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Writing and Publishing > Realistic ebook prices for 2013

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message 1: by Kathleen (new)

Kathleen Morris (kathleenmorris) So recently, I looked into an online auction. It was a piece of land. I read in fine print that the auction company would tack on $500 bucks to the final sale simply because it was an online purchase, and was a convenience - saving people money from having to drive to the sale, and the time it would take them to get there.

SO...ebooks do the same don't they? I think we as authors are WAY underestimating our product here. We are being silly putting up books for pennies when every other company out there in 2013 is charging more for online convenience.

I get pricing ebooks for free is a marketing tool..and I have one that is free for that purpose...but all the others...I hiked the price up.

My new book, published in May 2013 is up for $7.99 and I'm not ashamed to say it. I WORKED DARN HARD TO WRITE THIS BOOK, not to mention all the other hard work I put into getting it ready to publish. I woke up early everyday and forced my eyes open to write 2 hours before my long, stressful day job. IT IS WORTH $7.99...and like I said...I AM NOT ASHAMED!!!

I give people a convenient way to read books in this fast paced world where time is EVERYTHING! Most people work their butt off and can barely find time to clean their house let alone go to the bookstore on their day off.

Every other company out there in 2013 has realized that and will make people pay for the convenience.

We ebook authors need to do the same. DON'T SELL YOURSELF SHORT!

Raise your ebook prices!

Since raising the price of all my ebooks and keeping only one book free...I have seen a steady spike in sales. It's incredible!

At first I thought, who would buy them at that price?..but now I stop saying that. Obviously LOTS!

So I encourage other authors to raise their prices too! Ebooks are not about saving a tree...they are about CONVENIENCE in a time-starved world...and that is worth a LOT!


message 2: by Emma (new)

Emma Faragher | 146 comments I keep my price at £2.50 (plus tax) because I feel it is enough that each purchase works towards the money I put into it getting a professional cover but its still very affordable. I won't pay over £5 for an ebook no matter who published it, more than £3 and it has to be pretty damn good, like, I couldn't possibly stop reading it good. But then I don't have a lot of money to spare on books and I read so very fast that I need a lot of books to keep me going. Cheap books are a gift to people like me, people with a love for reading. I think that's what the ebook does, allows authors to reach a much larger audience and without all the overheads of a paperback. So it is cheaper to produce and ebook and therefore should be cheaper to buy even with the added convenience. But then buying paperbacks on amazon is pretty convenient too.


message 3: by Barbara (new)

Barbara Tarn (barbaragtarn) | 1185 comments I price based on wordcount. But you did well and followed Dean Wesley Smith's advice
http://www.deanwesleysmith.com/?p=7891
I write short books, so I won't charge 7.99. My maximum is 5.99 because my maximum lenght is 70K. Whenever I manage to write more, I'll increase the price (or if I do a bundle of titles that goes over the 100k treshold, I will charge 799! ;p)!
Anyway, enough of those 99cents ebooks, unless it's a short story! :D


message 4: by Kathleen (new)

Kathleen Morris (kathleenmorris) Barbara wrote: "I price based on wordcount. But you did well and followed Dean Wesley Smith's advice
http://www.deanwesleysmith.com/?p=7891
I write short books, so I won't charge 7.99. My maximum is 5.99 because m..."


I like Dean Wesley Smith, he's my hero ;)

I've talked to a lot of people about buying ebooks and I haven't come across a single one that buys because of a low or high price. They all buy ebooks if they're interested in the story. If I see a book that intrigues me, then I buy it...and I cherish it more if I spend good money on it. I'm more apt to read the one I spent more money on than the one I got free or cheaper than dog dung.

I'm tired of people expecting ebooks for free or for pennies like it didn't take any effort at all to write, or that it isn't worth as much because it's not on paper. Let THEM craft a novel from scratch, taking months, sometimes years of pain-staking work and sell it for pennies.

Does a reputable auction company say, "Oh, I am sooo sorry you can't afford to buy online with us because of that $500 bucks we tack on for the convenience of purchasing online. Let me just wave that fee for you."

