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The Craft > Should an unknown author charge $.99 for an ebook?

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message 1: by Susan (new)

Susan Lerner | 23 comments My question is whether you think there is a big difference between selling for $.99 versus $1.99? I put my short story ebook collection out at $1.99 thinking it was worth at least that, but I've noticed that people often say they've read a book only becaues of the .99 price, and then discovered they liked it. I'm doing a blog tour soon, so I'm wondering if I should lower it, or if that makes it seem worthless?


Amy: PROUD DIRECTIONER (ravinxx) | 13 comments Hi S.B.! I'm not an expert in publishing and pricing, but I am an expert in reading and buying. If a book is priced at $1.99 and I have never heard of it, I would hardly ever buy it. The description of the book counts a lot to me. At a $0.99 price, it seems like a more fair deal. If it is a series, I suggest making the first book $0.99 and the others $1.99. That way, a person can buy the first book without too much trouble, and if they like it, they can buy the others for a different price.
Amy Renee


message 3: by Bridget (new)

Bridget Bowers (bridgetbowers) | 9 comments I'm far from an expert myself, but I've been doing a lot of research, and it seems to be an even mix of authors that feel charging $.99 is the best way to go in order to generate interest and readers that will take a chance at the $.99 price.

I've priced my first book at $2.99 on Amazon in order to participate in the higher royalty percentages as well as the fact that it's a rather lengthy book. Most readers I've seen comment will take a chance on a book between $1.99-$5.99.

Another reason I've avoided the $.99 price to start is many readers are claiming that there is just too much in the $.99 range that tend to steer them clear of that range.

I think the main thing in any pricing is follow how your sales are doing. If you are selling well at the price you like, leave it. If you aren't getting the sales you would like try a new price.

Just my $.02.


message 4: by Susan (new)

Susan Lerner | 23 comments Amy Renée wrote: "Hi S.B.! I'm not an expert in publishing and pricing, but I am an expert in reading and buying. If a book is priced at $1.99 and I have never heard of it, I would hardly ever buy it. The descriptio..." Thanks, Amy. I think I agree, as a reader it's psychologically easier to take a chance on $.99, and since my collection is short, it might make sense. Still...


message 5: by Susan (new)

Susan Lerner | 23 comments Bridget wrote: "I'm far from an expert myself, bi>

Hi Bridget,
You make some good points! I thought the same thing,initially, about the $.99 price, there were just too many books at that price, and it seemed a bit demeaning. Recently, though, I came across a self-published author and I liked the opening of her book but wasn't sure. However, I figured for $.99, why not? It's the first in a series and her next one is $3.99, so I see her strategy.
I have the short story collection (which is fairly short) and then some novels in the pipeline, but not yet published, so that strategy won't exactly work for me. Hmm.



message 6: by Jenn (new)

Jenn Thorson (jennthorson) | 30 comments I did a little experiment of a one week sale of the ebook version of my book at $0.99. What I noticed was because I mentioned it as a sale, I did get a few more Retweets and Shares of the link on Twitter and Facebook, and as a result a few more sales resulted than normal.

But that's really been the difference between the $0.99 and the current $2.99 price.

Another thing I'm seeing which I wasn't expecting is that some people who have gotten the ebook and like it have gone and then ordered the paperback version. Which has been a nice surprise.

It's early days yet for my book. But some hopeful trends. :)

Best of luck to you all, as well-- whatever the price! :)


message 7: by Susan (new)

Susan Lerner | 23 comments Jenn wrote: "I did a little experiment of a one week s

Jenn, Where did you put out the word of the sale? On Twitter? I am still trying to figure out how to tweet, exactly. Could you share the tweet you sent out? I set up an acct but I never use it.



message 8: by Jenn (new)

Jenn Thorson (jennthorson) | 30 comments Hiya, SB! Yes, I used Twitter, my personal Facebook page, Google+, and my book's fan page as they all tend to have different groups of people, with some small overlap.

