Wednesday, February 15, 2012

The Pricing Debate

I have thought long and hard for several weeks on this issue: pricing. Do I keep PARALLEL at $0.99 or bump it up. Now, there seems to be a trend when it comes to indie books...price the first in a series at $0.99 and all subsequent books $2.99. For the most part, this method seems to work. The low price for the first book entices readers to read your book. To take a chance on you, so to speak. If they like what they read, they'll certainly be willing to pay more for the second.

It's a great marketing strategy, and again, one that have proven successful, but it is indicative of the book's worth? Not only that, but being a writer is a business. No, this is not to say that we, as writers, are in it for the money. Perhaps some are, but for the most part, indie writers publish books because we love to write and want our stories to be read. But there comes a point where we lose sight of the fact that we are still working.

In my previous job, I was paid roughly $32 an hour. Before taxes, that's about $256 a day, for 8 hours of work. As a published author, I don't make $256 in a month. I roughly make anywhere between $60 - $125. Now, I still have a full-time job, so I am not relying on my book income to support me, but the point is, as a writer, I probably put in around 30-35 hours a week. If I were to apply my hourly rate of $32, I should be earning about $1,000 a week.

Again, this isn't about greed or making money. It's about an author's self-worth.

Now, let's look at the numbers from a business standpoint. Indie authors do not have the financial support of a large (or small) publishing house. Sure, publishing on Amazon, Barnes and Noble, iTunes, etc. are free. But what about the other aspects of publishing? What about editing! This is a part of publishing that is non-negotiable. We have to hire editors! I know there are many indie authors that use critique groups and trusted friends to edit and that's a personal decision...I'm grateful to have a fabulous editors that is not overly expensive. (FYI: Readers appreciate good grammar.)

Most authors contract out when it comes to cover art. Even if you create your own covers, you still have to purchase cover stock images. And what about formatting? Yes, you can learn how to format for eBooks for free, but personally, I like to contract that out too. My books look nicer and I do not have to worry about possible formatting issues. (FYI: Readers appreciate pretty covers and don't like badly formatted books!)

Then there's promotion. Again, this can all be done for free, but there are many indie authors that provide giveaways. And there's a cost for that.

So while the big chunk of publishing a book boils down to a small investment, you still have to take into consideration the time that is invested in writing a book. And as we all know, time is valuable.

So what, as indie authors, do we do? We can bump our prices and take a chance that our books will be purchased or keep our prices low to encourage new readers. Then again, it takes less books sold to generate more royalties, should we price our books higher. I'm not suggesting raising prices to reflect legacy publishing standards, but is $3-$4 too much? Are we being held to a different standard? That our stories aren't worthy enough, all for the sake of marketing?

There are many other arguments to this issue, one that I have studied and reviewed with great interest. But the bottom line is, what am I willing to spend on a book? Personally, I don't mind paying $2.99 when it comes to indie books. Even if the author is new to me. If it's not great, well, I can think of a lot of traditionally published books that I bought for $7.99 or more that weren't all that either.

What determines your pricing?


  1. I wish I had something valuable to add to this discussion. I know .99 seems to be the popular price, but I have paid - and will pay - 1.99 and up for a book I like. If the blurb is good and catches my attention, I'll buy it, period.

    Good luck. Looking forward to seeing where this discussion goes:)

  2. I have nothing great to add here having never finished any work to publish and having never brought an indie book! I haven't done this because I don't really get on with reading off the screen as I spend so long looking at the screen for work/writing.

    I think I would happily pay £2 or £3 for a book....not sure what that is in dollars. I am no help am I?!

    But anyway, have a great rest of your week!!!!

  3. @Stacy - That's what I think too...if a book catches my eye I don't mind paying reasonable prices ($2-$5) even if it is an author I haven't read before. If it's not as great as I thought, well, it's better than paying $12 to go see a movie that's worse!! :)

    @Em - Thanks for weighing in! Really? You've never even read Amanda Hocking? Most indie authors have print books too, not just ebooks. And you're wrong, your input is always valuable!

  4. I don't think there is an easy answer to the pricing question. Most indie books are clearly worth more than $0.99, but then you have to weigh the short term loss of revenue with the long term goal of building your readership. I think its also interesting how some books actually sell better at a higher price point.

    Interesting post!

    1. Thanks for weighing in! You're right, everyone has a different experience and thoughts with regard to pricing.

  5. Claudia, I just finished my first book by you and I look forward to the second in the series.

    I read, on average, a book a day, mostly self published, and currently use goodreads as my own personal rating system. 5 stars is "amazing, can't wait for next in series," 4 stars is " really good, planning on purchasing next in series" and 3 stars is " did not finish or will not purchase next in series.". My earlier ratings are not entirely accurate as I entered a load of books at once, but the past week or so has been accurate.

    For an indie author I know I love, I will pay $3.99 for a first in series book. For a second book in a series where I rated the first 4 stars, I will pay up to $3.99. If I rated it 5 stars, depending on how long the book was and how much I loved it I will pay between $7.99 and 9.99 for a second book.

    I think the key is creating a fan base and making money in the sequels. I know that I am most frustrated by constantly seeking out new authors--I'd rather pay more for tried and true. I typically don't pay more than a dollar for first novels, though. With reading all sequels to books I like, my habit costs me a good $100 a month as it is, and it isn't a matter of whether or not a book is worth it.... Of course it is. It is about supply and demand, and kindle reading finally reaching a price point where it can start to replace the library for some middle class people.

    You have a good thing going, and you definitely have talent. I think if you keep at it, the money will come, in a snowball effect kind of way. Good luck!


    1. Keri, thanks for your input. I never thought about the fact that readers and reasonably priced books being an alternative to libraries! Glad to have your opinion on the subject as a reader and thanks for the nice words!!


Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.