Just a thread on epub price setting.

Discussion in 'Publishing' started by SeverinR, Feb 3, 2012.

  1. SeverinR

    SeverinR Valar Lord

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    Refering to the
    How to Publish an eBook — Publishing on Amazon
    How to Publish an eBook - Publishing on Amazon

    Love this article.


    paraphrased: 2.99-9.99 priced books get 70% royalties, all else get 35%.

    For a first book, wouldn't it be worth selling at .99, so more people will read it?
    It might be the book of the year, but if no one reads it...
    One person mentions free, but I looked at a few free books and was not impressed.

    Of course length of the novel would also be considered, a 10(written) page story would not be worth 2.99. But then again a epic novel of 400(written)pages might be a rough sell at .99.


    btw: this is a good thread to read if thinking about e pub.
    http://mythicscribes.com/forums/publishing/1838-announcing-my-dive-into-epublishing.html


    Maybe Epub should be a sub-forum? It would be easier to find the discussions and prevent common questions from being repeated? (I did search before I posted this.)
     
  2. JCFarnham

    JCFarnham Dark Lord

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    I've seen much testimonial in magizines from people who have made supposedly significant amounts of money from selling at .99.

    I only have a Marketing degree to go on and no real personal experience so take my thoughts with a pinch of salt, but the theory goes one should be able to strike a balance between price and amount of units (books) sold, where you can sell something for next to nothing, shift a lot of books, and make more money than if it was offered for more and sold less.

    The trick is to do research on your target market. If most authors in your area manage 2.99+ then you may find you could offer cheaper if you're confident enough in your work and quality of advertising. Of course you could also price match and have about as much luck... It all depends on what you believe is best for your work, because the old adage goes that "with the right marketing you can sell almost anything to anyone".

    Of course, if a product is sold for almost nothing people tend to wonder what's wrong with it. 2.99 or something there abouts is typically a good place to start at for a novel length work. If you find its not selling you have a couple of options, step up your advertising and such, or reduce the price.

    A short story I would probably price at somewhere between free and .70-.99 depending on whether you believe you have a good enough fan base already.
     
  3. Benjamin Clayborne

    Benjamin Clayborne Dark Lord

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    Most humans suffer from a cognitive bias (whose name escapes me at the moment) that more expensive things are automatically better because they're more expensive. Experiments have been done where, for example, people are given a piece of food (e.g. a chocolate) and told how much it costs. They are then told to eat it, and then write down how good they thought it was. People who are told it's more expensive (e.g. fancy truffles that are two dollars apiece) routinely rate it as better quality, even when it's the exact same chocolate as those who were told it cost five cents.

    So it's entirely possible that selling something cheaper will make people think that it's not as good. "If your book really is good, why are you only selling it for $0.99?" And you may actually sell fewer copies because people shun it. But raise the price, and suddenly the demand goes up -- and since $5.99 for a book is still well within peoples' budgets, they'll be more likely to buy it.

    There are other factors, of course; if there's no associated marketing giving them the idea that this is book was written by a professional author, if the cover looks crappy, etc., then the above may be entirely thwarted.
     
  4. JCFarnham

    JCFarnham Dark Lord

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    Another quick thought while I'm thinking about it:

    In the current economic climate of thrifty spending and budget cuts, it might be worth erring on the side of cheapness. More so than in previous years, books have more or less become luxury items ("more or less" being factors like poor/rich areas, etc.) so you could arguably get away with low prices more easily.

    As I said, as long as I had a couple of free/.70-.99 short stories under my belt along with a decent social media presence I would price a novel at 2.99. I'm forever buying books at that price myself thinking "why the hell not?" but by the time prices get toward 6 or 7 pounds I'm not going to touch it. It something is free however, I'd probably be more likely to buy it if I either know the person, they have like a podcast or I like the "intellectual" opinions they have.
     
  5. Telcontar

    Telcontar Staff Moderator

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    If you're an unknown author, I would suggest at least considering the .99 price point. It makes it far, far more likely that your book will be the subject of 'impulse buys.' Which also makes it likely that your book will at least be looked at. With the usual assumption that you right well, that's all you need - get their eyes on your pages! Get them reading your words!

    Once you have a bit more notoriety, then worry about pricing to supply and demand. First, though, generate demand.

    As to the "Low Price Might Make it Seem Cheap" argument... yeah. There is a lot of merit in that. However, as mentioned above, I think it it still more likely that you will net readers by pricing low, unless maybe you market well in other ways.
     