I used a couple of different Tweets, but this was one:

For folks who might have missed it, There Goes the Galaxy #ebook is on sale for $0.99 this week! http://www.amazon.com/gp/aw/d/B005M2R... Big fun, little money.

The # in front of ebook means anyone who isn't following me, but who searches on ebook will get that Tweet in their search stream.

I normally try to limit outright promotions on places like Twitter or Facebook to just a few times a week, in between other normal Tweets and interactions. I like and respect the folks I interact with there and don't want them to feel like they're being hit with spam.

I've seen a number of authors get a little carried away with only Tweets about their book, and it's a real turnoff. Ruins it for everybody.


message 9: by Susan (new)

Susan Lerner | 23 comments Jenn, I retweeted a post about my upcoming blog tour and then tweeted my blog post, but I realized I used #ebooks twice (and tried #shortstories and #kindlebooks). Sorry if that is overuse, but I promise not to do it again for a loooong while.
I really appreciate your explanation, though. Happy to retweet your tweet if you like. Do I just add your twitter name or something? If your sale is over, you can give me a different tweet. Your book sounds very entertaining.


message 10: by Jenn (new)

Jenn Thorson (jennthorson) | 30 comments I don't think it sounds like you overdid it. I've found because the Twitter feed rolls so fast and people are on it at different times of day, it's possible to tweet at different hours and not offend folks.

I HAVE seen ones that blast only promo stuff and in large quantities at a time, and I don't think that helps their cause.

My sale is regrettably over for now, but thank you for the offer. I'll be interested to hear how your Tweeting adventures go in the coming weeks. If you care to share your Twitter url, I would be happy to follow you there if you're not already on my list. :)


message 11: by Susan (new)

Susan Lerner | 23 comments Thanks, Jenn. I see what you mean, now. My twitter url is @sulerner. I think that's what you mean. I'm not on your list. I'll follow back. I follow Steve Martin. He's pretty funny.


message 12: by Jenn (new)

Jenn Thorson (jennthorson) | 30 comments You might enjoy following Stephen Fry and comedian Bill Bailey, as well. They're both on Twitter.


message 13: by Marty (new)

Marty Beaudet (authormartyb) | 38 comments Many times I have reduced my book prices, going so far as to make them free for periods of time. And yet, I can't even give them away for free, despite having numerous four- and five-star reviews. But at other times, when i'm offering no discounts and am not actively marketing on Twitter or FB, the books start selling. Price doesn't seem to be the issue when someone finds a book that speaks to them. We just need to get it in front of them to get noticed. Perhaps 99 cents does that to some degree, and sometimes moves books, but there is so much competition at that price point that it becomes meaningless after a while.

My problem, in part, seems to be that most of my followers and friends are fellow authors who, like myself, are inundated with each other's book offerings. We're all just marketing to the choir, who are more limited by time than by cost; we just have no room for any more books, even if they're free.

How do we reach READERS who are not also authors?


Amy: PROUD DIRECTIONER (ravinxx) | 13 comments I guess the whole thing is a lot like Marty said... when you find a book that really speaks to you, you don't really notice the price as much.
I am a reader, and I want to be an author, but I'm not quite there yet. I'm 13, but I'm a fanatic when it comes to books and reading. When I find a book that really calls me to read it, I'll buy it.
There may be a certain type of person that your book would appeal more to, so I guess the only way to sell more books is to find a way to reach those people. I'm not certain quite how to do this, but I can't think of any other way to reach a reader that isn't also an author.


message 15: by Samantha (new)

Samantha (samanthaofalaska) | 3 comments I always charge 99 cents. Since my name isn't known yet, I'm not into making gobs of money - I'm just trying to get my name out there. And I frequently offer my book for free for read to reviews or even on some torrent sites. When I'm as famous as Stephanie Meyer, THEN I'll start charging $1.99!


message 16: by Gary (new)

Gary Wilson | 5 comments To me it depends on the type of book and length - a short story or novella .99 is a good price.

A full length novel (300+ pages) - unless you're running a promotion - .99 is selling yourself short.