I think not! Are we all mad? Is selling ebooks a business or not?

Yes, we are writers...but we are still in the business of selling books and it doesn't make much business sense to devalue your product in any way...especially monetary!


message 5: by Barbara (new)

Barbara Tarn (barbaragtarn) | 1185 comments Kathleen wrote: "I like Dean Wesley Smith, he's my hero ;) "

He's my publishing guru too since I did the Think Like A Publisher workshop with him back in 2011 :) I sure hope to do more in the future - with him and Kris Rusch.

I totally agree with what you say - enough cheap books and Kindle giveaways! :D


message 6: by Kathleen (new)

Kathleen Morris (kathleenmorris) Barbara wrote: "Kathleen wrote: "I like Dean Wesley Smith, he's my hero ;) "

He's my publishing guru too since I did the Think Like A Publisher workshop with him back in 2011 :) I sure hope to do more in the futu..."


I should look into those workshops! I'd love to take one if I can ever find the time. If I'm not working full time, I'm writing. I often feel like I'm time poor.

It's true when they say time is money! That's why it's so important to me to value what I write! My books are worth it...and so is EVERY author's book! It's our heart, soul, and mind! And THAT is valuable no matter what people say about ebooks not costing as much to publish.

I just attended a writer's group the other day after a long hard day of work. I didn't really have the time and I was so exhausted...but I thought I'd try it anyway.

Well...I ain't going back. The moment I mentioned I was an Indie author and published ebooks, they turned their noses up at me making me feel like my writing was second best.

"They all said, "You mean...you don't have a paper copy?"

Just another thing us ebook authors have to deal with: The devaluing and discrimination of those old fashioned authors, publisher, and editors that think the only definition of an author comes in the form of paper. But that is probably a little off topic. I'll save it for another thread:)


message 7: by Amy (new)

Amy Parker (amy_parker) | 14 comments Barbara wrote: "I price based on wordcount. But you did well and followed Dean Wesley Smith's advice
http://www.deanwesleysmith.com/?p=7891
I write short books, so I won't charge 7.99. My maximum is 5.99 because m..."


I agree. I've done 99 cent short stories, and it seems like a fair price for about five thousand words, but definitely not for a full-length novel. Plus, when novels are that cheap, people expect short stories to be free. I'm happy to do a temporary promotional giveaway, but I'm not setting the default price for my work at free. If I was going to do that, I'd set up a blog or something and skip the trouble and expense of turning my work into ebooks.


message 8: by Elly (new)

Elly Helcl (ellymae) | 4 comments New authors, like me, have very little choice but to price our books cheap...

I know authors with a larger client base hate that but when I tried to price my books for more my sales dropped to zero!

I wrote my books for people to read and enjoy them...I don't expect to make a living off of it, I just hope to eventually break even on a book. It is expensive to be an author!!!


message 9: by Ubiquitous (new)

Ubiquitous Bubba (ubiquitousbubba) | 413 comments Before publishing my first book, I spent many years as a musician. I wrote, recorded and performed wherever and whenever I could. I learned during that time that it's difficult to put a price on art. What I learned was that if you don't value your work, your audience won't either.

I priced my eBook at $5.99. Later, I set up a POD version through CreateSpace for $9.99. My novel is approximately 99,000 words in length and it was written gradually over a period of several years. I don't expect to get rich with it. I know I could have a wider readership if I gave it away for free.

I like my book. I'm proud of it. My readers like it, too. When I compare the cost of buying a book (eBook or paperback) from a big publisher, my book seems like a pretty good value. I know some would tell me to drop the price to $0.99 in order to compete more effectively. It is worth more than that to me. Can you buy other books in the same genre? Of course, but you won't find any others exactly like mine. That unique quality is what makes its value subjective. It's Art. The value is in the eye of the beholder. Price accordingly.

(YMMV)


message 10: by Ken (new)

Ken Haramiru (haramiru) | 68 comments Elly: What are you spending money on, that you're worried about breaking even? Please don't tell me you've fallen prey to one of these "publicity" sites or something...

