After spending weeks, months and maybe even years writing, you can finally publish this book of yours.
Now the question is, how much should you price this book?
$1? $2.50? $3.99?
There are many factors you need to consider when pricing your book such as time and effort, the money invested and author brand. But first, let’s discuss the pros and cons of the common price points.
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Psychological pricing is a marketing strategy based on the theory that certain prices have a psychological impact.
For example, when a product is priced at $1.99, consumers will view it as spending $1 rather than $2. Meaning that they actually perceive lower prices and this encourages them to purchase since $1 is cheaper than $2.
Another psychological pricing is rounded figures like $100 or $40, compared to odd pricing like $39.72. Such rounded prices are processed quickly and ‘feel right’.
Or you could also try the ‘Buy one, get one free’ strategy. This strategy taps into human’s nature of greed. Logic is thrown out the window and consumers will focus on making the purchase to get the free item.
Common Price Points For eBooks
Just take a look at the eBooks sold on Amazon. Notice any trend?
Yes, that’s right! Most of them have .99 prices.
So we’ll explore the benefits and drawbacks of various .99 prices as well as other competitive price points.
Free pricing is best for fiction books.
(+) Baiting Readers With 1st Book In Series
If your first book is free, you widen the audience pool to everyone in the world. Anyone can download your first book for free then depending on how much they like it, they might continue to buy your next book or the entire series.
The goal is to get as many people to read this first book.
But note that you should only make your first book free if your series is very long. If your series is a duology or trilogy, it might be difficult to make a profit (where you’re giving away countless free copies of the first book but only having a few follow-up books for readers to continue purchasing).
(+) Free Marketing Strategy For New Authors
Pricing your books as free is an effective marketing strategy when you just started out.
You don’t pay a penny for reserving a promotion slot. In other words, you get word-of-mouth marketing for free, especially if many readers love your book. If these readers tell their friends and family about your book, they’re helping you spread the word without you paying anything. Plus, you might get some reviews too. This is especially important for a new book without reviews and for you, a new author without any fans and whom nobody knows.
I’ve implemented this strategy before but the result was a bit disappointing. Using my Free Book Promotion, I made the first book in my series free for 5 days when the final installment was published. I wanted to jump at the opportunity where people are more likely to buy a series when it’s completed.
Well, it did result in 100+ downloads and my book did rise to the 41st position. I was ecstatic at this amazing accomplishment. Even though there were some Kindle Unlimited page reads, I didn’t receive many reviews. Nor were there many sales of the next books. But note that this could possibly be due to me being a new author and that I didn’t do much marketing. Plus, the book cover wasn’t professionally done.
You need to bear in mind that the market is saturated with free books. Just look at the countless free books on Amazon. With so many free books readily available for download, readers might not read your free book first. They are likely to read the paid books first (since they’ve already invested some money) then free books. And since they might also download other free books every day, your free book will then be pushed to the bottom of the list—into the dusty corner.
(-) No Upsells Or Cross-Sells If You Only Have 1 Book
Never price anything for free if you only have 1 book.
Let’s say you make this one and only book free. Even if readers love this free book, there are no more books from you that they can buy.
Meaning that you can’t even upsell or cross-sell them because you have no other books that they haven’t read.
Hence, only make books free if you have other paid books under your belt. This way, you can at least make a profit after giving away numerous free copies.
(-) Free Is Essentially A Loss
When you’re making a book free, you’re actually making a loss.
Just imagine how much you could earn if you price it at $0.99.
You still get $0.35 per book sold.
Thus, by making a book free, you’re missing out on this profit.
So do weigh the pros and cons and decide whether free pricing is beneficial to you.
$0.99 Loss Leader
Again, $0.99 is best for fiction.
Similar to the free pricing, $0.99 creates a low entry barrier. This loss leader is the perfect price for the first book of your series.
In fact, I prefer this $0.99 loss leader more than the free pricing.
One, you get readers to easily start your series since the first book is so affordable.
Two, you don’t get the cons of free pricing. For instance, since your book still requires a little investment, readers are more likely to read your book first as well as leave a review.
But the downside is that the reach will be lesser than free pricing. Free pricing has no barrier to entry (except if your readers don’t like your genre or blurb). On the contrary, $0.99 has a barrier to entry. Although it’s a low barrier (just $0.99, much much cheaper than a cup of coffee), you might deter people who don’t want to spend a penny.
