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Mixed Emotions About Indie E-book Pricing

eBook Pricing for Indie Fiction (Part 1)

Don’t look so confused. Let’s talk about indie eBook prices.

I have struggled over the past year to find specific, helpful information for indie authors in pricing their eBooks. Woo boy, have I gotten an earful.

After hours of searching and fighting off discouragement, I want to share what I’ve found, plus suggest how to take the mystery out of eBook pricing for new writers. I made some mistakes, and I hope these blog posts will steer you away from those traps.

This is the first of two blog posts. See Part 2 here. Today, I will summarize what I’ve learned from reading other indies on eBook pricing. In my second post, I’ll present a pragmatic framework that any new author can use as a guide for eBook pricing.

Let’s get started the usual way with a Google search. A look-see on “indie e-book prices” returns advice in  these categories:

  1. Price what you think it’s worth
  2. Wait forever before you make any money
  3. Big Name Author comparisons

I could easily add dozens to this list. Recommendations from indies fall all over the board, showing that a “best practices” book price list hasn’t emerged from the fray. Indies are a helpful, talkative bunch. Let’s look closer at what other indies say in these three areas.

Price what you think it’s worth

What? Put a mundane cost on my masterpiece? Buy my début eBook novel for twenty bucks! What a steal at this price. I spent four years of working on it instead of watching reruns of Gilligan’s Island. Twenty bucks are a bargain for my sacrifice.

Here’s the reality. Understand that you want to price the book to sell to the audience who will take a risk reading an unknown. For a début indie author, the price of your book will be much less than you think it’s worth. Sorry for the bad news.

Wait forever before you make any money

Define forever. A while? Sure. Define “any money.” Frankly, selling a couple of books a month still thrills me. I keep showing up every work day at my muggle job, too. I try to not be a mercenary with my writing–this patient approach keeps me sane.

Write for your love of telling a story well. Keep learning writing craft. While you’re building your sales momentum, improve your product quality by learning better skills with:

Big Name Author comparisons

I don’t understand why début indie fiction authors compare their eBook prices to Stephen King. Or J. K. Rowling. Stephenie Meyer. And so on. Wonderful stories from all these folks. Telling no secret here, they are financially successful with their fiction. We are starting out. Apples and oranges comparisons.

I beg new indies to stop flogging ourselves with Big Name Author comparisons. Save your angst and write it into your stories about moody boy heros heading off to the goblin wars. If you must make comparisons, make yourself a magical curios proprietor just opening up a little hole-in-the-wall shop. Look at all the lovely stories you’re going to sell–over the long haul.

In Part 2, I will humbly suggest an indie eBook pricing framework.