On the other hand if you're talking about breaking even against a nominal cover design fee, yep that's always a great feeling once you reach revenue-neutral there.


message 11: by Kathleen (last edited Jun 03, 2013 07:21AM) (new)

Kathleen Morris (kathleenmorris) Ubiquitous wrote: "Before publishing my first book, I spent many years as a musician. I wrote, recorded and performed wherever and whenever I could. I learned during that time that it's difficult to put a price on ..."

I agree with you completely! I value my work and I want others to as well. I was surprised when people started buying my books at a higher price.

And we're only fooling ourselves when we think we are getting more readership if we give it away free. It ends up in the slush pile and seldom gets read at all.

I want my stuff read. So...people who pay are usually guaranteed to read it. It may not appear that we are making money but...little by little you DO! New authors just need to be patient.

I've only had my books up for a year...but I have 6. I worked like a dog to put more and more up. When I put my first two novels up...I gave them away for free for 3 months thinking that was my only option. WRONG! In the process I felt like I was giving my heart away. I decided against it when my daughter asked me one day, "Mom, you worked sooo hard for 10 years writing those books. Why would you just give them away?"

And that was the turning point for me. So...no more. I value my work. I want others to also!

And for those authors who are spending money getting other people to make covers...I encourage you to look into making them yourself.

I do all my own covers. I have a secret. When I take a picture...I layer in a photo-shoot like a piece of art. All my covers are layered. By that, I mean I put all the pieces like a puzzle together and then I take the picture. I don't use special effects or photo-shop something in. I use photography/art design and light. It's all about the lighting too. Take a look at my book covers if you like. You'll see what I mean. http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/....


message 12: by Barbara (last edited Jun 03, 2013 07:22AM) (new)

Barbara Tarn (barbaragtarn) | 1185 comments Elly wrote: "New authors, like me, have very little choice but to price our books cheap...

I know authors with a larger client base hate that but when I tried to price my books for more my sales dropped to zer..."


What Ubiquitous said. Don't buy the silly story that new authors need to price low to find their readers. If you write good stories, readers will find you. If you don't value your own work, nobody will.
Whoever downloads free or cheap books is a downloader who will probably never read your book. You want readers. Readers will pay for your books if they like your writing.
Never ever undersell yourself only because "they say" that a new author should sell cheap. Please refer to Dean Wesley Smith or Kris Katryn Rusch for advice - yes, they're pros, but they're helping complete unknown like me as well!
Happy writing!


message 13: by Kathleen (new)

Kathleen Morris (kathleenmorris) Barbara wrote: "Elly wrote: "New authors, like me, have very little choice but to price our books cheap...

I know authors with a larger client base hate that but when I tried to price my books for more my sales d..."


Exactly!!!!

I like you Barbara! You and I think alike :)


message 14: by Barbara (last edited Jun 03, 2013 07:55AM) (new)

Barbara Tarn (barbaragtarn) | 1185 comments yes, Kathleen! :) And let's not forget that one-book-wonders will never ever live off their writing! You need to have many titles out - on-book-wonders should go to traditional publishers... Since I have a long, unpublished backlist, I know I'll eventually be able to quit my dayjob... with this brand new world of publishing, yay! :D Not this year, not next year, maybe not even in 2015 like I hoped, but eventually I will take off - ebooks are forever.
And, Kathleen, you can throw that writers group a printed copy of your book - if you don't want Amazon, use Lulu or Lightning Source, make a logo and show them you're a "published author" with no other specific (my POD books are with Lulu at the moment, see here: http://creativebarbwire.wordpress.com... - I'm not selling much PODs, in spite of having them there since 2009. This year I'll try CreateSpace and see if the kindle+POD edition sell more...)! ;)


message 15: by Elly (new)

Elly Helcl (ellymae) | 4 comments Ken, I spent money on an editor, a cover artist, an now, a studio to get my book into audio book format!

