A couple of weeks ago I finished up a series on choosing the right price for your book, looking at a number of different factors that you can use when setting your price. Today, I’d like to turn all of that theory into a more real-world example with a case study.
We’re going to be looking at a hypothetical science fiction novel. This novel can also be classified into the time travel sub-genre, and it’s about 350 pages long. We’ll also say that it’s been on Amazon for a little while now and has five reviews.
What I’m going to look at in this article is the techniques from the third part in the series on choosing your book’s price. Those are the process of gathering data about similar books and doing research on what is considered a fair price by your audience.
Looking at Similar Books
Let’s start by looking at some books that are similar to this hypothetical novel and gathering some details about them. Since it’s in the science fiction genre, let’s start by looking at that category on Amazon. I’ve gathered the following data about 25 books from the Top 100 list for science fiction:
- Kindle selling price
- Paperback selling price
- List price for the paperback (this is the price that’s crossed out)
- Page count
- Number of reviews
- Overall rating from reviews
(And if you want to do this on your own, you can download this spreadsheet template to fill in with all of those details.)
I chose to look at the top 20 books in the category, plus five others I chose from the bottom 20. Here’s a chart of my findings:
Now, since this hypothetical book is also in the time travel sub-genre of science fiction, I’ll look at 25 of those books as well. Here’s what I found out:
Whew! That was a lot of effort! What did it teach us? Well, let’s look at our data.
Weeding Out Irrelevant Books
First off, we can remove some of these book because they simply won’t help us. The ones I’m going to get rid of are the ones in the science fiction chart that have less than 100 pages. Those books are very obviously aimed a different market than my hypothetical novel, plus most of them seem to be sci-fi romance. That leaves us with this chart for science fiction:
I’m going to leave my weeding at that, but you might want to also look for books that are obviously anthologies or that have vastly more pages than yours. For example, I could have also weeded out anything that’s over 600 pages. However, for our purposes today, I’m actually very interested in the fact that length doesn’t seem to fully dictate price for full-length novels on the Kindle store, so I’m leaving the longer books in my data.
Crunching Some Numbers
What’s going to help us most here is finding the average price in these categories. Happily, my spreadsheet software will do those calculations automatically, so this won’t take long at all.
Average Kindle price: $5.08
Average paperback price: $11.69
Average paperback list price: $13.91
Average Kindle price: $5.10
Average paperback price: $12.65
Average paperback list price: $14.85
From those averages, we can draw a couple of conclusions:
First, a good Kindle price for my book might be $4.99, which is what I get if I round either average Kindle price to the nearest “pretty” price. Now, it’s possible that I should price lower to try and break into the market, since I only have five reviews right now. For some insight into that, I can sort my spreadsheets by the number of reviews each book has. That will let me see what prices are working for books that don’t have all that social proof in their favor. In this case, it looks like $4.99 is still a good price, but perhaps $3.99 could help me get some extra exposure early on.
Second, remembering that I don’t have any control over where Amazon decides to set my book’s paperback price, I’ll look at the paperback list prices. It looks like I can list my paperback at probably $13.95 or $14.95. It’s also worth noting that the average selling price in both categories is about 15% off the list price. Perhaps (but this isn’t guaranteed) we can expect Amazon to knock 15% off my list price. That would be interesting to check back on a few weeks after I set my list price.
So, to conclude this section, I’ve decided that my optimal Kindle price is either $4.99 or $3.99, and a good paperback list price is either $14.95 or $13.95.
Polling the Market
Research into existing Amazon books is certainly useful. But we also need to think about audience expectations. And while looking at best-selling books on the Amazon charts will give us some details on that, it never hurts to double check with some additional data.
To help us with that, I’m going to look at a poll conducted by The Fussy Librarian deal site. This poll asked over 1,200 people what they think is a fair price for a full-length novel in e-book format. Reading through the results, it looks like the majority (almost 21%) voted that a fair e-book price is $3.99.
Does that change my research results, though? Well, I don’t think so. Remember that this poll was conducted by a deal site, so it’s likely that many or most of the people who responded rarely buy an e-book at full price anyway. Taking that into account, I think my optimal e-book price is $4.99. I’ll have room with that price to run a sale later to capture some of those deal-site readers.
The Marketing Factor
Of course, I can set my price anywhere I want, but it won’t do me any good if I don’t have a fantastic cover or a great Amazon description. And if I’m not getting the word out to people who might buy my book, I’m not going to sell many copies and get on that Top 100 list. With that in mind, here are a few articles from the Fix My Story archives that can help you start thinking about how to promote your book to the world:
- Five Ways to Promote Your Book That Won’t Cost You a Dime
- Five Ways to Promote Your Book for Five Dollars
- How to Find Bloggers Who Want to Review Your Book
I know this whole process of gathering and reviewing all this data seems like a lot of work, but believe me when I say that it’s well worth your time. You’ll begin to understand how the pricing the in Kindle store works, giving you a frame of reference for setting your own book’s price. It’s a great tool to have, and all that keeps you from using it is a bit of effort.