Price Adjustment

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?

5 thoughts on “Price Adjustment

  1. I don’t normally read novellas – only from authors I know or love. Like you. 🙂 And, because of that criteria, I’ll pay anything. For a full-length novel, I don’t like to go over $4.99 for a ebook, but, again, for must-read authors, I’ve been known to pay as much as $15 for an ebook. So, I guess, for me, it’s more about who is writing it than the actual book itself. Which is, of course, no help to you at all when trying to price for the general population. 🙂


    • Pricing a novel at $4.99 seems crazy to me, given how much work goes into one. And I say that as a writer AND voracious reader. To keep within Amazon’s pricing framework I’d have to charge $2.99 for short stories, $3.99 for novellas, and $4.99 for novels. I may eventually do that, but it seems strange to me to value books that low.


      • Oh, I hear you! It’s funny how my opinion of ebook prices has changed since writing my own. Totally different opinion on this side of the fence now. I’m sure we all feel like they are worth a few hundred bucks by the time we’re done – or more. But… no one would buy them. I think I actually paid $15.00 for my first ebook but since then, I’ve learned to shop around, wait for sales, etc.


  2. I price my stuff much lower, usually $2.99 to $3.99. Basically, I model my prices on “mainstream” romance. Sure, big names (like Nora Roberts, for example) will price their books at $7.99 or higher, but little known writers (like me) are more in the $2.99-$4.99 range for full length novels (60k). Romance, as a genre, has lower prices overall, probably due to the voracity of its readers. Other genres, like sci-fi or thrillers, are priced slightly higher overall.

    I also think about what I’d be willing to pay as a reader, and I am not too happy paying $6.99 for a book that I will finish in one night. Believe me, I understand the work involved and I appreciate the author’s time and talent – but at those prices I could easily have a $50 per week book habit! Generally, I choose books under $5, or I get them from the library. I never pay more than .99 for a short story, so I don’t charge more. Likewise, I wouldn’t pay more than $3 for a novella, so that is what I charge. The only time I feel comfortable paying more is if I am already familiar with the author and know that I will be getting a good product. Especially in m/m, there are a lot of overpriced books out there and I’ve been disappointed too many times.

    Another issue is the “$2.99=self-published” mentality. Some readers will pick up a higher priced book, assuming it is a traditionally published (aka “better”) product, and ignore the $2.99 offerings, assuming they are not “worth it”. I don’t mourn the loss of those readers.

    Amazon has a neat tool, the “KDP Price Support” service, which will give an idea of how to price your book, and how changing prices might change sales. It’s worth a look, at least. I hope your price changes work out for you! I agree, one of the best things about self-publishing is the flexibility it offers. And if this doesn’t work out, you can always switch back to the higher price 🙂


    • I certainly see many of your points and I think they’re good ones. I guess I AM willing to pay $6.99/book if I think it’s a good one however. Granted, I balance that out with less expensive ones so I’m not spending $50/week on books, but if the author’s work is worth it, I’m happy to pay it.

      I hadn’t played with the KDP Price Support option before so I will check that out. Thanks for the suggestion. I’ll see how it plays out and go from there.


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