Pricing your e-book

This post is the forty-fifth in a series about writing a novel. You can check out the list of past topics at the end of this post.

Your novel is written and formatted. You have a cover and the book blurb written. But before you can upload your book to whatever e-book retailer you choose, there are a few more things you need to decide. The first is price (today’s post) and then there is genre and keywords (next week’s post).

You have spent months, even years, toiling over this book. You, of course, think it is worth just as much as any New York bestseller. The problem is you aren’t Stephen King or John Grisham. No one – or very few people – recognizes your name.

While bestsellers can sell for $10-18 (prices based on hard cover and paperbacks NY Times Bestsellers on Amazon), should you expect your book to sell for the same amount? To be quite honest with you the answer is no. Yes, your novel may be well-written, but people don’t know you, and many will not be willing to shell out that type of money for a novel by an unknown.

You are free to price your book however you desire. If you feel your e-book should be priced comparably to a best-selling hard cover, go right ahead. But realize that many readers may not share your opinion, and your sales will reflect that.

A lot of authors, myself included, price their books at $2.99 since this allows them the higher royalty rate on Amazon but is still low enough to entice readers to give an unknown author a chance. Some authors price their novels $4.99 or higher. However, I will say as a reader myself, I rarely spend that on a well-known author, so I am not spending that on someone I have never heard of and may not like.

And of course, some people try 99 cents because at that rate people might be willing to try your book on a lark. As a reader, worst-case scenario you are out a buck and some time. Of course, there are some readers like my mom who never pay for a book because so many authors offer free books. (See below.)

When deciding on the price of your book, you should consider the book’s length. Is it a 10,000-word short story? A 30,000-word novella? Or a 100,000+ word novel?

Now you can come up with your own pricing but in my opinion, you should consider the amounts below.

Short Stories – 99 cents – as a reader I can’t imagine paying more for anything under 15,000 words.

Novels – $2.99 – $4.99 (If you are an unknown, I would aim for the lower end.)

In the end, we have to experiment and see what the market will bear. For an established author with a league of fans, a higher price may be fine. However, for a new author, without any fans, even getting $2.99 for a novel may be hard. Thankfully, changing the price of your novels takes just a few seconds so you can try out different rates to see what works for you.

***Also note that Amazon does have List Price Requirements for minimums (and maximums) of what you required to set. Check out their list here.

A note about Free Book Promotions

We will be covering this later, but since we are talking about pricing I wanted to quickly address if you should offer your book for free – whether it is when it comes out, on a promotion or to make it permanently free.

Well, that depends…

If you are a new author and this is your first book, I would say no, do not offer your book for free. If you have other published books, then you may want to consider it. Remember the long answer comes later. But either way, I don’t suggest you start your book out for free.

Previous topics

#1 – Deciding to write a novel – Writing Myths

#2 – Three areas to develop before starting to write a novel

#3 – Finding a Story Idea and How to Know if it “good enough”

#4 – Developing Characters for your Novel

#5 – Major characters? Minor Characters? Where does everyone fit in?

#6 – Developing the Setting for your Novel

#7 – The importance of developing conflict in your novel plot

#8 – To Outline or not to outline 

#9 – The importance of a story arc

#10 – The importance of tension and pace

#11 – Prologue and opening scenes

#12 – Beginning and ending scenes in a novel

#13 – The importance of dialogue…and a few tips on how to write it

#14 – Using Internal Dialogue in your novel

#15 – More dialogue tips and help with dialogue tags

#16 – Knowing and incorporating back story into your novel

#17 – Hinting at what is to come with foreshadowing

#18 – Tips for writing different scenes in your novel

#19 – Dealing with Writer’s Block

#20 – Killing a Character in your Novel

#21 – Keeping things realistic in your novel

#22 – Establishing Writing Goals and Developing Good Writing Habits

#23 – Using the five senses and passive voice in your novel

#24 – The benefit of research in fiction writing

#25 – Novella or Novel, Trilogy or Series – decisions for writers

#26 – Avoiding Plot and Character Clichés

#27 – Novel Writing – Endings and Epilogues

#28 – Fantasy Novel Writing – World Building, Dragons, Magic and More

#29 – Finishing your First Draft

#30 – Your Second Draft and Beyond

#31 – Picking Stronger Words and Watching out for Homonyms

#32 – Omitting unnecessary words in your novel

#33 – Beta Reader, Proofreaders and Copy Editors

#34 – Knowing your grammar or at least using a grammar checking program

#35 – Using a Revision Outline during your Novel Editing

#36 – Editing Techniques: Taking a Break and Reading Aloud

#37 – Publishing Options for your book

#38 – Self-publishing an ebook decisions

#39 – Picking Your Book Title and Your Pen Name

#40 – Investing in an eye-catching book cover

#41 – Writing an awesome book blurb

#42 – Deciding on Front Matter for your novel

#43 – Deciding on Back Matter for your novel

#44 – Formatting your eBook for publication

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