You could be KILLING any chance of selling your book by overpricing it.
$9.49 for a book from an unknown author? Are you kidding me? Are you CRAZY? $8.00 for a book that is 34 pages long? You are JOKING right … that’s not a book, it’s a pamphlet. I’ve written blog posts that are longer.
$8.00 for a book that is 34 pages long? You are JOKING right … that’s not a book, it’s a pamphlet. I’ve written blog posts that are longer.
I have worked with hundreds of authors by helping them market their Kindle books. Many of the authors I work with are promoting FREE days or 99cent specials. They often jack up the price of their books so that the FREE or 99cents looks like a really great deal. I have no problem with that … major department stores and on-line retailers do this every day because–it works.
However, when new authors set their regular selling price too high, potential customers will simply click away. Your new book will fade into obscurity and never get the traction it needs in order to sell steadily over the coming years.
What’s too high?
Though I’ve been known to be wrong at times, I think that for a first time author anywhere from $6.00 and up is too high. This of course assumes you are an unknown author and have no “other” reputation to launch your book with. For example, if you are a respected blogger with multiple-thousands of loyal followers, your new non-fiction book could sell well at $8.99. If you are Julia Roberts giving her first novel a push, you’ll probably be able to price at $10.99 or more. Of course, the first rush of reviews could fuel sales — or not!
I know exactly WHY authors over price. They’ve just spent six months to three years writing their about to be best selling novel. They’ve suffered over it. Draft after draft after draft. They may have spent a bit, or a boat load of money on it— coaching, book cover design, critiques, editing, formatting, how-to courses and more.
Writing a book is a speculative venture, but in the end … after all that work and money, authors think they DESERVE to be able to sell their book for $8.49 or more.
There Are Two Problems With “Deserve It” Thinking
First, you didn’t do their marketing homework. What is the AVERAGE book in your niche selling for?
For example, if you write romances in the sub-niche of “mail order brides” here’s what your competition is doing: There are dozens of books selling at zero. There are 8-book box sets selling at $1. There are multiple dozens of books selling at 99cents. You will seldom see prices over $3.99 unless you are purchasing a box-set or are a very well loved writer. So the average is skewed to 99cents (because of all the free ones). Most of the books are part of a series and run 150 pages.
If you search for books in the mystery-thriller-suspense category you will see prices over $15.00 … but only if you are David Baldacci, Jonathan Kellerman, or Lee Child.
What to get real? Do a Kindle Store search for “mystery thriller suspense” but before you get too excited … on the left of your screen you will see a grey “sort by” button. Choose “price low to high.” Changes things a bit, doesn’t it!
No One Knows Who You Are
The second problem is that unless you have been thinking ahead, most start-up authors don’t have a platform. NO ONE knows who the heck you are. You don’t have a reputation, You don’t have a track record.
You know what? That’s OK! Hopefully this will change over time as you build your reputation and your self publishing library.
What isn’t OK is to think you can sell your 50 page book at $15 o0 or more.
Here’s a typical buying choice …
I’m looking at two books:
The first one looks OK … cover is fine, description is good and the first chapter in the “look inside” feature is interesting. There are a few 5-star reviews. I click on the author bio which is interesting, BUT … there is only ONE book. And here’s the even BIGGER BUT … the book is priced at $10.99
The second book I’m looking at is by one of my favorite authors, Lee Child. He’s written best seller after best seller in the Jack Reacher series. I serious LOVE his gritty, hard hitting books. I am crazy about Jack Reacher and I can’t wait for the next book in the SERIES.
And guess what, here’s an ebook … yeah, it’s not part of the Jack Reacher series, but it IS a side-story featuring Jack. Cool. And things get even better … there are FIVE books under $3.00
Guess what I am going to choose?
A book by an unknown author for $10.99
A book by a best selling author for less than $3.00
Did you guess?
I know with absolute certainty that I will LOVE my new Jack Reacher story. Why on earth would I spend my money on an unknown author with no track record? Yeah the first chapter looked good, but …. less than $3.00 + guaranteed enjoyment wins.
And what about other Kindle authors? As an experiment I randomly clicked on one author featured under the Jack Reacher books. The author I clicked on … L.T. Ryan has over 10 books in his Jack Nobel series. Some of his books are priced under $1.00 Many of them at around $3.00. ALL of his single titles are under $6.00 And ALL of his books have hundreds of reviews.
LOL … experiment or not, the books look good. I might get one and see if the series appeals to me.
So I’m going to ask the question again.
Are you crazy? WHAT are you thinking! You are not only killing your sales, you may be killing your fledgling author career.
What SHOULD you price your book at?
Well it depends.
Please don’t hate me for “depends” … but there ARE a few things that factor into your price.
1. Your niche … mail order brides OR hard hitting thriller? Non-fiction light-weight or non-fiction heavy-weight?
2. The length of your book. A long short story? A novella? A 300 page novel?
3. Is this part of a series, or do you have a series planned (and when will the next book be available)?
4. Will you be doing FREE or 99cent promotions to build your audience and get more reviews? Reviews make a huge difference.
5. Do you have a platform with readers revved up and ready to buy?
Still need help? Read this, it will help you decide … FAST!
Most Profitable Price Point For Books
This study was conducted by Mark Coker (founder of Smashwords) several years ago. The findings on price point are as a valid today as they were when the study was first published. BUT book prices have doubled … so when you read the article double the price points talked about.
Let me know what YOU think. Would you purchase a book for $10.99 from an unknown author? If your answer is YES, I would really really LOVE to know why? What were your decision points?
There are several pricing strategies you can follow. One of them is to start LOW and as sales start to steadily come in, slowly raise your prices 50cents at a time. Keep stats and when your sales bottom out … go back $1 and stay there for awhile. Try raising your price again six months down the line.
What’s Next? How To Get More Book Reviews on Social Media
Here’s the full MUST DO Before Hitting the Self Publish Button list.
Davida Chazan says
No, I wouldn’t. Mostly because I know that some well-known authors are selling tons of books for 0.99 (both US and UK), and are very happy with the sales. Unknown authors – particularly the self-published ones – need to stop thinking they can ask top dollar for their work!
Phil Cobb says
Heck, no, Melanie. Why? Because I get books regularly from Book Bub or Book Lemur for 0.99 or free or 2.49 at the most.
Thanks for this informative kick in the pants.
Thanks for your feedback Phil … much appreciated. ~Melanie