How Much Do You Charge for an EBook?

Close Liaisons features Mylar balloons and science fiction by Barbara Custer

SF involving balloons and war $1.49

How much should you charge for your eBook? Some folks believe that charging $2.99 and less will result in more sales. The 99-cent novellas will make good publicity, an easy way to get to know an author’s style of writing. If nothing else, it will generate balloon money for the author and publisher. But I know of people who started out at $5.25 for their book, and when they lowered it to $2.99, sales tanked. What’s more, the lower price cut into their royalties.

Amazon likes to recommend prices when I upload Kindle books for myself or for NTD authors.  Basically, anything over $7 or under $3 won’t earn much. However, if you’re charging more for your eBook, you might want to run promos and specials where people can get the book for much less, thus meaning a larger audience. Many variables go into pricing and you might want to consider several things when you price your eBook, especially if you’re selling through multiple distributors.

  • The size of your eBook. If you’ve written a 10,000 word novelette, you’d charge much less than you would for your 80,000 opus magnum. It’s a matter of fairness. Why charge $4.99 for an eBook that would only have twenty pages in print form? It would be like charging someone $20.00 (the cost of a balloon bouquet) for one balloon. In tandem, consider your primary goals, that is, education versus entertainment. People will shell out more money for vital information, such as tips on winter driving and survival then they might for tales about Mylar balloon adventures.
  • Consider what other authors charge for the same size and genre. If you’re charging $10 for a 30,000 word zombie tale, but other authors are charging $1.99 for the same type of book, yours won’t sell many copies. If you’re only selling off your own website, you might have more leeway with price. My experience has been that most people prefer shopping through Amazon or Barnes & Noble over a private website. Why? If you shop on the NTD website, you’ll need a PayPal account, which requires a password. For that reason, I always provide links to Amazon, Smashwords, and Barnes & Noble. Most seller websites involve setting up an account and a password. It’s easier to remember one password (Amazon) than tracking different passwords for multiple websites.
  • What are your plans for your book? If your work is a 10,000-word novelette, it can serve as an intro to your larger, more expensive works. Most folks won’t mind shelling out 99 cents for such a story. Your book—and your ideas—will fall into more hands. If they like your work, you’ve got more potential buyers for your larger stories. If you don’t have a 99-cent eBook, you might want to create one. Your entry-level priced eBook will give readers a chance to know your work.
  • How large is your following? If you’re anything like Stephen King or Jonathan Maberry, your publisher might sell your eBooks for $10 each and more. That’s because both authors have dedicated fans who love their writing so much that they’ll gladly pay that to read their fiction. If you’re pitching to total strangers, they’ll balk, especially if they see other books of the same genre sell for $3.99.

You might consider having a list price but discount that price from time to time. This way, you’ll drive more interest in your books. No price is ever set in stone, and because the eBook world is constantly changing, you should evaluate your prices from time to time.

Your thoughts?

Blue Plate Special is zombie novel by Harold Kempka

Tidbits of horror for $2.99

About Barbara Custer

Author of: Twilight Healer Steel Rose Life Raft: Earth City of Brotherly Death Close Liaisons Infinite Sight When Blood Reigns Infinite Sight Publisher / Editor of Night to Dawn Books & Magazine
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6 Comments

  1. Wendy L. Callahan

    For me, I’ve found that $3.99 is the current sweet spot, especially for a 3-novel bundle I currently have available. At first, I had it priced at $2.99. I thought raising the price would cut sales, but they only increased.

    It really is important to be logical about pricing. I’ve seen novels priced at $7.99-$9.99 and I must admit if it is not by someone who is a “big name” and whose books I’ve read and loved, I just won’t pay that for an ebook (though 99% of my purchases are hardcovers and paperbacks anyway).

    When it comes to a new name/debut author, no matter how prolific, I am very finicky about what I will pay for an ebook, and length is definitely a factor in my decision.

    • I agree. I’ve seen some publishers charge almost as much for an eBook as they would for a paperback, in which case I’d just get the paperback. I think though that some publishers charge more because they think they’ll recoup the money they might have paid to distribute the book. I’d be a little reluctant to pay more than $5.00. 🙂 Barbara of the Balloons

  2. When I first began publishing, I decided to price my ebooks for about the same amount as a genre paperback book at an outlet like Wal-Mart of the grocery store or drugstore. (Which, frankly, are now about the only places in my region to buy new paperbacks. All the brick-and-mortar bookstores are gone – even Borders, which was the last holdout.) I chose to price my novels at $3.99, with occasional sales and giveaways to attract new readers. Anthologies (which are priced by the publisher, not by me) sell for about $2.99. This has worked out very well, and I’m glad I made the choices I did. However, it is important to add that if a book is not of high quality, it’s not going to sell well over the long run, no matter how it’s priced.

    • So true. There is the writing / editing / plotting to consider, but also the cover because the cover is the first thing that catches the reader’s eye. Designing covers isn’t my strongest suit, so I count myself blessed to have good illustrators. Barbara of the Balloons 🙂

  3. I’m money conscious, and I think other eBook buyers are too. I’ve bought 30k word eBooks before for $5.99, thinking it was a full novel. I didn’t do it again. If I pay that much for an eBook, I want my money’s worth, and there are some darn good full-length novels out there for $2.99 to $4.99, so why pay $5.99 for a novelette? I’ve seen eBooks priced almost as high as the paperback version, and have to shake my head. Why buy the eBook when I can get the real book for a few pennies more. My own novel with First Realm is priced $6.99 for eBook and $11.xx for paperback. I didn’t price them. Personally, I think $4.99 would have been a better price range for the eBook, but I’m not the publisher. Crazy pricing, if you ask me. I’m a book collector and buy rare paperback and hardback novels for under $5.00. So, again, I’m going to pay for the best deal, and not drop a fortune for an eBook, whether the author is Stephen King or Jonathan Maberry, or John Smith.

    • My Steel Rose is priced on the high side, too, so I bought contributor copies that I sold locally for a more competitive price. I think it depends on the distributor the publisher uses. When I started out, I used Lulu, and my books were overpriced. Different story with CS. I too have seen some eBooks sell for pennies less than the paperback. I never understood that. Barbara of the Balloons 🙂

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