Eight months into this self-publishing thing and I’m still figuring it out. Each release teaches me a little more but in some ways I still feel like I’m floundering and unsure of what I should do.
Pricing is one of those things. Because Amazon is my biggest seller, I have to follow their guidelines. In order to get the 70% royalty rate, I have to price stories between $2.99 and $9.99. Just so you know, the author is only getting 35% royalty rates on those $0.99 and $1.99 books you buy.
There are two schools of thought when it comes to pricing eBooks. Well, probably more than just two, but there are two major ones. This blog post does a pretty good job at going into an in depth discussion of it. It’s one of many, many blog posts/articles/discussions I’ve taken into consideration. One school of thought is that basically the book should be priced as low as possible to bring in the largest number of readers. The idea is that the loss of money per sale will be made up by the increased volume of sales. The other is that books should have value and you should price according to that. Isn’t it worth spending money on something that will take you hours to read?
I’ve seen the comparision to fancy-shmancy coffee drinks saying that since people are willing to pay $3-5 for a latte that they’ll drink in 15 minutes they should be willing to pay for a book will last them 6.5 hours. Those numbers don’t really apply to me personally. I bought a frozen latte with a raw sugar and extra shot of espresso in it for $4.87 this morning. It’s been 45 minutes and I’m only halfway through with it and it’ll probably take me the full hour and a half to drink it. An average novel takes me 2 hours to read. I won’t pretend most people are either that slow at drinking coffee or that fast at reading, but it does point out the way people assign value. Most days I try to bring coffee from home anyway (so I can save money to buy more books!) but I do enjoy the occasional latte from my local coffee place. The baristas make killer lattes and are cute and sometimes flirty. There are times that having someone remember my face and order and give me a big grin is worth $5, especially first thing on a Monday morning!
I thought the image above was interesting though. Time invested is something to consider. My next release is Partners, the follow up to Equals, and will be roughly 41,000 words. I’ve been working on it since July and it will release in September. In order to create that book, there’s planning, research, writing, feedback, editing, blurb writing, cover image making, marketing, etc. Yeah, I don’t even know how many hours go into a story like that. And the novels I’m working on right now are nowhere near done and I’m at least a year in, so the two year mark for a novel isn’t so far out, especially for ones that require a lot of reasearch.
My short stories were priced at $2.99 for around 10,000-15,000 words and the Wine Tasting Series is a collection of three of them and comes in around 36,000 words. If you buy all three individually, they cost $8.97 so pricing them at $5.99 seemed very reasonable. When I released Equals, I priced it at $5.99 as well which seemed logical for a 48,000 word novella. Equals did well. Very well. I sold nearly twice as many eBooks as I had in previous months, even taking into consideration that I didn’t release anything in June.
But when I thought about what I should charge for the novels I will release eventually, I realized $7.99 did seem a little high for something that will probably be in the 80,000 word range. If I scaled back and charged $6.99, $5.99 for a novella at half the length seemed a little bit high. So I am giving it a try. I dropped the prices of the Wine Tasting Series and Equals to $4.99 and will price Partners the same when it comes out.
Hopefully the roughly $3.49 I get in royalties for each sale (instead of $4.19 I have been getting) will be made up for in increased sales volume. I don’t really know. It’s an experiment.
The advantage of going through a publisher is that they take care of all of that. They set the prices and save you the headache. The beauty of self-publishing is that I can discover what works best. I have the flexibility to explore my options when I want.
My question to you is, what do you consider a reasonable price for a short story? For a novella? For a novel?