Tag Archives: Ebook pricing

Startled Man

eBook Pricing for Indie Fiction (Part 2)

Stop wandering in the indie eBook pricing forest

Setting indie eBook fiction prices is like wandering without a path in a misty forest. Take my hand, and let us find our way together.

This is the second of two posts discussing eBook pricing for new indie fiction authors. In Part 1, we looked at other indies’ pricing suggestions. In today’s post, I will present a pricing model based on samples and story length.

FREE Loss Leader

These freebies are your samples. Their purpose is to hook a reader on your writing style, tease them with taste of a longer novel, or they are the first installment of a series. These items are short stories–novelette length at the most (I describe fiction lengths below). Post flash fiction or ultra-shorts of 100-500 words on your website. These tidbits catch the interest of readers window shopping at your website. They are like delicious sample trays at chocolatiers’ shops.

Long stories have smaller price per word

Long stories have smaller price per word

Put longer short stories and novelettes on your usual sales channels (i.e., Smashwords and Amazon) so you can track how many people have downloaded them. Be sure to enable sampling the first 20% or so of all fiction on your sales channels. The key is to let your readers try your writing before they buy. Have at least one teaser, prequel or loss leader in your collection. Put some freebies on your website, and offer one in your usual sales channels. The eBook price? Free.

Length Matters

The number of words is one of the few pragmatic measurements for a story. No need for fancy (and confusing) formulas based on manuscript pages–use the word count feature of your word processor. You will be rounding it to whole numbers anyway.

Lita’s recommended eBook pricing model uses word count, but it isn’t linear. Your shorter stories will have a high price-per-word value than the longer works. For example, a short story at 1000 words would be priced at a dollar (valued at 10 cents per word), but a 120,000 epic fantasy would not be priced at ten cents a word–it would cost a whopping $120. It would not sell, no matter how wonderful the tale.

The Shocking Pricing Model

Take a deep breath. Ready? Here is Lita’s humbly suggested eBook pricing model for just-starting-out indie authors. When you’ve grown a following, you could adjust the prices to what your market can absorb.

These indie eBook prices are shocking!

These indie eBook prices are shocking!

  • Short Story
    • 1000 to 7500 words
    • Free if loss leader, otherwise 99 cents
  • Novelette
    • 7,500 – 20,000 words
    • 99 cents
  • Novella
    • 20,000 – 80,000 words
    • $1.99
  • Novel
    • 80,000 – 110,000 words
    • $2.99
  • Epic or Sequel
    • Over 110,000 words
    • $3.99

Lita made the mistake of pricing her début novel much too high. I set the eBook value on what I thought it was worth, and the readership disagreed. Other marketing blunders also slowed sales down, but that’s a topic for another post.

These pricing numbers are based on Lita’s experience. If Gentle Reader uses a different pricing approach and wishes to share the pros and cons, please comment. After all, we are wandering together in the misty forest of indie eBook pricing.

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.