On My Bad List: Price Points

Oh, Readers. I’ve been trying to set prices for The Clearing both as a paperback and an e-book, and I am just. about. to tear out all my hair.

What is a fair price for either one?

I googled it, of course, and saw every opinion under the sun, so basically I got nowhere and I still have no idea how much to charge for these things. The price I originally wanted to charge for my paperback was actually going to lose me money, which… I mean, I love writing and all, but come on. You know? So right now it’s sitting at a price that many paperbacks cost in the bookstores, but then I think, is that fair? I’m totally unknown. How much will people pay for an author they’ve never heard of?

And don’t even get me started on Kindle pricing.

Actually, nevermind, it’s too late. I’m already started.

There are free Kindle books. FREE. I did not know this because I don’t have a Kindle. And then there are lots of books that cost $0.99. Or $1.99. Really?! I knew they were cheap, but I was thinking $5.00 or so. Is that completely unrealistic and a total rip-off? Because if it is, please tell me. I don’t know much about these newfangled e-books.

Has anyone done this before? How did you figure out what price point to set?

HELP!

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16 thoughts on “On My Bad List: Price Points

  1. Heather McCorkle says:

    Will it be a trade paperback or regular? If trade then I’d say $15 is fair. If it’s going to be a regular paperback I think they go anywhere from $6.99~$8.99. I’d pay $16 or under for a paperback depending on whether it was trade or regular and I think those are fair prices for all the work that goes into a novel. Sorry I don’t do ebooks. Hope that helps!

  2. Heather Mazza says:

    not good with prices but I know I just spent 17 for a book for my daughter. For a 31 page book, it was kind of crazy and if shereads this one so much that it falls apart I might have to get her a kindle might save me money in the long run.
    Long story short I dont care what it cist I cant wait to read it.

  3. Alison says:

    Anne,

    I plan to publish my first book next month, and like you, I have found that price points vary widely. Because of my research, I have decided to only publish electronically at first, then move into paperbacks in the future. I would suggest looking into the practices of those self-published writers who are successful and in your genre. Their lessons-learned may save you future headaches.

    I also found there is a set of steps you should follow in a particular order when publishing electronically. For instance, the different sellers (Amazon, B&N, etc.) require different file types, but it doesn’t always make sense to use a one-in-all e-publishing converter for all sellers. And pricing can get tricky when using more than one retailer as well.

    I’d be happy to give more examples of what I’ve found, but I don’t want to bore you if you’ve already found these same tips. I can say I have spent more time researching the “how-to” sites than editing these days, and it seems inevitable that this will take some time to master.

    Good luck! I can’t wait to read your book.

    – Alison

  4. Jamey Stegmaier says:

    Pricing fascinates me. There are literally thousands of different approaches you could take; here’s my suggestion based loosely on what we’re doing over at Blank Slate Press. All of this assumes that your primary goal is to build a fan base–this isn’t about making a lot of money. You’re not going to make a lot of money self publishing, but given your already substantial reach, you have a legitimate chance of exponentially expanding your fanbase of you play your cards right.

    So here’s my suggestion:

    Paperback: $9.95
    Paperback + eBook (PDF): $10.95
    eBook (Kindle, Nook, iPad, etc): $4.95
    Hardback (signed): $29.95

    You may not have all of these options, and the price for POD definitely depends on scale, but I’ve listed them here assuming that you’ll make a little bit of money off each one.

    I think we’re moving towards a world where people want to buy content and immediately own it in multiple forms. If you buy a paperback book and you leave it at home, why shouldn’t you be able to read it while waiting at the doctor’s office on your iPhone? Hence the packaging of the paperback and eBook. It’s basically the slightest upsale–I think people will be more inclined to choose that option than the straight-up paperback, so you gain an extra dollar from those sales and your audience gains greater reading flexibility).

    The key is not to diminish the value of eBooks, as just as much time and hard work goes into writing them as writing paper books. That’s why your eBook is priced here at $4.95–sure, that’s very cheap for a book, but again, if your intent is to increase your fanbase, you have to give people a reason to say yes to your book instead of any one of the thousands of traditionally published authors who have $9.99 Kindle books.

