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A Word on Ebook Pricing – Where’s the Sweet Spot?

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by Nick Stephenson in Books and Writing

First off, it’s worth remembering that there’s no one-size-fits-all answer when it comes to book marketing – other than to say that pricing is an important part of any author’s overall strategy. Personally, life would be much easier if there were a clear “market price” for books, but we all know that’s not the case – especially not for ebooks. Prices range from free to $20+ and nobody has (so far) been able to provide a definitive answer on what works best – in fact, most people can’t even agree what “best” even is – and that all depends on whether you’re looking for more readers or more revenue. It’s all a giant crap shoot. In the dark. With a gun to your head. And crocodiles.

Fortunately, it’s easy enough to do a little experimenting for yourself. Price changes at most major retailers go through within hours, so it’s pretty straightforward to test the market without exposing yourself to too much risk. So that’s what I’ve been up to in the last few months, and I figured some of you out there in author-land might be interested in some numbers.

I’ve tried three major price points in the last three months; $2.99, $3.99, and $4.99. I’m currently experimenting with $4.99 on 2 of my novels, leaving the first novel in the series at $3.99 and a novella at $2.99. I also have a box set of the first 2 of my novels priced at $6.99. I’ve found that this blend of prices has worked best overall – pricing the shorter work at $2.99, and the first novel at $3.99 with the others at $4.99 and the box set at $6.99. For those strange people who like charts, here’s how my overall daily sales and daily revenue were affected:

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sales vs price

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Here’s a breakdown:

  • With all single titles at $2.99 and the box set at $4.99 my average daily sales were 33 copies. Average daily revenue was $69.
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  • Keeping the novella at $2.99, moving all the novels up to $3.99 and the box set up to $5.99, my average daily sales went up to 39 copies, with average daily revenue of $97.
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  • Increasing the price of the latest 2 novels to $4.99 and the box set to $6.99 led to average daily sales of 47 copies and an average daily revenue of $163.

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Interesting… I had expected overall sales to go down after raising my prices, but the opposite seems to have happened. It’s early days yet for the $4.99 price point, and my data-set is hardly definitive, but initial signs are good. It’s also worth noting that sales ranks on the books have stayed roughly the same or slightly improved since prices went up, suggesting that the new pricing structure seems to be working. So far.

But, like with anything in this game, things can change overnight. The only advice I’d give is that you should take a look at what other books in your genre are selling for and try to edge towards the upper end of the midlist. I would avoid looking in the top 100 overall and focus on the authors with a solid presence in the more popular subgenres – Crime Thrillers, for example. You’ll probably find some genres are priced differently – Romances tend to be a little cheaper, and Fanstasy books are almost always more expensive. Take a look and see what you can find.

I based my move to $3.99 and $4.99 on some of the top-selling Thomas & Mercer authors – and who better to model pricing on than Amazon themselves? Makes perfect sense to me.

How about you? I’d love to hear from you in the comments about what price points work for you as an author – and, as readers, how much are you happy to pay for an ebook, and what drives you to hit “buy now”? Just drop a comment below and I’ll look forward to passing off your thoughts and opinions as my own…

If you want a step-by-step guide to getting started on your email list, go download “Reader Magnets”. This free ebook will show you how to put this process in place and start building your email list – click below to grab your copy:

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