If you’re an Indie author, then you’ll know that depending on what stage of the publishing process you’re at, you’re going to have to adopt a different role: writer; editor; graphic designer; publicist; the list goes on. After your ebook and/or paperback and hardcover versions are ready to upload onto KDP, Draft2Digital, Ingramspark or whichever distributor you’re using, you’ll know it’s time to price your books. After all, as a sole trader, it’s up to you to do the job that a traditional publisher would do, supposing you had chosen that route. But, how to choose the right competitive price for your books? In this post, I want to share how I choose my prices, what I have learned from regular pricing and promotional pricing and my opinion on competitive pricing.
Look at other paperbacks in your genre
After searching around on Amazon and Waterstones, I discovered that the sweet spot for paperbacks in the genres I write (ghost horror and psychological literary fiction) tends to be around £8.99 for a 300 or so page book. This price works well for me, so I tend not to deviate too far from it. What price would work well for your genre?
How much would you spend on eBooks?
As a starting point for pricing my eBooks, I thought about how much I would pay as a consumer. I’m a subscriber of Kindle Unlimited, always having nine books on the go, but in terms of buying eBooks outright, the maximum I have ever spent is £1.99 – both on authors I love and new authors I haven’t read before. Based on my own purchasing limit, I tend to price my own books at around £1.99; this is enough to earn 70% royalties on KDP, but not priced highly enough to put off new readers wanting to try my writing and to sample me, as a new author for them. From my experience of tinkering around with higher prices, and lower ones through £0.99 sales, I’ve found that £1.99 seems to sell the most copies. What balance – between reaping the highest royalties and making the most sales – would work for you?
Shouldn’t I sell my ebook at a higher price? I deserve to be paid highly for my work.
This is true. I’m an Indie author too, so believe me I know how long it takes to write, edit and polish a book: months can turn into many, many years. Authors should be paid for their hard work – and the many hours of entertainment they give to readers. However, I’ve learned that the goal for now is to get my books in front of readers. To do that, I have to take off my writing hat and stick on my marketing one (a black Halloween witch hat with green trim, fyi – hey, I’m a horror writer after all). Isn’t it better to sell 100 books at £1.99 because readers are willing to take a chance on an author they don’t know, rather than selling only 10 or 20 books at £4.99 because your book is too expensive for them to take the risk on trying someone new? If you’ve already got a readership and/or a huge newsletter mailing list then, of course, you can set whatever price you’d like. Congrats too if that’s the case, btw. For a mere mortal like me in the writing world, it’s business as usual and so setting a competitive price helps gain new readers. I want to attract readers who will hopefully keep coming back to read more of my books; or buy from my back catalogue.
But doesn’t it put readers off if my book is too cheap as they’ll think it’s worthless?
Not necessarily. Readers love a bargain. If you set your eBook at say, £0.86/$0.99, your royalties from KDP will only be 35%, but you will be making your book available to a much wider range of potential readers. Books don’t sell themselves, mind you, so you’ll need to place ads if you drop your regular price to a promotional one: I have had some success with Bargain Booksy and the Fussy Librarian when I run discount promotions – and lots of success through Amazon ads. If your book is listed in Kindle Unlimited, KDP allow you to set your book for free or on a promotional price for 5 days in every subscription period. I have definitely had success by dropping my books to 99 cents and running ads for 5 day promos. Many best-selling ebooks are often either perma-priced at $0.99 or periodically reduced on promo discounts; if it works for big name authors, why not the rest of us too?
Long-term thinking that spans my author career as a whole is more valuable than thinking of making the maximum amount of cash off my latest published book in the here and now. I find that pricing books in a low ‘sweet spot’ where I can still reap 70% royalties from KDP, yet still entice new readers, is more beneficial both financially and in terms of widening my readership than trying to gain the maximum royalties per sale. Chances are, some of those new readers will stick around for future books, making it a longer term investment towards all of my books than a quick, short-term reward, in any event. At least, here’s hoping. I certainly don’t have a crystal ball, so only time will tell if the pricing strategies I’m currently using will work in the long term. But for now, my results have been pretty decent on the whole. I’m happy with the sales I’m making and the kindle reads I’m having, and at the end of the day, my goal is to get people reading my work, not to think only in monetary terms.
What do you think about all of this? Feel free to share your thoughts, or any other strategies that work for you. After all, writing and selling books is a lifelong learning journey!
That’s such a good point. I’ve been at this for 11 years and my books always sell better around $2.99, and I’ve tried a variety of different prices. It’s important to see what works best for you.
It’s interesting how $2.99/£1.99 seems to be the sweet spot. Glad to hear it’s working for another fellow Indie author too! ☺️
Yes. 🙂 Thanks for a great post!