Thursday, 3 May 2012

Pricing an e-book

Not quite at publishing stage yet, but not far off, and my mind’s turned to something I’ve neglected but which is rather important: price.

There’s still some stigma attached to self-published writers in a way there isn’t to self-employed carpenters. However, the self-published can increase the attractiveness of their uncertain offerings by cunningly offering low prices.

I’m a bit ambivalent about whether a higher ‘low’ price (£2-3) is better than a cheap and cheerful 99p. People do download lots of e-books, and my concern is that a 99p price might suggest the author himself doesn’t value it too highly. On the other hand, if an established author has a £3 book out and there’s a similarly priced book by an unknown self-published fellow then the former is far likelier to be bought.

When buying books myself the price does make a difference. Sometimes it’s a tie-breaker between otherwise equally intriguing books, and sometimes it puts me right off.

I’ve decided to go for a 97p price tag. The reasoning behind the price is that it’s low enough to easily emotionally blackmail almost everyone I know into buying it be bought by people wavering over whether or not to buy Bane of Souls based on the description/cover/reviews. The 7 at the end rather than the typical 9 is because I recall a llama who told me that, apparently, things are more likely to be bought if they’re 97p rather than 99p. That sounds bonkers, but it does tally with another inexplicable psychological trait I know (namely that if you send off loads of envelopes hoping for responses then putting the stamp on at a slight angle increases the respondent rate).

Another advantage of an initial low price is that it should increase sales and help gather a wider readership than would be the case if I charged £17.50, and given this is step one in the thousand mile journey to being able to afford a 110 foot tall bronze statue of myself I think that’s a good benefit.



  1. that's a good way to gain readership! The 97p is interesting,i like number 7 lol

  2. I certainly hope so.

    Building up a readership is important but will, I think be tricky. I've been reading of a chap who's done very well by releasing a first edition version of the first book of a trilogy for free.

    Obviously I can't do that for a stand-alone book, but when I come to writing a trilogy I'm considering something similar (probably won't be the whole of book 1, but maybe an abridged version or an extended sample).

  3. Wotcha, Mr. T.. I think you are on the correct track, but can I suggest that price is not everything or perhaps the most important thing when it comes to buying a e-book.

    Last Christmas Herself bought me a Kindle and when I browsing the store, usually late in the evening, I am not that worried about price - it is not as if I am spending real money. If the short synopsis takes my fancy I will click on the button whether the price is 97p or £4.97.

    So, whilst I think you are correct, as a new author, to go for the lower end, I think your sales will be driven far more by the description of the book than the price.

  4. That's interesting, Mr. Llama, because price is often an issue for me. Maybe that's because I'm just a poor boy from a poor family.

    The description's important as well, of course, and reviews are one of the things I focus on when buying (or not).

    Unfortunately, I think it's frowned upon for an author to review his own book so all can realise and enjoy its brilliance.

    It's quite tempting to make a Llama Edition, priced at £4.97 now :p

  5. You do that, you'll have to change the artwork on the cover though. Providing it is a genuine llama edition, with a picture of said beast, I promise I'll buy a copy and write a review.