I think it’s better to set a price rather than making it free. You get to deter such freebie hunters who will never buy the next book in your series (there might be people who will buy the next book but they’re few and far between).
A fiction book priced at $1.99 is quite rare.
It’s in the middle of $0.99 loss leader and $2.99 sweet spot where both have benefits. On the other hand, $1.99 doesn’t really have many benefits.
I wouldn’t recommend you to choose this option. You’re better off implementing the other price points.
My novella trilogy is currently priced at $1.99 because
- I don’t have any other books to cross-sell if I use the $0.99 pricing
- The books are too short to be priced at $2.99
$2.99 Sweet Spot
$2.99 is the sweet spot for fiction books.
Because Amazon KDP royalty jumps from 35% to 70% if books are priced at $2.99.
However, note that this 70% royalty only applies to certain territories. For instance, if your book is sold to customers outside the Available Sales Territories, you will only get 35% royalty despite pricing the book at $2.99.
This is the reason why many books are priced at $2.99. This common $2.99 price has now become the industry standard.
Notice how I’ve never mentioned non-fiction in the previous price points?
Well, because non-fiction books are never priced this low. They’re usually priced above $2.99 because these books contain practical advice supported with research, facts and figures. Also, if they’re priced too low, readers will think that the books are not credible.
Therefore, don’t be shy to price your non-fiction books higher.
As indicated in the chart above, you can also choose to charge your fiction book above $2.99 if it’s highly rated on Amazon or Goodreads with many raving reviews. Or if your fiction book is super long, do consider charging higher to get remunerated fairly for your efforts.
If you’re an established author, you have the right to charge higher. It’s like an author branding. See how Apple’s products are priced much higher than its competitors? People are willing to pay more for the brand name.
But bear in mind that the 70% royalty is only for books priced between $2.99 and $9.99 USD. Hence, $9.99 is the maximum price to set for your books if you want to tap into the increased royalty rate.
Pricing Strategies For Print Books
When pricing your print books, do consider the cost of printing. This cost of printing will vary according to your choice of
- trim size
- cream or white paper
- black or color ink
Based on your choices, the number of pages in your book will also vary. You can choose a smaller trim size so the book looks thicker or if the book is really long, you can choose a larger trim size so the book is thinner.
Bear in mind that print-on-demand (POD) books are more expensive.
Compared to bulk printing where you print hundreds of books all at once (and thus, enjoy a discount), print-on-demand is where you print only when there is demand. Meaning that if there’s an order for one book, you simply print one book. Therefore, it’s more expensive since you’re printing a small quantity each time.
However, as indie authors, it’s recommended to choose print-on-demand. This is because bulk printing requires high upfront cost (plus, you might not be able to sell all the books you printed). One such print-on-demand services for self-published authors is CreateSpace (turning obsolete soon and will be replaced by Amazon KDP Paperback).
Depending on the cost of printing and the retail price of your book, your royalty will also differ. Here are some pricing strategies and tips.
Tip 1: Don’t Price Your Print Books Too Low
Obviously, you want to make a profit. Hence, do ensure that you set a retail price high enough that it covers the printing cost and at the same time, gives you a profit. Also, a low price might create the impression that your book is of low quality. A high retail price, on the other hand, will cause your customers to believe that your book has some kind of value. Which is why you can ask for such a high price.
Plus, you’ve invested so much time, effort and money to write the book, hire an editor and book cover designer, run marketing promotions, give away Advance Review Copies (ARCs) etc.
Your book definitely deserves a fair price!
So ask yourself honestly, how much do you think your book is worth?
Tip 2: Understand The Market Rate For Print Books
Try to research and find out how much the average price of books similar to yours is.
Hardcovers are bound with rigid covers and thus, are more expensive to create. They are usually priced between $25 and $30.
Paperbacks are divided into 2 types
- Trade: higher quality paper, priced at $14 to $20
- Mass-Market: usually priced between $7 and $10
Tip 3: Make Your Print Books Affordable
If you want to make your print books affordable, you can consider adjusting
- Trim Size
- Font Size
- Line & Paragraph Spacing
For instance, a smaller font size means more words on the page and hence, lesser number of pages.
But remember, don’t compromise on quality. You shouldn’t make your font size so small such that your readers have difficulty reading your book. Also, extra spacing actually makes a book look cleaner and more professional.