    The hardback is there for your core fans, the people who will follow you to the ends of the earth. They don’t just want a paperback that they’ll read once and wedge onto the shelf. They want an Anne Riley tome, an inscription etched in your own hand on the inside cover, to sit majestically in the shelf in their living room that has all the critically acclaimed books they’ve never read. Except they’ll read your book. Make this a limited edition–sell 20 hardcovers and then remove that option.

    That’s it! I’m curious to see what you decide.

  5. Alicia B says:

    Most of the ebooks I’ve bought range from $5-10. They are cheaper than the physical books but in my experience have that sort of range. There may also be times when you want to have a promotion and for say, one week, lower the price to $2-3 just to get your name out there. I’m not sure if that helps at all but I hope so. Can’t wait to read it!

  6. Alexandra Shostak says:

    I have absolutely zero advice about this. But I will say if I see a book that’s published by a traditional publisher that isn’t a classic and is offered for free, I immediately wonder what’s wrong with it that they had to offer it for free to get people to read it.

    But I was thinking about you getting to make your own cover (which looks great, by the way!) and just about how cool it is that you don’t have to sit around biting your nails waiting for a publisher to make a cover you may or may not like, or to give you cool fonts for your chapter titles. 🙂 You get total control.

  7. Ron Smith says:

    Ann,
    I am Molly Montgomery’s favorite uncle though she probably will not admit that in public. She told me about your book and posted your “blog for help.”
    I self-published (a synonym for masochism) a novel about 18 months ago. The publisher set the prices for that one–$19.95 for paper, $29.95 for hard cover.
    I used X-Libris, though I’m not certain I would recommend them. The package included editing, formatting, cover design and promotion. Their promotion program was less than bad, non-existent is closer. But they published a nice looking book.
    My deal was “publish on demand,” meaning when a book is ordered they print another one. That keeps my initial costs down but when I sell books on my own I have to purchase more from them. My book is also avialable as an E-book, for $9.00, about normal, I think.
    $5 is too little.
    I don’t think you will price yourself out of the market by setting a price above break-even. People who have found descriptions of my book interesting have not balked at the prices. I sell them personally for $15 and $25. I can hook you up with multiple copies! Check Barnes and Noble for “Passing Through” by Ron Smith.
    Good luck. Let me know how you do.
    Oh, as you will note from above, shameless self-promotion is also a good idea.

    Ron Smith

  8. Connie Keller says:

    I’d second the earlier comment–go to J A Konrath site. It’s really the best I’ve seen. Good Luck!

  9. Suzi says:

    I would totally go with Jamey’s pricing here. I’m willing to try an author I’ve never heard of for $4.95. (Obviously I’m talking Kindle here.)

    I’ve been burned badly by .99 and under authors, so I won’t buy them any more.

  10. Raquel Byrnes says:

    Hmmm…I do try new authors if their stuff is free. I got turned on to books in genres I wouldn’t otherwise try. But the free offer was for a limited time. I ended up purchasing one of the author’s other books because I knew I liked their writing.

    Five bucks for a good read…sounds fair to me. =)

  11. Jemi Fraser says:

    This is hard! I really don’t know. I own a Kindle and to be honest I actually don’t check out the free books. I assume most of them aren’t very good. That’s probably not fair, but that’s the way I approach it. I can’t imagine wading through them. I don’t have any troubles paying up to $5 for an Kindle book for an author I haven’t read before. No matter what you charge, I’ll be buying yours 🙂

  12. Emmie Fisher says:

    I’d honestly recommend starting first with just the e-book version and if it seems to sell well, I’d go with print publishing next.

    As for prices, I hear that 2.99-5.00 is the best way to go. And with Kindle as long as you price at 2.99 or above, you’ll get the highest rate coming back to you.

    You can also use services like Smashwords that will put up your e-book on multiple sites. Like someone else mentioned, I’d definitely check out JA Konrath. He has a lot of good posts and a lot of guest posts from other self-published authors.

  13. Jamey Stegmaier says:

    I completely agree with Alexandra, Suzi, and Jemi–if I see a free book (or even a $.99 book), I wonder about the quality of the book. Plus, once you establish the price of free, it’s hard to move away from it. I think there are times to effectively use the price of free–like contests and giveaways to bloggers who will review your book–but you just don’t want people to start thinking that Anne Riley = Free. Your husband probably wouldn’t want that either.

    Congrats on deciding on $3.99 and $13.99. $3.99 definitely feels right, and given that you’d be losing money if you priced under $13.99, that seems like a good call for you.

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