I got some queries on a shorter blog on this subject, so the following might help to flesh out this problem on pricing.
You, as the author, must decide on the price. Clearly you want to maximize your income. The price you set looms large in this ambition. So, think carefully on this question of price. Set it too high and reader resistance becomes a factor. Set it too low and there will be a feeling that it can’t be any good at that price. That is your dilemma.
Then there is the emotional run of things that you, the writer, brings into your decision. ‘Spent three good years writing this novel and it’s a damn good read. Therefore I will demand a high price’. Wonderful. All very understandable, a reaction like that. But the problem is that the buyers out there are not at all exercised by the thought that you spent three years writing the thing. All right, so the world is unfair. Nobody understands you: and you steeped in genius! The buyer is largely focusing down on price. Yes, if you are a well known writer you can expect a high price for your latest creation. But, if you are unknown, as a writer, no matter how wonderful the writing or what extraordinary epic you have produced, you need to grub down into the reality on pricing – and set your price at a lower level than an established writer can demand. If, in time, you make it into the big sale numbers, at that stage you can increase your price.
EBooks, compared to their printed cousins, are cheap to produce. Readers expect such electronic books to be cheaper. Whether you agree with this or not it is a fact. So don’t try to compare prices: an eBook is a different product.
There is one enormous benefit to eBook authors in all of this. Other that those printed books sold through outlets like Amazon, printed books are limited in reaching potential buyers by the number of shops stocking the books, and indeed by the positioning of the books on the shelves. And the shelf life of a printed book can be very short. If it is not generating sales it can quickly be withdrawn and returned to the publisher. EBooks have the potential of reaching readers across the world and they do not suffer the threat of a short shelf space.
So, you finally make the decision to go the eBook route. Great. So, what about the price?
Amazon is interesting on this question of price. If you price your book somewhere between $2.99 and $9.99 you get to keep 70% of the price. This is far more than you would ever get for a printed work. So, a low price for an eBook offers the prospect of giving you a higher return than a higher priced printed book.
Above the price of $9.99, or indeed at a price lower than $2.99, your take drops to 35%. There is little reason to go into why this is so – it is just the case. So, for best returns, on balance, it seems good sense not to drift higher on price than $9.99. As an aside, non-fiction books can expect to get higher prices as they are not so price-sensitive.
As in many aspects of life things are never straight. In this matter of pricing, some writers claim that when they set their price low that they got few sales, but that when they raised their prices more books were sold. Anyone like to explain that?
American readers appear to be more sensitive to pricing. You should consider this if you intend to aim at the USA market.
At the end of your head-rattling in trying to come up with a suitable price it still seems best to settle somewhere between $2.99 and $9.99. Midway between these prices might be a place to look at. But something else you should be aware about in this matter of price – although you may set a price that seems reasonable, Amazon, Apple and others, may set the price higher or lower on their platforms. Welcome to the mysteries of business!
In the end it is your call on a decision on pricing and I wish you all success on your decision.