One of the most-asked questions I got from writers who took my recent self-publishing survey was, “How much should I charge for my e-book?”
There’s no simple answer to this one. Many factors go into this decision.
I’ve learned how much to charge for my e-books, through trial and error. But every author’s situation is different. How much should you charge for your e-book?
My short answer: All e-book pricing is an experiment.
When you pick a price, always keep in mind that you could revisit that price, halve that price, or maybe double that price, depending on the reception your price gets.
Or you might decide to make your e-book free.
The best price for your e-book depends on a number of factors. Here are some important questions to ask yourself in deciding on your e-book price:
1. What are your goals for this e-book?
The first thing to contemplate is what you’re trying to accomplish with this e-book. Maybe it’s something you’re creating as a free gift to your blog subscribers.
Or perhaps you want to use this e-book to lure readers to buy something more expensive from you later — in which case, $0.99 might be a good entry price to get lots of sales.
If this is your magnum opus, you might choose a more substantial price, depending on how you plan to market it. Which brings us to this question:
2. Where do you plan to sell this e-book?
There are many different approaches to selling your e-book. You might decide to only sell it on your own website.
Or you might only sell on Amazon, so you can get the higher royalties offered in their KDP Select program.
Or you might decide to post it everywhere possible, on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Kobo, Overdrive, and dozens of other book sites.
If you’re selling on mass platforms, you’ll particularly want to ask yourself:
3. What do similar authors charge?
You don’t have to charge the same sorts of prices as others in your genre or topic, but it pays to be aware of what’s out there, especially if your e-book will be featured in search results on a book site right alongside those competitors’ offerings.
If you’re thinking a 50-page e-book about gardening is worth $20, but everyone else sells their similar-length e-books for $2.99, you’re probably not going to see a ton of sales. If you’re only selling off your own website, you might have more leeway to price without regard to market competition.
Amazon’s pricing tips
If you’re selling on Amazon, keep in mind that recent data shows most bestselling e-books there are priced in the $3-$7 range. Amazon has played a big role in driving down average e-book prices, which has enraged some in the publishing world.
But keep in mind this info Amazon recently sent me via email, because I’m an affiliate seller on there: The lower the price, the more you sell.
Amazon says its data shows if you priced an e-book at $14.99 and would have sold $100,000 of it at that price, you’d sell $179,000 of that same e-book if you cut the price to $9.99.
Lower prices greatly expand the audience of potential buyers. More people buy, getting your ideas into more hands — and often, making you more money.
At $.99, many shoppers will consider your e-book a “no-brainer” purchase. It’s less than a buck! I personally bought several $.99-cent e-books this week alone. If you want to get buzz going, get your words into many hands, have many potential reviewers, make a lot of sales, and capture emails for selling the next e-book, this can be the price that makes it happen.
My advice: If you don’t have a $.99-cent e-book yet, set a goal of creating one first. You want an entry-level price where readers will jump in and start getting to know you, to lay the groundwork for successfully selling a higher-priced e-book.
I’ve seen these pricing approaches work in my own e-book selling…so think hard about whether you want to go high or low. One critical factor there:
4. Is your audience big or small?
If your e-book is on a topic with a fairly small but rabidly interested audience — say, Civil War re-enactments or underwater basketweaving — you might want to go with a higher price.
You’ll be less likely to be able to use a lower price to end up earning more, because there isn’t a mass audience for your topic. Another aspect of this:
5. Do you have a list?
If you have built an audience that you can email about your e-book, you are in a better position to charge more than if you have no list.
People who like you enough to opt into an email list probably think you’re pretty awesome. So they’ll be more likely to entertain the idea of buying a higher-priced tome from you.
If all your marketing will be through mass bookselling sites to total strangers, there’s less chance that they’ll think your e-book is worth $27 — when they’re looking at a page of Amazon results with other, similar books at $3.99.
But you might be able to charge more, depending on your answer to this:
6. Do you offer unique or highly valuable info?
Does your nonfiction e-book teach readers how to do something that could change their lives or earn them boatloads of cash? If so, it might command a high price.
There’s high perceived value if what I read in your e-book can be used to make me hundreds of times the price of your e-book. For instance, I’ve seen e-books that teach you a concrete system for how to launch and market a product sell great at $97 and more.
It’s rare that your nonfiction e-book will be the only place a reader could get the information you’re offering. But maybe you’ve got a unique spin, fresh data, or a new method to offer?
Rare information is more valuable to readers, so you could price higher if you have something exclusive. Unique info also means your offer can’t be as easily price-compared, which helps you charge more.
7. Does your price give you flexibility?
One cautionary note about pricing your e-book super-low: It makes it hard for you to offer special deals. And you want to offer those. Putting your e-book on a limited-time sale is a proven way to generate a flurry of sales.
Among the deals I’ve offered that have sold well, for instance, are:
- Half-price introductory sales
- “Bundle” sales where you buy one e-book and get a second e-book free
- $.99-cent sales
- “Pay what you want” over $X price sales
So consider having a “list” price but discounting that price down, at least on occasion. You’ll drive a lot more interest in your e-book.
Once you select a price, remember my short answer: It’s all an experiment. One of the thrills of selling e-books is that changing your price is easy and nearly instantaneous.
Don’t ever think your price is set in stone, or that you have to price like everybody else. Every author’s situation is unique, so feel free to carve your own path with how you price.
The e-book world is changing fast, so remember to revisit your price from time to time and consider whether it’s still the best one. Pricing right is key to create an e-book that earns well, so keep tinkering.
What do you think of the trend to lower e-book prices? Discuss in the comments.
Related: How to make money writing