How to Choose the Right Price for Your Book, Part 1

How to Choose the Right Price for Your Book part 1

Today I’m starting a new series on one of the biggest challenges we indie authors face. That challenge is pretty much the entire process of setting a price for a book. I know plenty of authors, including myself, who have spent days or weeks agonizing over which price to choose. And then once the price has been set, these same authors still wonder if they made the right decision.

Well, I believe that while choosing the right price is a difficult part of self-publishing, it’s not something we have to do blindly. And so over the course of the next several posts, I’m going to explore a number of strategies for pricing your book, plus I’ll give you some ideas that will help you choose a good price for your book without quite so much second-guessing.

Before we dive into all the nitty-gritty of pricing, I think I need to spend some time talking about typical author attitudes and self-worth.

The Two Typical Attitudes of Self-published Authors

When I talk to authors about their book’s pricing, I typically see a couple of attitudes. Let’s look at each one.

“I don’t feel like my book is amazing, so I’m not going to ask very much for it.”

I actually don’t see a lot of authors say this in so many words. It’s often disguised as something more like, “I don’t think anybody would pay that much for my book, so I’ll price it lower.” But I think at the root of that sentence is the thought that my book isn’t good enough to ask for a fair price.

Let’s confront this attitude. Here are a few things to think about:

  1. You wrote a book! (Read that again and soak it in.) Now, if you have taken the care to edit it well and present it professionally, you have nothing to be ashamed of. You’ve done the work, so get out there and act like your book is worth a fair price.
  2. How much would you pay for somebody else’s book? Sure, you might be a starving author who prefers to buy books used or get them from the library, but when you’re drooling at a new novel from your favorite author on Amazon, do you feel like it’s priced too high? Probably not. Remember that when you think about pricing your own book.
  3. If you price your book too low, think about whether that’s sending a message to your potential readers about the book’s quality. Price like you have no confidence in yourself and potential readers will believe you.

Here’s the second attitude I see a lot when talking about pricing:

“I put a lot of effort into writing this book, so I’m going to make sure I get a high price for it.”

You might think after all that discussion of self-esteem and not pricing too low that I would be in favor of this second attitude, but I’m not. This is the other extreme. This is where the author believes that they deserve a premium price, without stopping to think about whether their target market will support it. That’s a dangerous, not-book-selling position to put yourself in. If you feel like you might be leaning this way, you’ll want to make sure you do some research into typical prices for your market before you slap that premium price on your book.

Okay, so those are the two attitudes I see the most. And of those two, I tend to see the “price lower” version more often. I’m tend to be a champion of pricing books higher, and I’ve made a number of my author friends squirm when I’ve told them to raise their prices. So since I have a reputation for pushing people to price higher, I thought we could start this series on choosing the right price by looking at the opposite. Let’s wrap up this first article with a look at reasons you should price a Kindle book below $2.99.

Three Reasons to Price a Kindle Book Below $2.99

Three Reasons to Price Kindle Book Below $2.99

When you’re talking about Kindle books, you’re going to want to consider Amazon’s royalty model. If you price within a certain range (currently between $2.99 and $9.99), you’ll earn a 70% royalty instead of just 35%. Obviously, Amazon is trying to push you into the 70% bracket where they believe most e-books belong. When should you ignore Amazon’s siren song of higher royalties? Here are three reasons you might want to go for a lower price.

Your book is very short

It’s a pretty safe bet that if your book is a short novella or even just a short story or two, the general public isn’t going to be willing to pay $2.99 for it. That’s just an unfortunate fact of the Amazon Kindle system. In this case $0.99 or $1.99 might be the best option to sell the most copies.

The book is an add-on to a longer book

Maybe you’ve written a “bonus” story that adds to your novel’s world or briefly continues a character’s journey. In this case, you’ve already made a sale on the novel, so you don’t want to alienate your loyal readers by asking them to pay again for bonus content. This is a case where $0.99 is probably best.

It’s the first book in a series

This one is a common strategy that seems to be pretty effective. You put the first book in your series at $0.99 to make it really easy for somebody to start reading, but then you price the rest of the series in the 70% royalty bracket. The sacrifice of a smaller earning on the first book then pays off when readers get hooked and subsequently purchase all of the remaining titles at full price.

Looking Ahead

As I said at the beginning of this post, I’m going to be spending a lot of time on pricing in future articles. Here’s a peek at what’s coming up:

  • Pricing your paperback.
  • Researching how similar books are priced.
  • How to leave room in your price for sales.
  • And more!

I’m really excited about this series and I don’t want you to miss any of it. If you’re not yet a subscriber to the Fix My Story mailing list, this is a great time to join and get each new post delivered right to your inbox. Use the form below to hop on board.

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One thought on “How to Choose the Right Price for Your Book, Part 1

  1. I’m really pleased that someone acknowledged short stories. It always seemed to be assumed in these discussions that we’re talking about a novel of at least 40 000 words.

    My longest book so far comes in at just under 11 000 words. And I’m happy with that. I enjoy the Flash Fiction to Novelette formats. Those are what I like to read as well. That shouldn’t make me a pariah.

    Consequently, my highest priced book costs $2.59, and that’s for a 5k word short story that’s gotten really great reviews, and even got five stars from Reader’s Favourite.

    My others (newer and longer, but without as many reviews) cost $1.88, $1.99, and (for my latest, a collection of flash fiction) $0.99.

    Oh, and I also have one really short story (under 2k words) that’s permafree.

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