So, there are a lot of different views on pricing your book when you publish independently. One of the perks of going indie is the ability to set or change your price as you want to, so it’s a subject worth discussing. In the past year, there seem to be two major “camps” evolving. There is the “price it at .99 and move a lot of volume” camp, and then there’s the “inferred value” camp that says people will believe your book is higher quality when it is priced higher, so they’ll buy and you’ll make more in the long run anyway.
I’ll give you a little of my history and what I’ve learned in my very limited experience. When I first published A Hidden Fire, I knew it was going to be the first of a four book series. I also knew that, for most people, I was a completely unknown author. I initially priced the book at $2.99, which is the cheapest you can make a book and still keep a 70% cut from Amazon.
Now, the first month I had the book published, I sold quite a few! I was thrilled to make back my initial investment for proofing, formatting, etc. in the first month and a half. (I’d had a friend edit the manuscript for me, so I was able to save on that cost.) It’s a good thing I did! Sales in the next month dropped way off.
Now, to a certain extent, I was expecting this. After all, I’d sold to all the people (readers, family, twitter friends) that had been anticipating the book and I needed to give it time to find its audience. It was still disappointing. You always have dreams of people finding and loving your book and it becoming an instant success. But, I didn’t expect it.
December rolled around, and the second book, This Same Earth, was released. To coincide with this, I lowered the price of the first book to that magic 99 cents that everyone said would make my sales skyrocket.
Did they? Um…not so much.
Now, I did sell a lot more, though I would never classify it as a “skyrocket.” And that was also the month that I started to surge at Barnes & Noble. Part of this is because so many authors (in what I believe was a short-sighted move) pulled their books and put them into the KDP Select program. Authors who left their books at B&N definitely saw a surge in sales, so thanks, KDP Select!
What I did start to notice was that the second book (which I had priced at $2.99 again) was also selling well. I sold as many in the first week of sales with Book Two as I had in the first month of sales for Book One! So, people were buying the first book, reading it, and buying the second one. This, I decided, was good news. My books were finding their audience.
At the beginning of January, I raised the price of the first book back to $2.99…or, I tried to. Because Smashwords affiliates were dragging their heels with the price update, Amazon was still discounting, even though B&N had the higher price. I also raised the second book to $3.99. Just one dollar more, but I felt like it deserved the higher price. As a result, I was able to compare the difference from two venues where my sales had been roughly equal. (Yes, I sell as many at B&N as I do at Amazon, I have no idea why.)
The fall-out was, my sales at Amazon (where A Hidden Fire was still 99 cents) stayed relatively steady, but my B&N sales dropped off, big time. I was still making about the same amount of money, but my numbers had fallen and, more importantly, the sales of Book Two had really dropped.
What to do?
Now, do I think my books are worth more than a cheap cup of coffee? Well…yeah. Of course I do. I think they’re pretty good books! However, I also realize that for most people, I’m a completely new name! They’ve never heard of Elizabeth Hunter. They have no idea whether that 99 cents is just going to go to waste. So, after about a week and a half thinking about it, I decided to split the difference.
I would keep the first book, the unknown quantity, at 99 cents, though its list price at Amazon is still showing 2.99 marked off. (That’s implied value, folks. I’m perfectly happy with people thinking they’re getting a deal because, well, they are.) But I’m not dropping the price of the second book anytime soon. Why not? Well, if you bought and read the first book for 99 cents, then I’m no longer an unknown quantity, am I? If you know and like my writing enough to buy the sequel, then you know that it’s worth $3.99. That’s the same price as a medium fancypants coffee, folks. In a market where major publishers list their e-books at $11.99 or more, that’s still a bargain.
So, when The Force of Wind comes out in March, it’s going to be listed at $3.99. When Book Four comes out, it’ll probably be $4.99, not because I’m trying to cash in on readers who want the end of the series, it’s just looking like it’s going to be a monster of a book. That means it’s going to cost more to produce, people. These things don’t come free, I pay by the word count. Bigger book=more editing hours for my lovely editor, Amy Eye.
So, that’s where I am on pricing. Will I lower my prices in the future? Will I raise them? I could do both, either, or neither. That’s one of the perks of doing this thing my own way, instead of going with a publisher. But for now, I’m comfortable with A Hidden Fire going for 99 cents. If it’s introducing my writing to a greater audience, then, it’s worth it!
What is your book priced at? Have you tried lowering or raising the price? What has your experience been like?
Thanks for reading,