For a long time I would under charge for my printed novels, but I have come to the conclusion I worked long and hard and my work is just as good as anything else out there

Charge .99 for my novels - nope


message 17: by C.P. (new)

C.P. Moore | 3 comments Bridget wrote: "Another reason I've avoided the $.99 price to start is many readers are claiming that there is just too much in the $.99 range that tend to steer them clear of that range."

I think you've hit the nail on the head there. I was thinking about reducing the price of mine to $0.99 as a promo for a week. Partly to try and increase readership to increase the chances of reviews (thereby increasing visibility), and partly to see if the sales jump (if there was one) was significant enough to offset taking a drop in royalty percentage.

But it is true now you've said it, that when I'm shopping for ebooks I tend to skip the $0.99 ones because there are so many its just impossible to separate the good ones who're just selling low as a "limited offer" from those who just don;t have any faith in the quality of their writing (and quite often rightly so)


message 18: by Michael (new)

Michael Fuery | 3 comments Another consideration might be that $.99 ebooks could appear to be the electronic equivalent of a clearance table, and therefore devalue the title and author. I think I'd rather give away a very limited number as a promotion with the hope of a review. It is a vexed issue for sure; for some it works, others not.


Stephen Livingston | 14 comments I'd suggest keeping your books price at $2.99 or above to take advantage of the higher royalty rate, a good book is still a huge bargain at that price.
Best wishes, Stephen Livingston.


message 20: by Philip (new)

Philip | 4 comments You will have to take this with a grain of salt, coming from someone who hasn't published short stories:

I think the 99 cent price point would make sense for a single story, but you are offering a collection, so I would think you would want to price it higher than that.


message 21: by Olivia (new)

Olivia Craig (Olivia_Duncan_Craig) | 7 comments I've got to agree with Stephen. Lord knows I'm no expert. But when I published my first book in April, I went with the $2.99 price point because I wanted to qualify for the higher royalty and because I didn't want people to believe they were getting a lower quality book (the bargain table mentality). After the first month, when it was selling well within its categories, I actually raised the price to $3.99, which is what other comparable titles were selling for (if not more). Then to celebrate 2,500 copies sold, I dropped the price to $ .99 for 24 hours. I sold perhaps 100 copies at that price point. But even at the $3.99 price, I've been selling 30-50 copies a day. I think if people like your summary/sample and trust the reviews, they're willing to spend the money.


message 22: by Lanie (new)

Lanie Malone | 24 comments I did a two day promo, followed by three days at .99. The results: I'm in far better standing than I was last week. I moved from the 400k range, up to 22k last night. I bumped the price back up to $2.99.

While I value my work, I can see the benefit of using the bargain table to get your book into a position where it can be seen. Let's face it, if its in 400k territory, the only people who will see it, are the ones who are specifically searching for it. And while we should be marketing our little tushies off, so that people are looking for it, when you're just starting out, that can build up very slowly. The bargain table might be a way to jump start the sales, and start creeping your way up the ladder.

Take note though: I'm still learning all of this, so I could be totally wrong. :)


message 23: by C.P. (new)

C.P. Moore | 3 comments I've recently found that the price doesn't matter a damn if your book isn't seen by potential customers. I was selling quite well at $2.99 (£1.91), until I got a 2 star review that brought my average down to 3.6. Now it doesn't appear if you filter to 4 stars and higher (which most customers do when buying anything on amazon really), so sales have plummeted. I need two more 4 star reviews on the US site to make it visible again or all the promo pricing and free giveaways aren't going to do a thing


message 24: by Jon (last edited Jul 14, 2012 01:46PM) (new)

Jon Etheredge (jonetheredge) | 495 comments Marty wrote: "Many times I have reduced my book prices, going so far as to make them free for periods of time. And yet, I can't even give them away for free... How do we reach READERS who are not also authors?"