Barbara, I spent a lot of time and money on my books...right now, I am not that comfortable pricing them higher...not because I don't believe in my work but because when I did it, I had ZERO sales for two months! As an SPA I just want people to read my books...they aren't free but they are cheap. I just don't know how I could ever get a fan base by pricing myself out of their range. I found Samantha young because she kept her price reasonable while she was an SPA...now that she is with a publishing house, I eventually will suck it up and buy her books...hopefully when they r on sale though.


message 16: by Emma (new)

Emma Faragher | 146 comments I think there is a lot of middle ground between free or very cheap books, and pricing at the same level as new release conventionally published books. If you price too low people sometimes assume your book will read like a cheap book, if you price too high, you can price a lot of readers out of your book. Especially if it's your first book, or the first book in a series. A reader takes a risk when they buy a high priced book from an unknown author, therefore the book has to amazing or they will be left feeling ripped off. But that's true of all books, not just indie published books. My other argument for having indie books cheaper than non-indie books is that the author gets a bigger cut of the price of the book, so the books can be cheaper without losing any money per sale compared to conventionally published books.

I want people to enjoy my books, it's probably different if you need to make a living from your books. But I don't feel that having an affordable book (I think mine is $3.80) devalues my work. Of course, i haven't priced it very low either because I need to cover the cost of having a professional cover. I'm not at all good enough at photography or photoshop to make my own, and the cover is one of the most important factors in getting someone to buy your book.


message 17: by Ken (last edited Jun 04, 2013 01:09AM) (new)

Ken Haramiru (haramiru) | 68 comments This of course is the perspective of an erotica author, but...

First, I wrote free stories under my pen name, on a number of free erotica sites. They gained a fair amount of readership and popularity.

Then, I went and expanded them into "director's cut" versions of themselves. Bigger, better, etc - and NOT FREE. People still read the free shorter versions online, then go buy out the eBook versions.

Where I am right now, I write new stories which haven't ever had a free version, and they sell. Not spectacularly, but they do sell.

I recently released a free eBook, which really helped draw people into the rest of my titles. But now that I've been at it a while, my thoughts are this:

Never make your first book free, or your second. For your third or fourth or something, publish a free short which serves to introduce people to your writing style. Ideally it should be a prequel to one of your other stories; it should hook readers and draw them into your other titles.

But if you make your first book free right away, what happens is that when you release your second one a year (or a few months) later, no one's really going to think back on your first free one at that point. Free books drive purchases of non-free books if and only if there are non-free books to buy right after you finish the free one.


message 18: by Steph, Space Opera Diva (new)

Steph Bennion (stephbennion) | 807 comments I have a review on B&N for my Cinderella sci-fi spoof that actually says: "...thank you for the free entertainment." !


message 19: by Neil (new)

Neil | 43 comments I have a couple of 99c shorts, and a free one that is really the beginning of a longer story.
I've heard things from both sides of this discussion, about what the "optimal" price is.
I think it is handy to have a few shorts for free so that people can at least be exposed to your work for free. Mind you, most places offer a 20% or so free sample of everything, don't they? When I put out a novel it will not be free.
I think that if a person is connected to the story then sure they'll pay for it. But for me, if I don't know anything from the author already I am very unlikely to take a chance, no matter the price, unless it is free. I have lots of books. Lots and lots and lots of books. I could probably sit and read for the rest of my life and not read all the books I already have. And I keep buying more, mostly from second hand stores.
When it comes to ebooks, I collect (hoard) free ones, partly because I am interested, partly because it is free, partly because I want to support an indie author, and partly because I want to broaden my horizons to things I might not ordinarily read.
I do have quite the collection of freebies, but I am working through them, and I do write reviews when I am done. I think there are lots of different types of reading habits, as well as "purchasing" habits.

