Picking the price of a self-published book

Pricing is an important aspect when it comes to self-publishing. It’s a decision authors haggle with for days. Add in the fact that you are putting out the first book of a series – and that decision might take just as long as writing the book.

Pricing wasn’t something authors thought about too much before the self-publishing revolution. Publishing houses took care of that aspect using market research and data to come to a decision.

Self-publishers are relying on personal experience, published data and discussions with other authors to decide how to price books.

Fantasy writer Lindsay Buroker discusses her process in deciding what to price her book in this blog post. It is the first book of a series, but not a series that is finished or established. She doesn’t want to push readers away by having the price of the book too low or too high.

Buroker had many questions she had to ask herself before coming to a decision:

Should you price low (i.e. free or 99 cents) so more people will give your work a chance (and perhaps be willing to pay more for subsequent books in a series)? Or should you price your book higher, perhaps as much as a traditionally published novel, so people might think your work is of a higher quality? Or maybe you should try something in the middle such as the $2.99 price point, which earns you a 70% royalty at Amazon (with similar setups at most other stores) and is still a deal for the reader?

Many of these questions don’t have a definitive answer. By giving books away for free or cheaply, Buroker could see her book climb the Amazon ranking chart, but then would make little to no money. But attention is always appreciated and could result in future sales.

The free first book has worked for many people who have established series. The first book gets picked up and then readers want to continue the story, so they buy the next book. In this case, there won’t be a next book until a few months down the road.

Buroker did come to a decision (click here to read it. I won’t ruin it), but it was interesting to see her decision-making process.

This is just one of the things that self-publishers have to consider when putting out their own book. Something I may not have considered until a book was ready to publish – and probably would have agonized over it for days.

4 Comments on Picking the price of a self-published book

  1. Everything changes, though, if you’re writing a non-fiction book.

    Non-fictions can have a more limited audience. So do we price our books higher in order to earn enough to break even on time and research costs? Or do we price lower, hoping to tap into impulse buys?

    We definitely don’t have a “series” of books to sell, but we may be interested in getting established in a field.

    Yes, the whole self-publishing paradigm changes when you’re a non-fiction writer.

  2. I’m not an author, but it concerns me whenever I read advice to others about how to write, market, or price a “series” of books. It seems as if a lot (too much) emphasis is being place on these kinds of books. I read 100 plus books including Audible, but I don’t read series.

  3. I struggled with that question myself, and was always a bit depressed that the choices were free or $0.99 (“cheap”) and $2.99 (“expensive”) — expensive compared to what?

    So this was my take on the matter…

    http://www.davidderrico.com/cheaper-than-dirt/

  4. Susan Lulgjuraj // September 21, 2013 at 8:36 am //

    Thanks for the comments. I think we can throw out 50 questions to try and figure out how to price anything. Non-fiction, fiction, series, e-singles. … we can keep on going. It’s one decision that I am sure people agonize over.

    David, I love your post. Cheaper than dirt, indeed.

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