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Ebook Pricing: 3 Tips For Today

Ebook Pricing: 3 Tips For Today

Writing ebooks? If you’re a new author, you’re concerned about ebook pricing.

Established authors, who’ve built up a catalogue of titles, tend not to worry about pricing individual ebooks. They’re focused on extending their reach, and on pricing their ebook series, so that they can tempt new readers into giving their ebooks a try.

One of my students told me: “I price everything at $2.99. Short story, novel, nonfiction ebook… I don’t care. Everything’s priced the same, and I enroll everything in Select for Kindle Unlimited.” It works for him, now that Kindle Unlimited pays you according to pages read.

My own pricing system is much the same. I don’t price everything at $2.99. I price short stories at 99 cents because they’re loss leaders for series, but I vary the prices on other titles. I’m guided by what other authors in a genre are charging, but I’ll also test prices with ebooks which are selling well.

If you increase the price of an ebook, you may make more money at a certain price point, even if you sell fewer ebooks.

As my friend does, I enroll everything in Kindle Unlimited (KU).

WrittenWord Media offers an excellent article on pricing ebooks:

“An author who wants to maximize a financial return on their marketing dollars will use a different pricing strategy than an author who wants to acquire the most new readers. Both goals are undoubtedly part of your marketing plan. Which strategy you deploy depends on which goal applies to the specific title you’re promoting.”

Four tips for ebook pricing today

Most authors want to make money from their ebooks, and they want to increase their readership too. It’s possible to do both.

Let’s look at some ebook pricing tips.

1. Avoid “free” for standalone ebooks, and short series

Free, or low priced ebooks, don’t always convert to sales, or to increasing your readership.

Readers can get all the free titles they want to download in most genres, so “free” has gone from a useful marketing tool, to a tool you need to handle carefully.

Keep in mind too, that Kindle Unlimited allows a subscriber to read as many ebooks as he likes for free. Not all ebooks are in KU, of course, and many of Amazon’s country sites don’t offer KU.

2. If you’re pricing above or below other indie authors in a category, have a reason

Let’s say that other authors in your genre are charging 99 cents for ebooks which are part of a series, and you want to charge $2.99 for each episode of your ten-episode series. Could that work for you?

It’s impossible to say. Try it, and see. That’s always what I suggest when authors ask about pricing — try it, and see.

Keep careful notes of your experiments.

3. Choose an ebook price quickly, change it slowly

You can change the price of an ebook; no price is set in stone. However, ebooks take time to find their level.

Let’s say that you’re selling a standalone novel. You published it a couple of months ago. Sales are slow. You decide to lower the price… should you?

If you’re hoping that changing the price will suddenly turn your sleeper into a hot title, pricing it lower may have little effect. Who knows why a title doesn’t sell? You feel it’s your best work, and are disappointed. You want to do something, anything, to kick this title along. So you lower the price.

It may work. On the other hand, your sleeper title may suddenly take off. A year after publication, it suddenly starts selling. That happened to one of my sleepers. I have no idea why. The title wasn’t in a popular genre, either.

4. Advertise titles which are selling well

Sell what’s selling. If a title sells well, consider turning it into a series — if it works, it works. You can also give titles which sell a push with advertising.

If a title isn’t selling, you may kickstart it with advertising, but on the other hand, you may not. Avoid spending big on titles which don’t sell. You may be tossing good money after bad.

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Kindle Unlimited and Short Fiction

Kindle Unlimited and Short Fiction

Indie authors expected that Kindle Unlimited would damage ebook sales, and many are disgruntled because it seems that it has.

For some writers, things are bad. A New York Times technology article reports:

“Six months ago people were quitting their day job, convinced they could make a career out of writing,” said Bob Mayer, an e-book consultant and publisher who has written 50 books. “Now people are having to go back to that job or are scraping to get by. That’s how quickly things have changed.”

The article also points out that authors have taken the hint from Kindle Unlimited, and are writing shorter materials to suit. From the same article: “Serial novels and short stories are increasing.”

Should You Be Writing Short Fiction?

Consider this. If you write a novel of 70,000 words, you can write ten short stories of 7,000 words in the same stretch of time. Or three novellas of 10,000 words. Your payment for KU “reads” (ten per cent of the ebook) will be the same either way. So your choice is to write one ebook, and get paid just over a dollar for a borrow and read, or spend the same amount of time and energy on shorter fiction. With luck, you’ll make more money, because you’ll get more borrows.

A couple of my students have gone all-in writing shorter fiction. Another couple are expanding short stories into novellas, and six authors are writing and publishing two short stories a week.

That said, just as many of my students are pressing on with novels. One said: “I want to build a career out of fiction. So I’m not giving Amazon an exclusive.” Several of these long-form fiction students are making more money from other ebook retailers than they made at Amazon, so Select has never enticed them, because it means giving Amazon exclusivity.

Write What You Write: Keep Writing, and Promoting

In Blogging Your Ebooks: Visibility Sells, I said:

“Every author is different, and needs a different strategy. We’ll use Mavis as an example, so you can see what’s involved in developing a strategy to gain visibily, attract the readers who want to buy your ebooks, and make sales.”

It’s too early to believe that Kindle Unlimited has damaged ebook sales, and will continue to do so. Bob Mayer believes that the “glut of content” means lower sales.

Maybe so. Honestly, I don’t care. As I’ve always said, you need to market your books. If you market you can write short fiction, or long fiction. Write whatever you want to write, and develop your marketing skills. The days when you could put your head down, and write, and leave it to Amazon’s algorithms to market your books have long gone.

Going forward, authors who take a head-in-the-sand approach to marketing leave their fate up to Amazon. You don’t need to do that. Believe in yourself. MARKET. If you’re a student of mine, you’re encouraged to market. Even the most shy of my students gets the marketing bug eventually, and starts looking on marketing as fun. It is.

Take control. Get visible. In 2015, authors need to believe in themselves enough to market their books. Kindle Unlimited can be a boon to your career, if you take it as the marketing opportunity that it is.

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