Notes from An Alien

~ Explorations In Reading, Writing & Publishing ~

Who The Heck Knows The “Right” Price for An Ebook?

I self-published a book in May. I set the paperback price at $12.33 (US dollars) and the Ebook at $.99.

I’m also still giving the book away free in a digital edition. I explained my reasoning in the post: Free = Sales ~ Give It Away & Sell More…

An author I highly respect, who bought my book, told me I needed to raise the price on the Ebook

I’m still thinking about it

Two blog posts have got me thinking even harder.

Dave Slusher at Evil Genius Chronicles wrote the post, Ebook Pricing vs Revenue. Even though it was written back in January and the exact numbers used may need updating, the method for finding the “sweet-spot” price for an Ebook is valid–if you have a penchant for math :-)

The other blog post was from L. M. Stull and wrapped around my mind more comfortably. It hit some emotional-pricing considerations. Here are a few snippets from, Ebook Pricing: Too Low? Too High?:

“The biggest argument I hear is that by selling your ebook for so little ($0.99 and the like) you are devaluing your work product AND that you are not obtaining quality readers. I have a lot of issues with this argument.”

“Personally, I refuse to buy an ebook for $9.99. The only exception to this rule would be if William Faulkner crawled out of his grave and published a new book – then, and only then, would I *think* about it. My reasoning behind this is my ebook reader cost me $139. I’m not going to buy an electronic version of a book that cost almost a tenth of what the reader did.”

“So what is the perfect price point? Heck if I know. I think it comes down to your marketing campaign, the quality of your book (of course) and I hate to say it… but also luck.”

Do, please, read the whole post. Much there to ponder

I’m hard at work on the sequel to Notes from An Alien and will more than likely raise its price ( a bit) when the second book is published.

What are your experiences with Ebook pricing?

Do you have any friends who are experimenting to find that “sweet-spot” price?

Who The Heck Knows The “Right” Price for An Ebook?
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25 responses to “Who The Heck Knows The “Right” Price for An Ebook?

  1. L.M. Stull August 2, 2011 at 12:42 am

    Thank you for mentioning my post! It’s been great to hear everyone’s thoughts on the topic! :)


  2. dandilyon August 2, 2011 at 2:07 am

    Great post Alexander! I’ve been mulling this over myself. I agree with the ‘get your book out there’ approach. When my first book came out I gave away free e-copies to everyone who attended 2 separate author Q&A sessions I had on Gather and on Goodreads. My reasoning was that the people that populate those sites tend to be bloggers and reveiwers. That planned worked, and in the first month I was able to rack up around 50 reviews, interviews & other mentions. Otherwise I don’t offer it for free.

    I originally listed my ebook at $2.99 but when my marketing book comes out in a few weeks the price will go to .99 for fiction and $2.99 for all my nonfiction. I don’t feel one has more value than the other, but I personally will pay more for a tool than a toy.

    I’ve just started reading your book last night and look forward to attending the new later discussion session. Much better for me than trying to get up at 6am to attend ;p


    • Alexander M Zoltai August 2, 2011 at 2:18 am

      I like your distinction between fiction & non-fiction :-)

      Glad to hear you’re wanting to come to the Sunday Global Peace Chat!!

      Funny thing happened since I wrote this post

      I’d sent an email to my POD publisher asking if there was a fee for changing the price I’d set. He quoted $49…

      I thanked him and said I’d be saving my pennies…

      He wrote back and said: “No problem… You’ve been a long-time FastPencil user and I appreciate that.. if you want to do a price change just let me know the new price and I’ll see if I can squeeze it in for you.”

      I wrote back and said I’d ponder his gracious offer and pointed him toward the ambiguity I have about pricing with a link to this post :-)


      • dandilyon August 2, 2011 at 2:24 am

        What funny timing! I wonder if amazon charges a fee for a price change. I hadn’t considered that. With everything so automated I assumed it was just a enter and click type of thing. Now I need to go check…


        • Alexander M Zoltai August 2, 2011 at 2:36 am

          Well, FastPencil does all the distribution to Amazon, B&N, Ingram, and iPad for me (plus collects all the royalties) so I change my price (if I decide to do it) with FP and the others just reflect it…


  3. dandilyon August 2, 2011 at 2:59 am

    You might want to check out Smashwords then. They distribute to all the same places, you can offer free copies and coupons and it looks like you can change the price anytime for free. I didn’t go through the whole procedure, but I highly doubt they would charge and there was no mention. When I am actually ready to change the price later this month I’ll complete the process.

