...

I technically don't have any control over pricing because I'm signed w/ a publisher BUT it's an open-minded publisher that listens to what its authors want, so I've gotten to play with pricing. The Kindle norm is $6.99 which seems to be high for unknown authors. I asked for a sale last fall & got it, but they went all the way down to 99cents, and at first that was exciting, but honestly, after about a week I totally felt cheap & dirty and was very happy when the price went back up. The latest is a $2.99 price that was supposed to be for one month, but it looks like its going to stick around longer, and that feels right to me. Sales haven't exactly exploded in response, but they've picked up, and I'm happy to just tread water with this book book until the next one comes out.