Pricing Your E-book

There is more to consider than profit per download when you put a price tag on your novel.

There is more to consider than profit per download when you put a price tag on your novel.

First of all, a disclaimer: I have no real expertise in marketing novels. I am not claiming I know how to sell books or help you raise sales. What I’m going to do is explain why I’ve priced my novels as I did, and reflect on how those pricing decisions have worked for me. I’m in no way claiming you should do the same or do differently…. I am not one to give advice on this manner, beyond suggesting you might want to consider playing around with pricing (if you’ve self-published,) because you can always change prices back.

I have priced “The Crimson League” at 3 different rates in e-book format. When I first released it, I priced it at $1.99. Sales definitely lagged, but that’s not surprising, considering it was my first novel, I was unknown, and I didn’t have lots of money to throw behind marketing efforts. Eventually, at the advice of a fellow writer who remarked I could make a dollar more in profit by raising the price just a dollar, I raised the price to $2.99. I figured that wasn’t much more to ask of my readers. It was a good decision, because I didn’t see a real drop in the rate of sales after the increase.

99 cents?

In November 2012, I published book two in my trilogy, which meant I needed to make some decisions regarding book one (the aforementioned “Crimson League.”) I scheduled a free promotion for book two from January 7-11, 2013. To help with that giveaway, I decided to reduce book one’s price to 99 cents from January 1-11. I thought it would interest people in my series; I could capitalize on the attention my promotions always garner to help with downloads of BOTH my titles.

It was a really good decision. I sold more copies than normal before the promo started, from January 1-6, and during the promo, my sales increased to a rate I had never seen for my book. Because sales are picking up, I made the decision to keep pricing at 99 cents, at least for the month of January.

Readers? Or Profits?

One reason I decided to extend the sale is because I am interested in increasing my exposure to new readers, more so than in money. With increased numbers of downloads, even if I’m not making much in profit, my work is getting out there and into people’s hands. That’s my focus at this point, the start of my writing career. I would rather make, say, $50 dollars from 150 downloads at 99 cents a pop than more money from fewer downloads at a more expensive selling price.

I guess my point is this: consider what your short-term goals are when pricing your novel. And consider your novel’s situation. Is it the first in a series? A sequel? I’ve heard lots of people saying that for their series novels, they generally price the first book cheaper than the others, as a way to draw readers in and also to guide them to the first one they should be reading (so they don’t mistakenly choose a later installment). I think this a great idea, and when I end my sale, I think I’ll price book one at $1.99 OR raise the price of book two to $3.99. That might be an experiment to try.

Like I said, I’m not averse to trying new pricing strategies. It’s possible I might hit on something that really works, and if I don’t, I can always return prices to what they were before.


9 responses to “Pricing Your E-book

  1. I’m nowhere near publishing, e or otherwise, but the marketing and sales of a book seems a more painful and awkward process than doing editing re-writes!

  2. It’s tough to decide what to price, I know. I’ve done some experimenting myself, but none of my books are in a series yet. My next two books will be, so this post gives me something to consider. Thanks for sharing 🙂

  3. I priced my first book at 99 cents because, like you said, I’m more interested in gaining readers than making large profits. On one hand, my sales are impressive, but on the other a number of reviewers have stated they had low expectations of my book due to its cheap price.

  4. My book that’s launching is a business book. I know I can do a free promo. I’m debating on what to price the ebook at. There is also a downloadable workbook they will receive. My thought is if I price it too low people won’t see the value in it.

    • that’s always the trouble…. it’s so difficult to find the happy medium! you don’t want people devaluing your work if you price it too low. Melissa Foster has written a great blog post about whether 99 cents is too cheap for an ebook…. her site is (I hope that wasn’t a guest post somewhere….)

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