Saturday, 5 October 2013

What Would You Pay For A Book? What Do You Charge For A Book?

I’ve always had views about book pricing. I won’t buy a book priced at $0.99, because if that’s all it’s actually worth, then it’s not worth my time. The exception is a book on sale at $0.99 – in principle, anyway, because I still don’t think I’ve ever bought in that case either. 

$2.99 is another favourite price point because that gets the writer the 70% royalty offered by Amazon, but still, it’s an awfully cheap price for the amount of effort that actually goes into a book. 
I’ve long believed that selling books too cheaply results in them being undervalued by readers. There is anecdotal evidence than readers don’t value free books – many people collect free books and never read them, probably because something they’ve paid for always takes priority. There’s been no real expenditure of effort for a free book, so it can wait.

My opinion was somewhat vindicated when I saw some people questioning why a medical text was being offered for the price of $99 – I suspect they were spoiled by cheap ebook prices on Amazon, as well as having no clue about intellectual property.

I have been harbouring the hope that eventually readers would cotton on to the fact that you get what you pay for, and start avoiding $0.99 books as assiduously as I do in favour of something priced a little higher and hopefully of a better quality.

Then I read this article, by Dean Wesley Smith -

The author has strong opinions about pricing, and even offers a suggested pricing structure. He’s been around the traps a bit, having published over a hundred novels in thirty years and hundreds and hundreds of short stories across many genres. He wrote a couple dozen Star Trek novels, the only two original Men in Black novels, Spider-Man and X-Men novels, plus novels set in gaming and television worlds. He also co-wrote the novel for the NBC miniseries The Tenth Kingdom, and wrote novelisations of a dozen films, from The Final Fantasy to Steel to Rundown.

The article is worth reading, but if you don’t have the time, this is his suggested pricing structure in a nutshell:
— Novels

  • Front list, meaning brand new. Over 50,000 words. $7.99
  • Shorter front list novels, meaning 30,000 to 50,000 words. $6.96
  • Backlist novels, meaning already published by a traditional publisher. $6.99

— Short Books

  • Short books, meaning stories from 8,000 words to 30,000 words. $3.99

— Short Stories

  • Short stories … 4,000 to 8,000 words. $2.99
  • Short stories under 4,000 double with another bonus story… $2.99

— Collections

  • 5 stories $4.99
  • 10 stories $7.99

I like his prices. I’d pay them, as a reader, but then I’m coming from the perspective of an Australian reader, conditioned to pay $22 for a trade paperback , so these prices are still cheap as chips. Hell, $9.99 is cheap as chips.

There is a sweet spot for pricing, but that doesn't mean
everything should be priced there - for example, a
short story priced at $9.99 probably wouldn't sell much.
Your prices need to match what you're selling!
I think these prices are fair, but I’m not convinced that many readers, still spoiled by abysmally low book prices, will yet pay them – although I still hope that in the future they will.

I’ve just released my novella, Confronting the Demon, which I had originally planned to price at $1.99. This article suggests $3.99. I compromised at $2.99, and decided to see what happened, and use this as a guideline to pricing future books. It’s still early days as yet, but I’m getting upwards of 15 clickthroughs to the Amazon store each day, but usually no sales from that. I’m getting people to the book page, but they aren’t buying. Is it the price? Or something else?

So tell me what you think:
  • Would you pay the suggested prices? If not, why not?
  • Would you pay $2.99 for a novella including a bonus short story (totalling 30,000 words)?
  • What do you think is a fair price for ebooks?
  • How do you price your ebooks?
I’ll be signing copies of Confronting the Demon at the IndieVengeance Day Book Signing in Dallas, Saturday, October 12, 2013 from 1:00 PM to 5:00 PM (CDT). Register here -

Blurb - Confronting the Demon

The gates to hell are thrown wide when Alloran is betrayed by his best friend, Ladanyon, and framed for forbidden magic. He is hunted by the guards and the wizards both, tormented by the gruesome murder of his friends and loved ones, and crippled by fear for the living. Now Alloran must face his demons, or damn the woman he loves.

A Magical Melody

When a lethal spell is stolen from a locked and warded room, Avram must hunt down the thief before the song of power buries a city of innocents beneath a thousand tons of ice.
Links to Buy Confronting the Demon - How would you like to read?

Trade Paperback

On my Kindle

On my computer

Coming soon on Nook, Kobo, and Apple devices.

If you enjoyed this post, please feel free to check out my previous posts if you haven't already. If you're finding yourself here often, you might as well join as a member, sign up to the blog through RSS or email, or sign up for the newsletter. 
Don't forget to share the love and spread the word on Twitter, Facebook or StumbleUpon (or other social networking site of your choice) if you know other people who might also enjoy this.

Thanks for stopping by and visiting with us.


Julia Barrett said...

His pricing structure is great, but I have my doubts as to whether or not readers will pay-- at least not yet. My short stories are $.99. Yes, I put work into them but if I charge anymore than that readers complain. I suspect as Indie authors are increasingly accepted and respected we will be able to raise our prices without a second thought.

mooderino said...

I'm not sure people do equate price with quality when it comes to art. Even if a painting sells for a million dollars you might not fancy it on your wall. The same book can be free from a library, $20 hardback and $1.99 from the charity shop, doesn't equate to anything meaningful.

I do understand what you're getting at, but mostly I think it's based on what you're familiar with, and the world is prone to change without taking familiarity into account. After all, $7.99 is no more a fair price for a year's work than 0.99c. The assumption a set amount will be sold or that you need so many sales to turn a profit or be a bestseller are all out the window. In fact the old paradigm was mostly propped up by a few distributors having a monopoly and fixing the price between them. Something they're still trying to do as seen in the latest court rulings against them.

I'm not saying things are fine as is, but transition creates flux. What I am sure of though is that it won't go back to how it was. The framework just isn't there and the market can now genuinely indicate what's acceptable (which may be more than it is now, or it could be even less), not some privileged men in big offices who think they know best.

Ciara Ballintyne said...

I see what you're getting at, but I'm not sure books are comparable to art. More... comparable to movies. Also, I might not like Picasso, but I understand why he was acclaimed. There is a difference between subjectively liking something and objectively recognisng that the artist or author is skilled or talented, and that's more what I meant by quality. I do know some readers who have the same impressions as I do from price.

As for a fair price for a year's work... I'm not even going there. A fair price for a year's work can't even be a consideration when pricing because the market simply wouldn't bear it.

I am certain things won't go back to how they were. What I don't know is where the market is going.

Ciara Ballintyne said...

That was pretty much where my feelings were going. Currently I don't think the indie reputation is strong enough to overcome reader expectations regarding indie prices.

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...
Real Time Analytics