Indie Author Series: Book Pricing

The YA Author Club has a LOT going on right now! Several of our members (including myself) have new releases coming out, so keep watching for those. You might notice when you click through the links this week that some of our pages aren’t quite up to date with this week’s topic of book pricing. I figure you’ll forgive us since most of our readers would rather see what’s hot and new this summer in YA. But for those of you who are searching for a little advice on how to price your books, or are just wondering how on earth we decide whether a book should be free or $3.99, here’s my take on the subject.

Cost Analysis
An author spends months, maybe years, getting a book ready to sell. First, we poor ourselves into writing the darn thing. Then, we edit and revise (hopefully) followed by paying someone to edit it so that we can revise it some more. Next, many of us will pay someone to design our cover. For Seen this was actually a multi-step process. I first paid an artist to do the art, then paid a photographer to take high quality photos of the art. Then, I sent it all to my cover designer who turned it into the final product. A lot of authors will then pay someone to format their documents so that they look nice in all the different ereader apps. Finally, we pay for advertising materials like bookmarks, postcards, maybe even some awesome book swag. All out of our own pocket before the book is even in your hands only to find that we can hardly GIVE the book away. I’m not talking about bad books, either. GREAT books go through this same process in the indie world. It’s heartwrenching and bank account draining. Seriously.

So, how does an indie author go about pricing their masterpiece? Let’s look at some options.

Free Isn’t Free
When I first started downloading ebooks I went nuts for all the free books out there. I downloaded several a day for weeks, filling up my iphone with dozens of classics – and a whole lot of crap. I’m sure you can relate. In the end I went back and deleted most of them without even reading them. Now it makes me sad to find a book with a great cover and a clever story concept only to discover the author was too lazy, too cheap, or too self-indulgent to have it properly edited. I’m not even talking about typos, people. There is so much that goes into good editing besides proper grammar and spelling. I don’t get angry when I read a poorly written ebook that was clearly self-published, I just want to call the poor author and say, “Here, honey, let me help you. Let’s not waste any more of your fabulous ideas on bad writing.”

But I can’t do that because it sounds condescending. So, instead I did what a lot of readers did and stopped downloading free books. Now I spend a little more on my books, especially since I have such precious little reading time available. This is why I say, free books aren’t free. They’re usually a waste of my time.

99cents is the New Free
So, if a good author has poured actual money into their work and believes it to be valuable, you can see why they may not want to throw it in the free book bin at Amazon. They want to be taken seriously, right? (Let’s just pretend KDP Select doesn’t exist here, okay? That’s a whole other mess.)

The next best option must be 99cents! Well… not necessarily. I mean, sure, we all love a good bargain. But there are a few reasons why you might not put your book at this lowest price point.

For example, if you’re looking to get back the money you put into the book, you might decide to price it higher to take advantage of the higher royalties. For those of you who aren’t aware, Amazon offers a higher royalty percentage to those who price their ebooks between $2.99 and $9.99.  This is a difficult decision, because you don’t want to price your book so high that no one buys it, but you want to make the most money possible for all your hard work. This is why we see many more books being listed at $2.99. It’s the compromising price point.

Also, many readers consider books priced at 99cents to be in the same quality category as free books. I don’t always agree, but that is still a growing attitude. Personally, I consider 99cents an excellent sales price if the book is normally priced higher. Also, I love the trend of pricing the first book in a series at 99cents (or even free) if the subsequent books are priced higher. This makes sense to me both as a reader and as a writer. It allows readers to try our work with minimal risk in the hopes that they’ll enjoy what they see and come back for more. That, my friends, is a win-win.

Wonder what other indie authors think about book pricing? Check out the blog links below from the fabulous authors at the YA Author Club.

1. Laura A. H. Elliott 2. Bryna Butler, author Midnight Guardian series
3. T. R. Graves, Author of The Warrior Series 4. Suzy Turner, author of The Raven Saga
5. Rachel Coles, author of Into The Ruins, geek mom blog 6. K. C. Blake, author of Vampires Rule and Crushed
7. Gwenn Wright, author of Filter 8. Liz Long | Just another writer on the loose.
9. Ella James 10. Maureen Murrish
11. YA Sci Fi Author’s Ramblings 12. A Little Bit of R&R
13. Melissa Pearl 14. Terah Edun – YA Fantasy
15. Heather Sutherlin – YA Fantasy 16. Melika Dannese Lux, author of Corcitura and City of Lights

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