Why eBook Prices Are Dropping and 3 Lessons for Pricing Self-Published Books

Why eBook Prices Are Dropping and 3 Lessons for Pricing Self-Published Books

Why eBook Prices Are Dropping and 3 Lessons for Pricing Self-Published Books
photo credit: _tar0_ via photopin cc

If you are publishing one book, or have only a handful of books, how do you know what price to charge? You have no or little hard data about how readers might respond to your writing. You certainly know what you'd like to earn—an objective often guided by the royalties paid by the online stores. But the reality is that pricing is more often than not dictated by a broader market filled with thousands of eBooks under $10, many of them on best seller lists.

With the demise of agency pricing eBook prices are returning to the sub-$10 range, where Amazon felt they should have stayed in the first place. In fact analysis out this week from Digital Book World indicates that the new pricing sweet spot is $4 and $8.

I think the number 1 reason why eBooks should be priced under $10 is that they are licensed and not sold to readers. That means they have less “value” to the reader than a print book. In a way that's good news for authors because an eBook can't be resold, traded or given away like a print book.

I also think that low prices encourage collecting and grazing—two luxuries readers have never been able to indulge in because they either couldn't afford to or they didn't have room to store all the books they wanted. But I think supply is also driving down prices, and will continue to do so. Consider these three forces at work:

  1. Amanda Hocking, Hugh Howey and EL James didn't launch their eBooks at $9.99. But now that they—and many others—are popular we are beginning to see that readers don't need as much help from publishers as the publishers thought they did. These authors, and many others, have learned that low prices attract readers which beget even more readers.
  2. More and more businesses are publishing their own content as eBooks, often as a way of building their brands or as a form of marketing. This content competes with other non-fiction content (fiction too if it isn't done right!).
  3. Blogging has surfaced the expertise of thousands of people who can use self-publishing, and the popularity of their blogs, to package eBooks for their readers.

The lessons so far?

  1. Price low to build readership.
  2. Write frequently to leverage your “investment” in readership.
  3. Engage your readership on all levels to build exposure for your writing.

Once you do these three things you can raise your price to $9.99, or even higher.

Having trouble getting your book noticed? Call me about how I can help you develop a Strategic Attraction Plan. Here are a few more articles on AuthorImprints about pricing.

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Interview: Leveraging Amazon’s KDP Select Program

File sizes matter when pricing eBooks 

Interview: A consulting team's publishing journey

How John Locke competes with big name authors

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