Pricing and Making Money with Amazon Kindle
Book pricing seems to be a never-ending topic among indie publishers. The average ebook price ranges from 99 cents to $9.99 on Amazon, B&N and other self-publishing platforms. While some books perform pretty well at one price point, others seem to dwindle and eventually end up in the depths of Book Ranking Hell. In turn, this prevents anyone from easily finding it among the tens of thousands of similar entries available. So what’s going on with the whole pricing thing, and how can you make the most out of your book in terms of sales numbers and profitability?
Over the years, I have noticed how ebook pricing has fallen into a bit of a trend as many writers follow the same footsteps as someone they admire due to their exemplary sales figures. Aside from this, many indie authors have slowly abandoned the 99-cent price point and instead have started selling their works at $2.99 or higher.
Many apply this pricing routine to virtually every book published regardless of length and overall usefulness. Why? Because 99-cent books have slowly developed a bit of a negative stigma, making some readers believe that these are only written by sub-par indie authors as opposed to long-established professionals.
For better or worse, the phrase indie is not something everyone appreciates, and this applies to writers and readers alike. After all, most indie authors dream and fantasize of making it big one day, and this subconsciously makes them not want to associate their good name with an ‘Indie’ background. Likewise, some readers are under the false impression that only established (or traditional) authors can write and publish great books; for this reason, some people avoid low-cost books like the plague.
For the record: Pricing has nothing to do with your status as an author. A book that sells for 99 cents is sometimes far more profitable than one that sells for $2.99 or higher.
In conclusion, affordable books are sometimes regarded as being cheap and worthless. Expensive books may be perceived as having more value due to their price. Thankfully this isn’t always true.
Given these inconsistencies and varying mentalities among writers and readers, how are you supposed to know which road to take when it comes to pricing? Below are two different answers that depend on multiple factors.
The reality is that you can’t satisfy everyone. Every product you ship has its audience, and many will praise it while others will detest it. It all depends on how picky, forgiving, open-minded and analytical the reader is.
So, if you’re trying to find the ‘best’ pricing strategy for your books, rest assured that the answer is not straight forward. The solution actually lies on the value you are providing to your readers.
When publishing your book, ask yourself: How much do you think your writing is worth? Would you refund this book if you were a customer? What kind of questions and concerns would you have with it as someone who just read it? If you have any lingering questions or doubts about your product, it is generally wise to take a second look at it.
While you can revise the book yourself, a much better idea is to actually get a fresh set of eyes to look at your work. The person writing the product often overlooks all kinds of errors and inconsistencies, especially after a long day. This can result in providing nothing but thin content or missing crucial points in your book.
Once you’re 100% satisfied with your work, you may opt to price it depending on the value that you, as the writer, feel is appropriate. Did you provide mind-blowing information that is guaranteed to help countless readers out there? If so, price the book at any affordable or expensive tag, by all means.
Summary: Pricing depends on the value of your words.
Potential issues with this: No matter how valuable you consider your book, readers may still disagree and perceive it as ‘just another entry among the big pile.’ This may lead to very poor or terrifying sales. In that case, you will have to work extra hard to promote it through places like social media websites, blogs, forums public events and more.
If you’re heavily into publishing for the money (as most indie authors are) you’ll have to be competitive and match the price of the average book in your niche. This means that no matter how awesome you think your work is, you might have to end up selling it at a much lower price than you would like.
The best way to remain competitive is to search similar books and analyze their prices as well as their overall rank (located within the book’s description page.) This is a quick and neat way of finding out which niches are selling when it comes to just about any topic. This method can also help you uncover how much a book sells based on book genre, which is another important factor to consider.
For example, if you stumble upon a niche that sells most books for $2.99, are not full of reviews and yet its sales rank is low, then you’re in luck. This allows you to earn more money while also selling multiple copies per day. In this case, going with the flow and matching your price based on competition will usually make you some sales. By the way, a “low” sales rank is typically under 20,000 (the lower the number, the better).
Note: Of course, at the end of the day there are still many factors involved, including your book’s overall presentation, how enticing its description is and other small efforts you put into it. For this reason, analyze your competition with a grain of salt.
If All Else Fails, Experiment
Just for the record, I typically follow Answer #2 as opposed to Answer #1 above. However, when the flow starts to fail (or if it never worked very well to begin with) it might be a good idea to experiment with your own pricing. Here is a brief story about my own personal pricing experience to date:
Many of the books I write consist of short romance stories. Personally, I used to price most books at $2.99. Sales were decent for a time — averaging about $20 per book per month between Amazon and B&N — but recently my sales had started to take the plunge. This is rather expected and acceptable as it usually happens with most aging products. When I witnessed a steady decline, however, I started publishing new books at 99 cents instead.
To my surprise, most 99-cent books are actually out-performing those sold for $2.99 during their prime!
For example, there’s a 99-cent book that surpassed 350 copies recently, bringing roughly $125 for the month. Moreover, you can read about a book compilation that sold over 1,800 copies in January also at 99 cents. In February 2013, that same compilation surpassed 2,000 copies, bringing roughly $700.
So as you can see, there’s no need to fret and assume that a lower price automatically equals pennies or peanuts. Furthermore, different pricing affects every book differently and independently. This is based on genre, demand, presentation and so much more.
If you’re primarily after the money, do some basic research as described above and/or play with different price points.
If you take great pride in your words’ value, pricing can range from .99 cents to $9.99 or even higher. Just be prepared to fight the masses and promote your good work if necessary.