This is a period of real growth for indie authors, with expected ebook sales rising to $30Bn in the U.S. through 2020.
But indie and hybrid authors will have to be careful when it comes to pricing. We are up against some very capable players.
Traditional publishers are pricing their front lists (recently published ebooks) high to stop Amazon becoming their number one channel and the dominant market player. But publishers are also pricing their back lists (books they published in previous years, mostly by well know authors) low, and dominating some of the online channels, to help them push less knowledgeable indies out.
Indies are now competing not only with current titles but also with those traditionally published back lists. Traditional publishers are also using Amazon daily-deals emails, where ebooks are sold for $1.99 or 99c, and BookBub, the largest email special offers service globally, to fill the reading public’s Kindle devices with books from well know authors. The days of indies doing well with high ebook prices are gone.
Here are our recommendations on how you should price your Kindle/ebook to fight back:
We recommend this only if you have a closely linked series, and book number one can be priced at free to get readers started on your series. The only other exception is for review purposes.
We recommend this ebook price point only if you are using email and/or social media promotion services, from sites such as BookBub and BooksGoSocial, or if you want to build a readership for a series or future books. This price can also be used for a short period to get your book onto a best seller list and then you can move the price up. When deciding a price do not consider the effort put in to write and produce it, consider what total earnings you want in the long term.
99c can also be used during a launch period, for a relaunch with a new cover, or for when you add a new book to your series. How long you stay at 99c will depend on total sales and whether you are continuing any email or social media paid promotion periods. It will also depend on if you have a new title coming out in the near future and what level of buzz you already have for the title. If there’s a lot of media attention on the title your period at 99c may only be a day or two after launch.
Moving pricing up and down is called “price pulsing.”
This price may be appropriate for other books in a series if the first book in the series is 99c to get people reading through into the next book.
You may wish to test higher price points occasionally, falling back to $2.99 if sales are affected enough to reduce total income.
$3.99 or $4.99
If you are writing fictions and are using Amazon ads we suggest you price initially at $3.99 and then after a one month period move the price up to $4.99 and assess your total income from sales and reads if you are in Select over the two months.
Because of the increasing cost of clicks on Amazon and on Facebook, if you are using paid ads on these sites, it is a good call to increase your ebook price to these levels to ensure you are making a profit.
You may wish to test even higher price points occasionally, falling back if sales are affected enough to reduce total income. BooksGoSocial provides a support service for people who want to do Amazon ads or Facebook ads, including guidance on optimum pricing for ebooks.
See details on our Amazon ads service here and email us – email@example.com – with details on your book if you want us to manage your Facebook ads. You can also complete the chat questionnaire on the right.
Testing Your Pricing
Pricing is no longer fixed in stone. As retailers are allowed to run sales you are also allowed to drop your price for promotions and to put it up afterward as well. Testing the best ebook prices to earn you the highest income is a good idea. You could adjust your prices each week or month, based on income in the previous period, not on units sold. Having special offers during the Summer and in January are the minimum price changes we recommend.
You may not have control on your Kindle/ebook pricing, in which case you may be the victim of outdated thinking, where your publisher is seeking to protect sales of paper or isn’t aware of where the industry has moved to. Traditional publishers are locked in a slow-motion war with Amazon for the future of publishing. Your ebook sales may be collateral damage in pursuit of your publisher’s higher objective, protecting the paper publishing industry.
Some smaller publisher also insist that Kindle ebook prices should remain high. When your ebook sales remain low you might ask them for an opportunity to test our pricing suggestions above.
Non-fiction also usually attracts a higher price too. We recommend testing at $6.99, $7.99 and $8.99. The length of your book will also impact your pricing as will the real value provided.
If you are in KDP you will still have to choose the 30% royalties option on Amazon to price below $2.99.
Your print book pricing should be set so that you make a small profit on each copy.
Pricing used to be a decision of specialist analysts at traditional publishers. They knew when to run a front of store discount, when to offer two-for-one deals, and what price to remainder your books at. The headline price you see in an online bookstore is only one price point in the life of a book. You can change your pricing regularly, just as book stores do.
If you have experience of ebook pricing and would like to add anything please comment below. The decision on whether to price your ebook low, for email and social media marketing or higher for Amazon ads depends on the type of promotion you do.
For details of our book promotion services, with a money back guarantee, click here.
