How Much Should an Ebook Cost? A Tale From Two Perspectives

You’re a writer. You worked for months, possibly years, to bring your creative dream to fruition. The book’s good, damn good. At least you think so. Now you’re ready to upload it to Kindle. Of course, you want to be payed a fair price for all of your hard work. Perhaps you also have dreams of escaping your soul sucking day job and becoming a professional writer. You earn higher royalties on Amazon if you price your book between $2.99 and $8.99. Many traditional publishers charge the same price for their ebooks as a printed copy.

So, how should you price your book?

You’re a reader. You read traditionally published authors and you’re willing to pay a premium for their books because you know the author and you’ve read the reviews of their latest book in major magazines and newspapers.

But you also like to check out new and up-and-coming writers who publish their books without benefit of an agent or editor. There are so many self-published books out there (500,000 released every year). How do you even choose? You’ve read the reviews, but you know from past experience that they often can’t be trusted. More than likely, the book will stink and you won’t read past the first few chapters.

So, how much would you pay for the book?

Being a self-published author is tough. It all comes down to supply and demand. In a over-saturated market, it’s difficult to get noticed, let alone make money. If books were widgets, we’d be face with a market where way more were being made than people to buy them, and no way to know if the widget you chose is a hand crafted, made-in-America product or a cheap Chinese knock-off. As I mentioned in a previous post, an author’s only choice is to price the book at $.99 (or in some cases free), market the hell out of it, and hope for the best.

I’d be interested in the comments and experiences of other authors.

Good luck and best wishes,

Kelee

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5 thoughts on “How Much Should an Ebook Cost? A Tale From Two Perspectives

  1. As a reader I really wouldn’t pay much for an ebook if I pay for it at all. I don’t know. They feel disrespectful to writing and literature. Although, I do get the point of your post.

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  2. This is a good question! It’s also complicated because there are just so many variables in place! But from my own experience, I’ve been self publishing my books since 2013, and I’m not a “household name” or a bestselling author, and I know the chances are pretty good that I never will be going by official statistics (and as you’d mentioned, the over saturated market). This brings up the notion that though book publishing has been revolutionized by self publishing platforms in the past handful of years, if authors want to get anywhere significant in the industry, their best bet is to rely on more traditional methods of publishing.

    In any case, about the pricing thing, when I first published Blue Moon, I’d thought about pricing it at .99 cents if only because I was a new author and if anyone was going to buy my book, they would be taking a gamble on a completely unknown writer. But I also know several readers look at .99 cent ebooks as being those that are written in 15 minutes with no more thought put into them than “I can sell this in mass because it’s so cheap and make a profit off of it”. So at most, a reader will believe they’d only get a short thrill out of it, toss it aside, and forget about it later, which may cause them to skip over it altogether no matter how cheap it is.

    So I don’t think pricing a book more cheaply is necessarily a good sales pitch. I ended up setting Blue Moon to $2.99 because I felt that I’d put a substantial amount of work into both the story and the cover to make it a memorable read, and the lower price also reflected the fact that I was a newcomer to the publishing scene. Then I did the same thing for Light of Dawn. But by the time I published my third and fourth books, I raised the price a few bucks because I was better established as an author.

    So at the end of the day, I think pricing is about as solid an indicator of the type of book you’re getting as a review on it would be. Everyone’s opinions are different, and there’s no true reason to think that, just because a reviewer liked it, a reader will as well, and vice versa. Price is just a single part of the “overall experience” which I believe includes presentation of the book (covers, promos,etc.), reviews, author bio’s, synopsis, and if the reader thinks all of that added together is worth the cost being asked.

    Just my quick two cents anyway 🙂

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    • Yes, I did oversimplify. I’m glad you pointed that out. I agree that pricing your book at $.99 is going to make some, maybe most readers label it as self-published and therefore of low quality. But if I were thinking of buying a book by an author I’d never heard of, I’d be more likely to take a chance if it were $.99. I would at least read the first few chapters to see if it was any good. Personally, I have a list price of $2.99 and offer periodic $.99 sales. It works for the big box stores! But as you say, it’s much easier to get somewhere in the industry if you can get traditionally published. If I buy a traditionally published book, I’ll at least know it was vetted by an agent and an editor.

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