With the explosion of indie publishing, there’s a lot of discussion about the proper way to price a self-published book. We’ve seen the success of authors who’ve priced their books at the magical $0.99 point – selling lots of copies but minimizing their profits per copy. Higher priced books now don’t attract as much attention when there’s so much out there to read for cheap or for free.
What’s the magic number? I’ve heard it’s $2.99. An indie pubbed book priced higher than that may get off to a slow start. But after putting months of work into a novel, shelling out money for professional editing, cover art and maybe even professional formatting, not to mention some promo, shouldn’t an author expect to make a couple of bucks per copy?
For me the toss up is quantity of readers versus quantity of money. Do I want $3.00 from each person who buys my book? Suppose that amounts to 10 – then I get $30.00. But if I can sell 300 copies at $0.99, I make $105.00. Sure, selling 300 copies at $3.00 profit each is much, much nicer, but is it possible when a thrifty reader can pick up so many books priced under the $4.25 retail you’d need to make a $3.00-ish profit per book?
Do I want 300 readers or $300? I’m not sure I can have both.
Some authors have established price points for themselves, setting novellas at $0.99, mid-length novels at $2.99 and full length novels at $3.99 or $4.99. Depending on the author’s popularity, those prices can work for some. For others it seems to be a daily struggle between discounts, coupons, and minute price adjustments designed to maximize attention to their product while keeping profits rolling in.
How do we decide what our books are really worth?
Speaking as a reader, I like cheap books. The economy is crappy, and being able to get my reading fix for a few dollars as opposed to $10 or $20 is awesome. I’m buying more books because they’re less expensive, I’m trying new authors because it’s an easy decision to spend a dollar, much harder to justify $7.99 for a mass market paperback, $12.99 for a trade or double that for a hardcover [if it’s on sale]. I generally don’t even look at ebooks that cost more than $9.99.
What do you think? Are authors selling themselves short by pricing at $0.99? Or are we finally equalizing the playing field? Will all these bargain-priced books flood the market with mediocre work, or encourage readers to buy more books? What’s your magic price? If an ebook costs more than $2.99 these days, do you feel it’s overpriced? Should there be a standard pricing defined by length, so you can’t get a full length novel for the same price as a novella or a 3000 word short story?