  6. MichaelSullivan

    MichaelSullivan Scribal Lord

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    I think too many new authors short change themselves by using $0.99. When I started self publishing I priced my books at $4.95 for the first 4 books and $6.95 for the fifth one...NO ONE has ever complained to me about the price of my books and I get tons of people thanking me for "making them so affordable.

    If you have multiple books - then price one cheaply and have the others at "a resonable price" - nothing over $5 is what I classify as reasonable.
     
  7. MichaelSullivan

    MichaelSullivan Scribal Lord

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    I don't buy this...it may be they have multiple books and one (or a few) are at $0.99 but on $0.99 you only make $0.34 a book. If you consider $50,000 a year as "decent" money then you have to be selling 147,000 books a year or 12,254 a month - for the whole year! At the HEIGHT of my self-publishing I was selling 11,500 a month and that was across 5 titles. On the flip side I made over $100,000 in four months by using a $4.95 and $6.95 pricing. I can count just a few authors that have sold at this kind of volume and with the exception of one (Victorine Lieskie) they have more than one book and usually some at a higher price. (John Locke being an exception here as he has sold more than 1,000,000 at $0.99 - but that is an outlier for sure.

    Bottom line...if you have only one book out...then you really aren't going to make much money no matter what price poitn you set. I would put it on the high side and work on writing more. Once you get to 3 or 4 books then put the first one down low and keep the others high to indicate a good product"

    I only have a Marketing degree to go on and no real personal experience so take my thoughts with a pinch of salt, but the theory goes one should be able to strike a balance between price and amount of units (books) sold, where you can sell something for next to nothing, shift a lot of books, and make more money than if it was offered for more and sold less.
     
  8. MichaelSullivan

    MichaelSullivan Scribal Lord

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    People should experiment with price - and I did and saw EXACTLY this happen. I had been selling my books for $4.95 or $6.95 and I started drinking the Joe Konrath koolaid that $2.99 was the "right price" so I tried lowering my price...I actually not only made less money but sold less books!! I experimented with both $2.99 and $.99 and sold less books at those prices than at $4.95. After three weeks of experimenting - I returned to $4.95 and guess what - my volume increased!! I estimate that I lost about $10,000 during the experiment - but it was worth trying.
     
  9. MichaelSullivan

    MichaelSullivan Scribal Lord

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    You can't do $0.70 cents on Amazon or B&N - $0.99 is the lowest - but I do agrree that $0.99 is a good price for a single short story - of $2.99 for a collection of shorts.
     
  10. MichaelSullivan

    MichaelSullivan Scribal Lord

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    I've (or more importantly my wife the Engineer) has studied and played with pricing quite a bit. I'm pretty sure there are two groups of people. The "cheap pool" - which is rather big and won't buy anything over $2.99. I think a lot of the books sold to these people go unread as they collect them like pebbles on the beach and always have more to read than they can....but there are a lot of them and if you market right to them you can get some high # of sales.

    The second group is smaller and shuns the $2.99 and would ONLY buy a book priced at that level if it is a "sale" from a big-publisher. Like right now Mr. Norrell and Dr. Strange is on sale for $2.99 and price and both Harper Collins and Orbit had some big names (Abercrombie, Weeks, Hobbs) on sale for $0.99 - $2.99 from Christmas until just a few days ago. These people genearlly buy at $7.99 and are buying name brands. If you price at $4.95 it is a "bargin" for them but not so cheap that they look at it cock-eyed. When selling to this population - it is IMPERATIVE that you don't look like a self-publshed book (use an imprint name...have an excellent cover etc). I would say that 99.9% of my buyers when I was self-published had no idea they were because the imprint said "Ridan Publishing" and the covers looked as good (or better) than anything coming out of New York.
     
  11. Benjamin Clayborne

    Benjamin Clayborne Dark Lord

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    Any thought about pricing for short stories? I've got two on Amazon now, for $0.99 each. At ~5k and ~9k words respectively, I can't really imagine charging more than that, and of course Amazon won't let me charge less. My eventual plan for those, when I've got enough, is to collect them into an omnibus and sell it for a higher price.
     
  12. zizban

    zizban Lore Master

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    The ebook market is still in flux. No one has any idea what the ideal price will be when the dust settles. One thing to remember is that printing and distribution are only 10% of the cost of a book so people who say "The price shouldn't be X because they dont have to print and ship the book" don't have a clue what they're talking about.

