A Place in This Life · Pricing · self-publishing · The Joy and Torture of Joshua James

Pricing an Ebook – What’s It Worth?


The subject of ebook pricing has taken on a life of its own. Apple and the Big 6 publishers are trying to keep prices high (i.e., over $9.99 for an ebook). Amazon is working to bring the cost for the same books to under that price point. Then there’s you and me, the indie writers putting our stuffs and junks up on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and Smashwords. What the heck are we supposed to charge for the same pleasure?

Good question. In fact, it’s a vital one to the overall health of your sales. When I first published A Place In This Life on Amazon last year, I charged $2.99. Being a brand new, untried and untested piece of literature, the book sold at a very slow pace. At that point, I wasn’t able to determine whether this was due to its price or its newness.

Enter reading too much about what others have done with their ebook pricing.

My mom had sent me a story about a gal who reduced her ebook price from $2.99 to 99¢. Her sales really picked up. Was it because of the price decrease? Possibly no, because she’d received notice in a Kindle newsletter. The perfect storm of publicity and pricing helped her to achieve goodness all the way around. I followed her lead and reduced my book to the near-free price of 99¢ and started promoting the heck out of it. At Christmas, with everyone receiving Nooks and Kindles as gifts, my sales picked up out of nowhere. I was pleased.

However, my sales weren’t super-stellar and because I wasn’t buying into the Kindle Select program, promotion of my work fell solidly in my lap. I was alone in a sea of low price and taking out my own bullhorn to get the word out. With a book tour and several solid 4- and 5-star reviews, I felt content that readers liked my book no matter the price.

Pricing does matter, though, and because I was gearing up to release my novella, The Joy & Torture of Joshua James, at the tender price of – you guessed it – 99¢, I had to bring A Place In This Life back up to where it had been when first released. The result? It still sells, but not as much and my rankings on Amazon and B&N aren’t as glamorous as they had been. For example, the ebook has lost about 5,000 places in the B&N ranking system from just one month of a higher price. Sigh.

What’s an indie writer to do? I’ve considered lowering A Place In This Life to $1.99, but what do I really want out of this? I want readers to read my book at any price point because it’s a story I want to share. At the end of the day, I realize I won’t have the amazing results of Amanda Hocking or J.A. Konrath, at least for right now. But I can have results no matter my price points and that is worth more than any book royalty can deliver.

If you’re currently in the process of publishing an ebook, visit lulu.com to get more information on what’s the best way to do it and how to distribute it properly.

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