Self Publishing - Price Point

I think I’m running out of blog ideas. That’s kind of scary, isn’t it? A writer with nothing to say? The rambling isn’t the problem. . . I think I could do that 24/7 as that’s how my mind tends to work, but it’s the self publishing bit. It’s a difficult gig and I’m still learning as I go, so it’s hard for me to know what’s important to share and what’s common knowledge to you indie writers.

There is one topic that I haven’t touched on yet that seems to be a big one. Price point. How much do you charge for your written words? I’ve paid a lot of money for some of the hard back books that decorate my book shelves, but I don’t print my books – not yet at least. So hard back or paper back pricing won’t really work.

If you’re selling solely on Amazon, then you are strongly encourage to keep your books under $9.99, and they really prefer them to be closer to $.99. Many authors scoff at this idea. $.99?? That’s ridiculous! Maybe for a well known 300 word masterpiece that’s ridiculous, but we’re just getting started. No one knows our names. No one knows whether or not our work is deserving of their time and money. So I see both sides of the argument. If you’re trying to survive on an author’s salary. . .well. . .I really recommend that you get a side job. Can being an indie author be your full time gig? Sure, but it can take a lot of time and if you have a family relying on you for survival, you might want to consider a day job. Or a night job – however you want to look at it.

I’m not telling you to not shoot for your dreams, but I’m advising you to be rational and realistic. You’ll just have to work twice as hard for your dreams as someone who is independently wealthy and wants to be a full time writer.

But back to price point. I think there are a number of variables that you have to consider when pricing out your book.

  • How many books have you published?
  • Do you have a following?
  • What’s your page count? (Short story or full length book)
  • What platforms are you going to offer it on?
  • Do you include illustrations? Are you paying an illustrator from the proceeds?

If this is your first self published book, and you don’t have any prior publications in magazines or awards won or a doctorate backing up your research, consider a lower price point. I’m not saying you need to offer it for $.99, but consider $2.99 or $4.99 (based on your page count). Put the shoe on the other foot. If you were looking for a new book to read, would you pay $9.99 for an e-book by an author you’d never heard of before?

If you’re not attempting to sell solely on Amazon, then consider offering some teasers or short stories for free on your own website as it can then be offered on Amazon for free (as they’ll price match the lowest price on the internet). It’s a good way to give people a taste of your work and encourage them to read your masterpiece.

I’ve read several blogs that say you should never ever give your work away for free. Would you work at McDonalds for a day for free? It’s really for you to decide in the end. Writing is unique in that, unlike other artists – painters or sculptors—you can’t really preview the finished product and decide whether or not you love it. You don’t know how you feel about a book until you’ve read it. . .and very few people want to buy ebooks after reading them.

If you have a fantastic marketing budget, you can probably entice people to read your work. But for the majority of us who are winging this and have $0.00 for marketing, it’s easier to give away a few copies of our work to get our names and titles circulating.

As authors, we have hundreds of thousands of competitors—most likely in our genre alone. Those are bad odds. But, fortunately for us, ebooks make it easier to purchase and read books and many people are jumping on the ereader bandwagon. With series like Harry Potter, The Hunger Games, and even. . .yes. . .Twilight, reading is becoming popular again. For a while there, I thought it was going out of style. So people are becoming more willing to take a chance on new books and even unknown authors. You just have to give them enough incentive to give your work a try.

In conclusion, I’m not going to tell you what you should and should not list your book for. If you just love to write and share and want to offer all of your work for free, kudos to you! If you want to survive solely on your writing income, then roll up your sleeves and take the gloves off, because it’s going to be a rocky climb. For you middle of the roaders, like myself, keep trucking away and don’t be afraid to do a little experimenting. If your book isn’t selling at $4.99, try a Kindle Countdown deal or see if you gain any momentum by offering it for $2.99.

Regardless of what you decide, lighten up about it. Life is way too short to fret each and every detail and stress over every penny. Do I know what I’m talking about? Probably not. But, I can tell you that I have made more money as an author this year than I did last year. And next year should be even better. It is hard work, and if I had 40 hours a week to devote to it, I’d probably be doing better than I am now. But I don’t. So I’ll just keep climbing one ledge at a time until I reach a platform that I’m comfortable on.

Best of wishes to you and your endeavors. As always, kind comments and suggestions are welcome. 

photo credit: EJP Photo via photopin cc