    If you don't like the price of an ebook, complain to the publisher.
     
  13. JCFarnham

    JCFarnham Dark Lord

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    Hmm, I swear I saw something priced at like 77p... well I never. Thanks for the information. As I said, I've no true experience in self-publishing or anything like that. I know a lot of theory, but when has that ever worked for the vast majority of us ahah. Your knowledge is valuable.

    Michael: When you say you used an "imprint name", do you mean you stuck something that looked like a publishing house name on the product even though it was you doing it by yourself? That's an interesting thought! Anything to get that professional look I suppose :D
     
  14. Benjamin Clayborne

    Benjamin Clayborne Dark Lord

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    77p = 77 pence ~= 99 cents. You can have prices with numbers below "0.99", just not in US dollars. ;-)
     
  15. JCFarnham

    JCFarnham Dark Lord

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    Ah now that make infinitely more sense! I really should have considered the exchange rate before opening my mouth ;)
     
  16. MichaelSullivan

    MichaelSullivan Scribal Lord

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    I know that Barry Eisler was selling his - and selling well at $2.99 but to me that sounds a bit "price gouchy" - I think that $0.99 for a short story makes perfect sense. What I would like to see authors do more of is to not price their "novels" at $0.99 but instead write some shorts at $0.99 then price their novels at $2.99 if they are very insecure, $3.99 if they feel they have a "good" book, and $4.99 if they are very confident in the quality.

    Just my 2 cents.
     
  17. MichaelSullivan

    MichaelSullivan Scribal Lord

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    I'm not sure about UK pricing (pence and pounds) it could be that 77p is allowed I thought the discussion was in US dollars and $0.99 is the cheapest.

    Yep...You don't have to incorporate (although I have beause I earn a lot of money through writing). You could go through the trouble of registering with your local government - but that's not necessary either. You still file taxes on a schedule C but make up a name, and use it as the publisher. Don't use your own name ... i.e. Michael Sullivan Books. When I started I was the only author in "Ridan Publishing" which is the company that was actually started by my wife....she now has 17 authors and about 30 books for sale so it "became" a real small press but initially the imprint was just to mask the fact that the books were self-published.

    I read comments often that say... "People don't care if a book is self published...and nobody looks at the imprint." I think that is not true. Most people can spot a self published book from a mile away - because of two things...price $0.99 - $2.99, and bad covers. When I put out my books I did it at $4.95, under a Ridan Imprint, and with good covers:

    riyria_ridan_stacked_300.jpg

    So I positioned myself as an "author" not a "self-published" author. If someone asked I of course was honest that the company was owned by my wife but it rarely came up. It was only after I was picked up by the big-six that I exposed I was actually self-published as it was a good "story" to make me stand out from the other big-six authors.
     
  18. JCFarnham

    JCFarnham Dark Lord

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    Positioning! That's what I was trying to talk about. Good cover, well researched price, a professional "air"... Good advice.

    I'll have to look into the legality of the idea of a stand-in publisher name for a self-published author, before I try it. But in theory you can legally call yourself what you want I suppose. Small, person to person, at home businesses do it all the time with out at first registering.

    Did you run into any issues at all Michael? I'm just trying to gather experiencial advice here from people in the business.

    I think I'm going to strongly consider high prices after hearing your story, but still experiment. Liike, Two 10k shorts, once price cheap and one priced to look like a "professional choice", and see what happens.

    We'll see, I think is the phrase here :p
     
    Last edited: Feb 4, 2012
  19. Telcontar

    Telcontar Staff Moderator

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    That is an interesting thought - we could all be our own publishing 'houses' if we like. I'm certainly no lawyer, but i can't think of anything off the top of my head that would make it 'illegal.' Only real problem I see with it is that, if someone looks up the publisher they won't find squat except for what you have put out there. Then again, I don't know anyone who would actually look up the publisher.

    Yes, very interesting indeed...
     
  20. Codey Amprim

    Codey Amprim Staff Article Team

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    I had been thinking of a mythic scribes "publishing house" for quite awhile... While it wouldn't be necessarily a publishing house, it would serve as a type of brand of books almost; sort of like a sticker or something that would be on the cover.

    An example could be:

    I think that could and would bring a LOT of attention to MS.

    I want to elaborate on this...


    On a side note, thank you all for the valuable information in this thread - I've been lurking it for quite awhile. If MS has some type of important threads archive, this ought to be in it.
     
    Last edited: Feb 4, 2012
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