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Hi all,

In Today’s posting, I wanted to talk about pricing your ebook. I know that many self-published authors are engaged in a ‘race to the bottom’ of sorts in an effort to eek out as much money from a book as possible. Someone once told me that I should always price my first book at 99 cents because “why would anyone spend more on a more expensive book when there are 99 cent ones out there?”
Good question. But I would like to say that there are not many other books out there just like my book. To be sure, there are a lot of quality 99 cent books out there. There are even many quality free books out there too. But for me, I know what my own book is worth, which is my first point.

1.) Price your book for what you think people will really pay for it. Everyone wants to get the most bang for their buck, and people are always looking for deals. But at the same time, don’t forget that you get what you pay for. If you purchase a 99 cent book, you’re expecting to read a 99 cent book. I don’t expect it to be great, just average. But if I see someone charging a bit more for their book – and it has good reviews with a good amount of traffic (I like to check the ranking numbers) then I’ll check it out.
2.) You will make more money by selling fewer higher cost books than you will selling more lower price books. Amazon, in particular, gives authors 70% of the profits if their book is priced between $2.99 and $9.99. So I make roughly $2.74 off each book I sell at the 70% rate. Contrast this to the paltry 30% offered to those who sell their book at 99 cents – a meager 30 cents (roughly) per book. So a person with a 99 cent book would have to sell nine books to make almost what I make in one book. One sell is a lot easier than nine.

3.) The flip side is also true. Nine cheap sells are a lot easier than one tough(er) sell. But this is where being smart ties in. Right now I have just one book. So I’ve priced it a bit high, with the idea that eventually I can lower the price. But how can you have your book, your work of blood-sweat-tears that took you a year to write actually have a helpful price while also keeping excited readers? Create a loss leader! Make a short story or two (ten thousand words or so) and price them at 99 cents or free. You don’t need an incredible amount of editing, just some basic formatting work and cover art. People will buy the cheap one, and be drawn into your story, then purchase your more expensive novel. By the way, Lindsey Buroker is an expert on this, check out her multiple 99 cent short stories that helped her get started in the world of self-publishing.

4.) Using a loss leader – This can be especially easy if you have a series. A loss leader is simply when you offer something at free or reduced prices to get someone interested in a product. You see this all the time when credit card companies give you a baseball hat or t-shirt when you sign up for a card. They lose a (small) amount of money on the shirt, but expect to gain more when you rack up big debts on your account.

So you set up your first novel as a cheaper or free introduction to your story, and hope the reader enjoys the story enough to purchase the next installments. Bingo, the ‘free’ book leads to two or three other purchases perhaps? Maybe more if you have multiple series.

What do you guys think about price setting? Is it better to start high then go low or simply stay low? Thoughts?