The problem of what you should charge for an eBook has become even more intriguing of late, what with the Amazon-Hachette stoush, where Amazon is trying to force the prices of digital books down.
Is this right? Is it catering to an unfortunate traditional publisher view that eBooks are the cheap end of the market? Looking back in history, that's what happened when paperbacks first came out. They were cheap and nasty -- "pulp fiction." But then they took off, until there were the levels of paperback quality that we find today. Classic reprints, mass market romances, perfect bound books, and that replacement for heavy hardbacks, the clothbound book have all sprung from the first paperbacks, which were meant to be carried in pockets, and read on railroad trains.
And they are all differently priced, which doesn't help when trying to decide what to charge for your baby. Rosen Trevithick, author of How NOT to ePublish, discusses it in a blog column called...
You Want to Charge £14.99 for Your eBook
Because it won't sell, that's why.
"When deciding how to price your book," says Rosen, "you must forget completely how long it took you to write, how much it cost to edit, and how truly brilliant it really is. Instead focus only on the value of similar-length eBooks by unknown self-published authors."
In a word, have a look at what is out there already.
BookBaby has a column about it. As they say, lots of authors are enjoying good sales at the currently popular prices of $4.99 to $9.99. Not only is this within the area where KDP pays a 70% royalty, but it reflects the quality of the book.
On the other hand, many writers believe that it is worth pricing cheaply to build up a fan base. Sadly, KDP pays only 35% for books priced under $2.99, which makes the income ridiculously small, but some authors, definitely, are doing well by going that way.
There is also the option of writing a series and charging nothing at all for the first book. Amazon doesn't like authors who do this, as it costs them money to keep a book listed, but there are outlets like Smashwords that do allow it. And, for some writers, it works like a charm.
So, in the end, no one can tell you how much to charge for your book (despite Amazon's heavy-handedness with Hachette). It is entirely up to you, the publisher. However, a young woman by the name of Nicci Leigh has a very interesting comment in response to the BookBaby blog, in which she lays out a choice of three strategies.
- Route 1: Price high and hold firm. If your book has high commercial appeal, believe it will eventually generate sales momentum. Price your book $4.99-$7.99 and hold firm. Offer promotions, such as free days, but do NOT drop the price due to lack of confidence. Readers will see this as a sign of failure. The higher price does imply value to many readers. They will pay for it, if you ask for it.
- Route 2: Price low and work your way up. If you have a book that you are using for promotional means or to get comfortable as an Indie author. Start at $.99 and work your way up, slowly and casually as you grow sales. Creep your way up...
- Route 3: Price low and stay low. Price your book at $.99 and KEEP it there. You will generate sales, and readers will repeatedly see your book listed all over Amazon, they will remember the low price point and eventually give yours a try.
Whatever you decide, good luck!