I don't worry about breaking even, because I do everything myself, and even the very small amount of sales I've had have me in "profit", provided I don't pay myself hourly for the work it takes to put out a story.
I do not use an editor or proofreader. Maybe I should. I'm sure there are people who would tell me I should. I use myself, separated by time from when I wrote what I'm editing/proofreading. I feel like it works okay for me.
I design my own book covers. I use Photoshop, which I think I am adequately skilled with. My intention is to paint a picture as a cover for each of my novels, when they finally are written, although they might first see the light of day with a Photoshop cover.
And of course, Amazon and Smashwords are both free to publish through.
I just hope I am not jack of all trades and master of none...


message 20: by Kathleen (last edited Jun 04, 2013 09:03PM) (new)

Kathleen Morris (kathleenmorris) Neil wrote: "I have a couple of 99c shorts, and a free one that is really the beginning of a longer story.
I've heard things from both sides of this discussion, about what the "optimal" price is.
I think it i..."


Good for you Neil! I do everything myself too. It can be done, regardless of what people say.

And I thought the 20% free sample was available for all books too, so they can taste the book. I don't think many people take advantage of that though, because there are so many free ones out there. Why should they? We make it too easy if we price for free.

One thing I'd like so see Smashwords adopt is the handy click-to-look-inside feature that Amazon has. I use this for everything. If I want to know what an author is like, I just go to Amazon and read the first few pages. I can usually tell if I'm interested from that. I thought most people did that or at least downloaded the free sample on Smashwords. There really is no reason to NOT know what an author writes like.

I purchase if I like the sample. Simple as that. And I don't like to collect free books. It's kind of like having way too many cable channels and finding nothing to watch.

And I work for a cable company. I see this 'overwhelming' phenomenon all the time.

And...I get my cable for free...but sometimes it's much too much. When you don't pay for something, you take it for granted and don't appreciate it. And it isn't always good for you to have so much.

I also see this happen with my wardrobe. I am a value village freak. I love bargains and used clothing, so on 50% off days, I fill my cart up. I get home and it all gets stuffed into my closet. Half the stuff is never worn...shamefully. So...the other day...I got rid of it all and started over. I have a few select outfits now that I wear all the time, and I stopped hording the bargains and decided to spend more money on less pieces. And you know what? I actually value the things I spent more money on, and wear them all the time. It's beautiful!

Same with ebooks. I just hope I didn't lose everyone with my analogy:)


message 21: by Barbara (new)

Barbara Tarn (barbaragtarn) | 1185 comments Kathleen, followed throughout and still with you - we're definitely on the same page with this topic! ;)


message 22: by Kathleen (new)

Kathleen Morris (kathleenmorris) Barbara wrote: "Kathleen, followed throughout and still with you - we're definitely on the same page with this topic! ;)"

:)


message 23: by Storm (new)

Storm Chase Barbara wrote: "I price based on wordcount. But you did well and followed Dean Wesley Smith's advice
http://www.deanwesleysmith.com/?p=7891
I write short books, so I won't charge 7.99. My maximum is 5.99 because m..."


Thanks for this link. Appreciate it!


message 24: by Peyton (new)

Peyton Sloane | 1 comments Getting ready to self-publish my first book - just under 100k words so very grateful for the discussion and suggestions.

I am fortunate to have wonderful beta readers and a friend who's an artist who did the cover artwork for me. I have not hired anyone to do anything, the responsibilities of editing and formatting are mine—not only for the cost factor but I have (maybe misplaced)confidence in my abilities and believe that the story will stand or fall on its own merits.

Like so many of you I don't believe that indie authors should be de-valuing ourselves (wow, I can actually include myself in the group now) by "giving it away".

I also understand that it is hard to get noticed in the mushrooming market. That being said, even a two hour movie at the theatre costs over $10...a full length novel that will give you 4 or 5 times that much entertainment value is certainly worth a few dollars.


message 25: by Kathleen (new)

Kathleen Morris (kathleenmorris) Peyton wrote: "Getting ready to self-publish my first book - just under 100k words so very grateful for the discussion and suggestions.

I am fortunate to have wonderful beta readers and a friend who's an artist..."


Congrats on being a published author Peyton! My first book was just over 100,000 words. I gave it away free for 3 months...now it's up for $5.99. If I had to do it all over again...I would have done $5.99 right from the beginning:)

Your words, your story, your efforts, are WORTH it, so hope you charge a fee!


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