    They had another interesting feature I hadn’t seen… they allow you to choose a reader set price, so if anyone feels like your work is worth more to them than your minimum price, they can choose to pay more.


    • Alexander M Zoltai August 2, 2011 at 5:19 pm

      Choose to pay more is an intriguing feature!!

      I doubt I’ll switch to Smashwords, though. FastPencil has other features that are extremely important to me:

      * Use their site for the actual writing while checking final formatting and “look”.

      * They format the Ebooks.

      * Invite folks into the site to review, edit, or co-author (each has different permissions with the manuscript).

      * A support system that is the best I’ve ever experienced,


  4. Lindsay Buroker August 2, 2011 at 5:57 am

    I kept my first novel at 2.99 until I was about to publish the second one. Then I lowered it to 99 cents and published the sequel at 3.99. I started making more sales across the board (of an unrelated novel and of my short story collections too) when I dropped the first novel to 99 cents, and I plan to keep it there (while continuing to release new novels at 3.99).

    I’ve been told I could charge more too. That’s okay. I like to over-deliver, giving folks a more entertaining read than they expect for what they paid. I still make money, and readers get a good deal. Let’s say I sell 500 copies a month of my 3.99 ebook. That’s well over $1,000/mo in earnings for me. That’s more than 12k a year–darned respectable considering we’re just talking about a single book. No need to be greedy and charge more, IMO. Just get more books out there! :)

    I’m okay with free or 99 cents for novels, but as part of a marketing plan to move other, higher priced, works. Because let’s face it: that 35% royalty is pretty lame. That same 500 books now barely earns you enough to take the family out to a nice dinner at the end of the month (two dinners if the family is okay with Applebee’s :P). I think if you just have one book out there, then it’s worth experimenting and figuring out what earns you the most. You really do have to sell a *lot* more at $0.99 for it to be worth lowering it that far.

    Good luck!


    • Alexander M Zoltai August 2, 2011 at 5:24 pm

      As always, Lindsay, I greatly appreciate any advice you offer–you’ve been in the trenches and know the territory :-)

      I see the value of a $.99 book to help later, higher-priced ones.

      One reason I still have my book at $.99 is that it’s an extreme “niche” book. I don’t have the built-in draw of a popular genre………


  5. Anke Wehner August 2, 2011 at 7:33 am

    Speaking as a reader, my favourite pricing model for a series is having the first installment available for 99 cents (or maybe even free, if the series is longer), and a higher price on subsequent books. It lets me test the author’s work, and, well, “I liked another book by this author” is my #1 reason for deciding to buy a book.

    I think my visceral speedbump where I think several times before buying a book is at $4 or more, though there are a few authors for whose latest book I’m willing to pay $10 or so, too.

    Raising the price of the first part of the series when the second comes out seems backwards to me.


    • Alexander M Zoltai August 2, 2011 at 5:29 pm


      So glad to have a Reader’s ideas reflected here !!

      I can agree that raising the first book’s price as a series progresses feels backwards.

      Thanks for stopping by and sharing the Reader/Shopper perspective :-)


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  7. Karla Telega August 2, 2011 at 9:40 am

    I charged $2.99 for my book since that’s the minimum breaking point for getting the higher royalties on sales. Most people will think twice before paying more than $3.99 for an ebook. I know I would. I don’t see how people can sell ebooks for the same price as paperbacks, but a lot of them do. I haven’t read John Locke’s book on how he sold 1,000,000 copies of his ebooks in less than six months. He prices his books at 99 cents.


  8. cmmarcum August 2, 2011 at 2:58 pm

    IMHO– if your first book was free, your second book is 99 cents, then the next should be 1.99 or 2.99. Keep raising the pot. But, hey, that’s only an opinion. I think it’d be a mistake to go back now and change the price. Perhaps, recommendations have been made by word of mouth and a new customer might be surprised by sticker shock. (It’s all too easy to pirate a copy, anyway.) Don’t look back, look forward. But what do I know???


    • Alexander M Zoltai August 2, 2011 at 5:33 pm

      Hey, C. M., you know a lot!!

      And, what you bring up makes a ton of sense: Raising my price now on the first book in a series would be potential book-suicide………


      • cmmarcum August 3, 2011 at 1:51 pm

        And when you come out with the second book, be sure to provide a link to the first book. A second book, especially a series, can drive sales for the first one. Haven’t you done that when you found a series? Don’t you stop and say, ‘well, I better start with the first one. It’s older and therefore cheaper anyway. If I like the first one, then I’ll buy the second one.’


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