5 Things I Believe About Pricing Your Digital Book

photo http://www.sxc.hu/photo/1243714 by  floretan http://www.sxc.hu/profile/floretanSmashwords did extensive research and discovered that, all other things being equal, the price that sells is $3.99.

A few thoughts:

  1. I don’t buy digital books. I don’t even download them free, or, well, when I do, I don’t bother to read them. I’m a book in my hands guy. So as a buyer, digital price is irrelevant.
  2. The market expects that digital books will cost less than print. For good or ill, we have to be aware of the expectation, and if we defy it, we have to manage it, not just ignore it.
  3. For non-fiction, that expectation is lessened. We’re selling information, which is just as valid in any format. While I sell my digital books for $2.99 (because I haven’t changed them all to $3.99 yet) I see no issue with charging the same price for all formats. Eventually, I’ll move that direction, when I get my marketing machine back on the rails.
  4. For fiction, if you charge the same for digital as print, you’d better be famous. People looking to test taste a new author aren’t going to drop $10 on my book when they can choose from 1,000 other new authors charging 99 cents. They should, because my book is probably better, but judge the effectiveness of that statement by your own reaction to it.
  5. Price and value are not the same. Authors moan about demeaning our words by selling them cheap, that we’re telling people our work has lesser value. Poppycock. Gifts have no cost, but can have infinite value. If I build one of my $2,000 websites for a friend for $200, they certainly don’t think it’s only 10% as good. And that’s the secret: price is a number. Value is the outcome of a relationship. Build the relationship in advance, and they’ll perceive value, whatever the price.

This is the type of information I want to gather, analyze, filter and curate for Commonsense Zero-Cost DIY Marketing for Authors. Your thoughts, experiments, results are solicited and appreciated.

4 thoughts on “5 Things I Believe About Pricing Your Digital Book

  1. Another tweet-able line: “… price is a number. Value is the outcome of a relationship.”
    You’re pretty good at writing those, J!

  2. You raise valid points on pricing, but don’t address the point that Mark Coker makes about the sweet spots. It is all well and good that 99 cents doesn’t mean inferior, and can be an introductory price point, but as I review the sales of the books we offer, I see fewer at 99 cents than at higher prices. Right now, we sell individual short stories from two different collections at 99 cents to tease people into buying the full collection, but I don’t think it is doing the trick. I am thinking of raising the prices for a time and see if there is a difference.

  3. Hulloo, Ed! (Ignore my question in my email about the newsletter.)

    It’s all an experiment. My 99¢ suggestion for a teaser price is based on selling books, not short stories. Hard to say whether a short story for 99¢ will get folks to buy a novel for $3.99 or $9.99 or any price at all.

    If your books aren’t selling at 99¢ then certainly, experiment. If you take the time to track sales, and leave space between price changes so you can see what effect it really has, you’ll know more about your own pricing than anyone else could.

    But for most new authors, it’s a far more fundamental question, which is what I was addressing here.

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