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.
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.
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.
- Short Story
- 1000 to 7500 words
- Free if loss leader, otherwise 99 cents
- 7,500 – 20,000 words
- 99 cents
- 20,000 – 80,000 words
- 80,000 – 110,000 words
- Epic or Sequel
- Over 110,000 words
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.