Lawrence…do you I would benefit if I lowered the price of my book (Three Quick Steps…Amazon) to $0.99 for while? Bob
Robert, yes! Match the period with a paid promotion to see what happens. Testing pricing changes is a good idea.
Kindle Select in the UK allows you to publish at 99p/99c permanently. I’m doing it. I mean, it’s been that way for weeks.
I recently changed the price of my book to $0.99. No action yet. Great exposure on LOB tweeter program for me. Lots of retweets…good feedback. No sales as of yet from the T program…any feel for what you would expect? Thanks Bob
Bob, other things need to be right to make a good price work. For instance, the cover, reviews, description and themes of the book can all impact sales.
All the factors have to work together.
Promotion and a low price are not a magic wand that can sell anything.
Fore another take on the pricing issue, and why supply and demand must be considered, have a look at this post: https://medium.com/@edrenehan/the-authors-guild-a-mouse-roaring-c09129172300#.900treelg
I tried 3 promotions on kdp and 1 in Goodreads…no help. Your opinion of cover, Amazon and website would be most welcome…Bob
Hi Laurence…the link is http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00NMRQJ12…put in your browser. Thanks…look forward to your comments. Also my website is 3quicksteps.net
I published my first book a little over a half a year ago at 3.99. At my list price I always sell a hand full per week. However every time I have a .99 day or countdown days I usually sell 600 a day
Thank you Jaye. That’s an eye-opener
Jays C 600/day is very good. But of course the royalty on 600 at 99c (35% royalty rate) is about $21. That equates to about 10 books at $3.99 (70% royalty rate). However, reaching more readers may be your priority.
600 at .99c – $564 x 35% = $207, perhaps less a few dollars for weight.
I think you missed a decimal point!
You’re right! I did the calculation in my head. My bad. So: the royalty on 600 books at 99c = the royalty on 74 books at $3.99.
I suggest: start with 3.99 when the book is new. Offer 4 day specials at .99 and return to original price. I would only offer short fiction or novella as free as a “taste” of an author’s work. It takes me a year to write a book 2.99 is pretty cheap when I split it with a platform, publisher or even Amazon
Excellent article! I think some readers are missing the point. Dropping your book price to increase sales/exposure won’t necessarily work that well unless you promote the discounted rate. You can make it free and still not do well if you don’t promote it and using just your facebook and twitter isn’t necessarily going to work as well as you would like either. Chances are you’ve already saturated your followers with announcing your new book and reminders that you have a book(s). Putting your book at a discount rate is to get new readers/new followers and wider exposure. If you’ve dropped the price of your book and haven’t gotten a good response, perhaps you put too much weight on the price and not enough on the promotion end?
I have one perma-free first in series. I also have one $0.99 stand alone that does very well – others I have tested at $0.99 and don’t move at that price. The rest of mine tend to be $2.99-3.99 other than during promotions.
My lowest price e book is ‘Progeny Of A Killer’. The price is set at £1:31 for Kindle. I’m happy with this. The book is fairly small,enough to tell the story. ‘ Progeny’ has been my best seller to date. The other books are priced higher and do not sell as well.
About a year ago, I raised the price of both my books (each around 330 pages) from $2.99 to $3.99, and to my surprise, they have been selling better at the higher price. I believe some Indie authors underestimate the value of their products. Some readers are leary of the quality of books priced on the low end, but they love a bargain. I know this because when I run a sale/promo–with BookBub, for example–and discount the books to .99, I always get good results. Lowering the price from $3.99 to .99 is a nice discount that readers appreciate. If you start at .99 you have no place to go. This is just one humble author’s opinion.
I usually keep mine in the 2.99 to 3.99 and price range and will see a brand new book at 4.99. On the reverse, I buy a lot of books at .99 and it’s so easy to do that I forget them and never read them. I don’t think I’m the only one who does that. Often I will have a special offering a .99 special for the first book in my series and see very few of the second and third books go and I figure the buyers are like me and … buy and forget. And free is worse. I’ll fill my kindle with free books before going on vacation and then never read them. I figure, if you aren’t willing to pay a dollar for something you probably are far quicker to ignore the download, so I’ve decided to never give something away unless it’s a prize or a gift.
Haven’t a clue, really. I write books of between 53,000 and 77,000 words. Only one is on Kindle at the moment. I see books on Kindle that are but a few thousand words. I don’t understand it, especially when it appears some writers simply split their reasonable length books into three or four parts, presumably to earn more that way. My book due to be on Kindle shortly is 55,000 words. I’m sticking to my principle of writing a book of a ‘proper’ length.
