There are nearly as many theories on how to price an ebook as there are authors of those same books. Here, we look at what ten authors and other publishing experts have to say, along with their reasoning.
Pricing advice for ebook authors
Be flexible and experiment
“Try to make your first book a full-length book, anywhere from 250-500 pages. Price it at $2.99. Give it a few weeks. If sales are sluggish, drop the price to $.99 for a few days and get some interest going, then bring the price back up to $2.99.” – author Alessandra Torre, in Price your Ebook for Success!
Depends on author experience
“New authors who are trying to find a readership can use the low price strategy to great success… If you have a series, you may want to lower the first book in the series to entice people to give you a try. Other books can then be priced higher because you are no longer a new author to those who have purchased your book… And if you’re an established author finding success with eBooks, think long and hard about changing your book pricing strategy. If you are seeing success at one price, think hard before trying to cash in on a higher price. You don’t want to kill the momentum of your sales, which may be a hard thing to restart if you do.” - Steven Spatz, in BookBaby’s free PDF eBook Publishing: The How-To Guide for Writers
Go free, or get in the $2.99-$3.99 range
“As you might expect, we found there’s a definite relation between price and unit sales volume. Lower prices generally sell more copies than higher prices. But not always…We set $10.00+ as equal to x. So, for example, you’ll see in the chart that $.99 is 3.9x. This means that a $.99 book will, on average, sell 3.9 times as many books as a book priced over $10.00. A $2.99 book sells about 4 times as many units. Note how books priced between $1.00 and $1.99 significantly under-perform books priced at $2.99 and $3.99. $1.99 appears to be a black hole. What price moves the most units? The answer is FREE.” – Mark Coker of Smashwords, in New Smashwords Survey Helps Authors Sell More eBooks
Make it a series
“I believe that authors building a platform should have this pricing model, based on five published eBooks – 1 eBook: FREE (make sure to have links to your other eBooks that cost money); 2 eBooks: $0.99; 2 eBooks: $2.99. My logic is simple. Get the readers hooked on your books with free and low pricing (and marketing) so they will purchase more of your books.” - Ron Knight in Pricing Your eBook at Up Authors
Specific to novelists/fiction authors
Charge more once you’re proven
“My theory for ebooks is this: $.99 for a novice novelist, and $2.99 for an established but emerging novelist. When you’re proven, then you should go to $9.99. For non-fiction, you should start at $4.99 to ensure that people take your book seriously. Then you should go to $9.99 when you’re proven, too.” - Guy Kawasaki, author of APE: Author, Publisher, Entrepreneur — How to Publish a Book
Don’t make it obvious you’re new or self-published
“I personally think about $5 per full-length novel is a fair price all around. It gives you far higher per-book earnings than traditionally published authors are receiving (even those whose ebooks are selling for $10+), it gives the readers a deal when compared to most traditionally published ebooks, and it’s often considered a fair price by those who feel that digital books should cost less than the dead-tree variety… Lastly, it separates you from the legions of indie authors charging $0.99, $1.99, and $2.99 for their novels… A lot of readers still walk warily around self-published books, so it can only help if you’re not giving obvious clues that your book was never vetted by a gatekeeper.” – Lindsay Buroker, in $0.99? $2.99? $9.99? My Answers to Ebook Pricing Questions
Low price = low quality?
“When you price your ebook too low, you will tend to cut corners — such as not investing in a good editor or going in for a cookie-cutter book cover. The low price may even affect your plot lines and the content of your book. And if you receive a negative review on Amazon, you’re subconsciously thinking, ‘Buddy, what more can you expect at 99 cents?!’” - Vikram Narayan, in Why Your Low Priced eBook Pricing Strategy is Wrong at BookBuzzr
$2.99 is the sweet spot
“So how do we decide how much to charge for our e-books? I’ve come to the conclusion that the answer is almost always $2.99. At $2.99, you earn 70% off most Kindle sales and you say my book is worth something. (For those of you who doubt that $2.99 is a high enough price to say that, you may be in the wrong business.) I’ve decided that going forward, $2.99 is going to be my default price for full-length books.” – author Catherine Ryan Howard, in How Much Should I Charge for My E-Book?
Specific to non-fiction/business titles
A high price conveys value
“As for my book, How to Engineer Your Layoff, I priced it at $38. $38 is a high enough price where I think value is reflected, and a low enough price where it doesn’t break a reader’s bank account. There are of course some who won’t buy the book because $38 is too high for them, even if they are about to make one of the biggest life decisions of their lives. I wish them good luck.” – Sam Dogen, in How To Price Your eBook And Maximize Your Potential
Price high if selling to professionals
“Your readers get value out of your book. If someone works for an hourly rate of say $100, reading my Retinafy ebook will save them perhaps a full week of research, trying to read through blog posts, compiling information, running tests, trying things cross-browser, and so on. That’s $4000 spent on a book that costs $29. That’s less than 1% of the money you lose if you’d research it all yourself (and I’m an expert on this topic, so it will probably take you more than a week, and you wouldn’t be sure if you found the right answers). Never forget that your target audience is professionals.” – author and script.aculo.us creator Thomas Fuchs, in 5 rules to sell thousands of copies of your ebook