Do you have a self-published book? Thinking about self-publishing because you’re tired of giving some of your profits away to publishers? You’re not the only one. Many authors, even traditionally published authors have decided they are now going to self-publish and have done so very successfully. Authors that self-publish, particularly through Amazon often make serious errors when it comes to pricing, costing them both money and in some cases new readers and fans. Pricing is tricky because you don’t want to price your books too high, nor too low. But one of the worst trends I see is under pricing books. Lately, what I’ve noticed more than anything is a tendency to price books that are 200+ pages at .99. Or pricing collections where there are five or six books, sometimes by different authors at .99. Yikes! What are these authors thinking? When you price such books so low, not only do you devalue your own book, it’s like putting a sign out saying, “I’m cheap buy me now!” While you may initially make sales, especially if you’re new author, most likely these books will be treated as something to maybe read later, and may not get read at all.
Now, speaking of pricing your self-published book, what about offering your book for free for a limited time? When Amazon first brought out the KDP program and was allowing authors to make their books free for a limited time I thought it was a good idea. After all, it gives readers that haven’t read my books before a chance to try my book out. Initially I think this program was a good idea, but now not so much. Here’s why. Now everybody is doing this. In many cases, many authors are regularly making the same book free for a limited period of time. What’s bad about this you ask? Well, it’s this, if readers notice certain authors having a cycle of free days on a particular book, do you really think they’re going to buy that book? No, they’re not. They’re going to wait and see if it’s offered for free again. Then they’ll download it when it’s free, and add it to all the other “free” books they’ve downloaded. In many cases they will never read that book, they’ll just add it to the backlog of free books and continue to buy their favorite authors. Maybe if they run short on cash, or are in a bind for a something new to read, they might choose your book from all the others they downloaded for free, but most likely not.
So, how do you price your self-published book? Very very carefully. One of the things to keep in mind is to never devalue yourself or the time and effort you put into your book by pricing it too low. If you have a 200+ page book, you should not be pricing it at .99. Contrary to what some authors are saying, you are not going to make a living publishing books at that price. Particularly since most distributors such as Amazon and B&N take a chunk of that. Now if your goal isn’t to make a living at your writing, then by all means continue to publish your books at .99 each. In order to not devalue the book and yourself, it’s important to set a price that is fair but that also takes into account that third party distributors such as Amazon and B&N are going to take a chunk of your royalties. You want to factor that into your price. The best way in my opinion to set price is do so based on the number of pages. So for example, I’ve written a 100+ page novel. I would price that no lower than $2.99. If my next book is 200+ pages I’d charge $4.99, 300+ pages then I’d charge at least $6.99.
Quality writing and presentation will ensure that readers buy your books, so it’s important to provide them with a product that they don’t mind paying these prices for. So, make sure you have not just a great story, but a beautiful cover, and that your book has been properly edited.
So, does this mean you can never charge .99 for your books? No, it just means it’s important not to do it all the time. And I think now with the plethora of free e-books from Amazon and elsewhere, it’s almost never a good idea to offer your book for free. Now there are exceptions to the idea of a free book, such as offering a free book in return for an honest review for example. Or if you want to offer the first book in your series for free once or twice, that’s probably okay. But never over and over, that will just get you relegated to the back of someone’s Kindle, computer and Nook.
Want to make a living from your writing? Then be sure and price your self-published e-books to make a profit, not just to make readers happy because they’re getting a new book for free, or super cheap.