Develop a secret marketing plan. Show it to two or three author friends (make sure each page is prominently labeled "SECRET" in red ink). When they ask if they can read it, tell 'em, "If I was to let you do that, I'd have to kill you...ha, ha, ha!" Then let them read it. Ask them where the rough spots are, what they would do about this or that, and generally pick their brains for improvements. Then kill them. I would dash their skulls in with a candelabra in the reading room. Leave lots of clues strewn about, and act all nervous and sweaty when the police inspector asks you about the wonderfully colorful morning glories in the garden. He will no doubt have more questions for you, and it would be impolite to leave him standing out in the sun. Invite him to tea, perhaps in the reading room. He will notice the spatter marks on your Top Secret Marketing Plan and turn to ask you about them. You're getting good with the candelabra by this time, and soon enough the inspector is hidden away and you have a fresh patch of eye-popping marigolds! You will eventually be caught, of course. You will be tried and executed the old fashioned way -- by hanging. Doubleday will then discover your novel languishing on Amazon and you will become famous.

Summary: don't underestimate a good marketing plan.

PS: Did I mention I'm looking for 2-3 authors to look at an ARC for my new book?


message 25: by Nick (new)

Nick Russell | 12 comments I'm new to the group and to Goodreads, but I'd like to comment if I may. In late May, 2011 I uploaded my first mystery novel, Big Lake, to Amazon as an e-book, priced at $.99. I have a rather large blog following and it sold a hundred or so books a month until October when it started to take off. December and January were crazy, with sales of 1,000 books a day on some days. Christmas day I sold 1,800 copies. It was amazing and wonderful, and by March I had sold over 100,000 copies. Sales have since dropped off considerably, and last month I raised it to $2.99.

The end of January I published the sequel, Big Lake Lynching, at $2.99 and have sold just over 10,000 copies so far.

So yes, you can be successful with a $.99 cent book as an unknown author, in my experience.


message 26: by Hannah (new)

Hannah (normalgirl) | 398 comments Wow. That is really amazing. Congratulations. Did you self publish this book as well.


message 27: by Nick (new)

Nick Russell | 12 comments I have self-published all of my books.


message 28: by Hannah (new)

Hannah (normalgirl) | 398 comments Wow. Very impressive. I only hope my debute novel does as well as that.


message 29: by Nick (new)

Nick Russell | 12 comments I hope it does too, Hannah. Good luck :)


message 30: by Jon (new)

Jon Etheredge (jonetheredge) | 495 comments How did you get the word out about your book? Just your blog?


message 31: by Nick (new)

Nick Russell | 12 comments I promoted it on my blog, on Facebook, and with a few posts on Twitter. I also set up a separate Facebook author's page. Many of my blog readers and Facebook friends posted comments about it to their own Facebook following, which helped spread the word. It rose to #26 in it's genre on Amazon, and stayed in the Top 100 for over three months. When a book gets ranked that high, it seems to take on a life of its own. After it took off, I was also interviewed on a few book blogs.

It was all very exciting, and absolutely amazing to me, but it slowed down just as fast as it shot up. So far this month, it has sold about 250 copies. I have since raised the price to $2.99 (after the sales slump began). I think most of the authors I know on the Kindle forum have experienced very slow sales the last couple of months.


message 32: by Victoria (new)

Victoria Greyson (VictoriaGreyson) | 3 comments I started with a free promo and had 500 uploads each day. I then tried 2.99 and had 3 sales. Yesterday I listed at. 99 and had 10. Which I'm okay with because of my specific genre and I'm just wanting to establish my name. It's done better than I thought for the first week.


message 33: by Martin (new)

Martin Reed (pendrum) | 23 comments I was talking to another author who's just as obscure and unknown as I am, and he mentioned how the psychological part of it is often the determining factor in copies sold. Price something too cheap (as some others have pointed out) and you're bound to be classified as too amateurish, price something too high and you're considered conceited. It's a fine line to have to walk.

On top of that, if you price something really low to begin with and just start raising the price soon after, you're bound to alienate a lot of potential readers/fans.

It's like someone once told me (or I could've hallucinated this, it's hard to tell): you can please some people all the time and all people some of the time, but you can't please all the people, all the time...

... Not unless you buy drinks for everyone till the end of time.


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