I will price my first novel in the series at .99 and the second in the series is out of my control. Third and fourth are waiting for an agent, for now at least. Thank you. Shirley Mason
I’m sorry, but I don’t think there is anything clever in these pricing strategies. They are short term solutions to the problem market we Indies have created by competing on price alone. They solve the problem only until the market changes again (likely shifts lower as we are already seeing with increased reader expectations of 99c or free).
What we should all be doing is having a conversation about value based pricing – what is a book REALLY worth to a reader, rather that how much we want to make or need to cover costs. When we get our readers to think in terms of value, we will completely shift the pricing paradigm in our favour and pricing will vary to reflect different quality/length/type of story based on perceived reader value.
Ciara, with BookBub driving the market, you will not be able to change things with a few authors coming together.
Ebook prices went lower at one point, so we are lucky they are stable in the range shown. The problem of value based pricing is that different readers will value the book at a different price.
It will then come down to each author deciding what value our books have. And most authors rate their own books highly.
In addition, you seem to have missed or ignored the total income point. What’s important is your income from a book, not what price it is.
Something to bear in mind with pricing is the effect it has on page reads under KU. It is more of an incentive to borrow a book with a high price than it is a 99c book. Perceived value and all that. The danger is that underpricing has become the norm now, it is one of the great disappointments about internet sales that the drive to the bottom price wise is one of the only ways a product can distinguish itself from the rest but once everybody does it the product struggles for sales AND the perception of the brand as being of quality switches to one of it being cheap.
I definitely sell more when the price is dropped to 99p or 99c. More books sell, the ranking goes up and the book gets more visibility. I’ve been told that dropping the price cheapens the product. But until I have the following of writers like Marian Keyes or Jodi Picoult, charging $4.99 or £4.99 just won’t get me read.
LO’B…I trust YOUR experience/opinion. Please review my Amazon page/price and advise me of what YOU would do with my novel, as it relates to this ebook/price conversation.
I am inclined to agree with the information in the article. I want to attract readers and, as a relatively unknown independent author, I think keeping the price low is more likely to encourage people to take a chance on my work. Some of my titles are currently priced above 99c – this is because I am about to experiment with Countdown Deals, when the price will drop to 99c. To be honest, it is so, so hard to attract readers in a progressively overcrowded marketplace. Pricing is a key factor.
I’ve found $2.99 seems to be the best price. With free for the first book in a series, and the occasional promotion of .99c
I also get books because they look or sound like they’re great, for free and they pile up and never get read before more take their place. I have 500 books on my Kindle and 178 audio books. I did reviews for some but I haven’t paid for any, but I’ve only read a few of the ebooks though, the audio books are different, you turn them on and your brain can easily absorb them. where you have to be actively concentrating on reading an eBook, which is hard when you’re walking or riding a bicycle, unlike an audiobook. I love the fact that for an additional $2 you can get audio added to most e-books, in most cases. all Authors should do that, I believe, at least. So $0.99 is a good price for the first book, $2.99 is a little high, a dollar 99 is a great price for a book, for the second book in the series or whatever, because then if you get a percentage of the $2 audio fee, you’re getting the book sold for $4.
I’m recently published my first book and listed my ebook for $12.20 US and $16.99 CDN. Our thought process was based on the type or the theme of the book being published and to what audience.
I’ve sold a few paperback copies online and few eBooks already but feel the numbers are nowhere near they need to be.
Any suggestions on how to engage more online buyers ?
Please drop your ebook/Kindle price to allow people to buy your book with less risk. Then try http://TheBookPromoter.com to reach a big audience of readers.
Thx Laurence. Appreciate your feedback. Will work on that this for sure this weekend and I will check out the site.
Something that I have learned as an Indie author is that when you are ready to launch your book it is best to offer a free promotion if you are enrolled in KDP Select. You will find that you will have a great number of downloads during this time. Downloads lead to pages read which leads to earnings. I usually run my free promotion for three days and then increase my price to .99 and watch the earnings.
Our book is a non-fiction book on the subject of menopause and has been written by a medical doctor. What would you suggest our Kindle version be priced at?
Josh, most of what we recommend is based on a competitive pricing strategy. I suggest pricing your book the same as similar books on Amazon.
Hey, thanks for the article post. Will read on…