You can also consider writing a few decent length novels, rather than one long novel. For example, writing three 70,000-word novels instead of one 210,000-word novel. Readers might hesitate before buying a $20 thick book but might immediately buy a $7 thin book.
Pricing Strategy 1: Markup Percentage
Markup is where you add an amount of the cost in producing the goods to the selling price.
If a book costs $10, you can add 50% markup so you sell it at $15. You can make the price prettier by tapping into psychological pricing and pricing it at $15.95 or $14.99. Paperbacks in the US are typically priced with a .95 so do take this into account too.
Pricing Strategy 2: Fixed Amount
First, decide on how much you want to earn. Then, add this amount to the cost.
For instance, I’m happy to earn $3 per sale. Simply add the $10 cost and $3 profit and you can set the price at $13.
Pricing Strategy 3: Equal Or Higher Amount As eBook Royalty
Find out how much you earn from the sale of your eBook. Then, match that earning with your print book.
For instance, I earn $2.50 when I sell my eBook. I add this $2.50 to the $10 cost to get a price of $12.50.
I highly recommend that you price your print book such that you make an equal or higher amount as your eBook sale. Don’t price it such that your royalty is lower. This is because print books require more complicated formatting and they’re more difficult to produce (back cover, spine, printing, binding etc.).
7 Factors To Consider When Pricing Your Books
Here are other factors you need to consider when pricing your books, whether eBooks or print books:
1. Time & Effort Creating This Book
Consider how long you’ve spent writing, rewriting, editing and formatting your book. Everything from writing the first draft, incorporating beta readers’ feedback to revising the manuscript according to your editor’s comments.
It might take you months to years just to create a single book. Take that into account when pricing your book.
2. Amount Of Money Invested
A book isn’t created with just words.
You might need to hire an editor, beta readers, book cover designer and a professional to format your book. Or maybe even purchase a writing software like Scrivener designed specifically for authors (available on both Mac and Windows) or ProWritingAid (a spelling, grammar and style checker). And all of them require some investment.
You might price your books higher if it has a custom book cover, compared to a premade book cover. Or you might not consider this as a factor since it is a necessary investment.
Whether you deem this money spent as expenses or investment, do ensure that you’re compensated fairly for the book you’ve created.
3. Word Count
You can also decide the price based on how long your book is.
A 70,000-word novel would definitely be priced higher than a 20,000-word novella.
4. Book’s Popularity: Ratings & Reviews
If your book received many high ratings and positive reviews, you can certainly charge a higher price. These ratings and reviews affirm that your book is of high quality. They also form the impression that it’s a book not to be missed.
5. Author Brand
If you’re an established author with many books published, you can consider pricing your books slightly higher.
Because you already have a track record of creating books of high quality. Plus, you have a higher perceived value than new authors. People are willing to pay more because they perceive a high value in books written by you.
6. Your Goal & Situation
The price of your book also depends on your purpose and situation.
If your goal is to pull as many readers into your series, you might make the first book of your series free or $0.99 to create a low entry barrier.
If you’re a new writer, you’re likely to price your book lower so readers will give you, an unknown writer, a chance. This lower price alleviates some doubts and anxieties. Also, it minimizes the risks that a reader is taking to buy your book over a more popular book or a book by an established author.
Therefore, take into consideration your current situation:
- Where you and your books are in the market
- How established you are
- How popular your books are
Also, think about your goal:
- Whether you intend to create a low entry barrier or loss leader so more people read the first book of a series
- If you want to be remunerated fairly since you’ve invested so much time, effort and money into the book
7. Market & Competition
Browse the Amazon store and get a rough idea of how books are usually priced.
Then, search for competitors. For example, authors who write in the same genre as you or books under the same genre with similar number of pages.
You can use these prices as guidelines. Just ensure that the price of your book is reasonable. Don’t overcharge customers or underpay yourself (especially after all the effort you’ve invested to write the book).
Now It’s Your Turn
How do you price your eBooks and print books? What factors have influenced your pricing decisions? Do you have any pricing tips or strategies that you want to share with fellow indie authors?
For more book marketing tips, check out CreativeLive writing classes like How To Write And Publish An eBook and Sell Your First 1000 Books or watch streaming broadcasts of free online classes! You can also join online courses at Udemy~