This question was brought into focus for me recently. I meet with a group of friends (20 -25 of us) once a month over a meal and a few glasses of wine. And of course one of the things I get asked is ‘how’s the writing, sold another book yet?’ cue good natured banter. I of course reply by admonishing those who haven’t had the good grace to buy and read my books. This time, however, someone asked how much it was. ‘The equivalent of $2.99,’ I said and explained the vagaries of Amazon’s pricing that sees us authors getting 30% not 70% of the sales price if we go below that. In the UK with VAT (which now has to be included) that is £2.23.
The comment was then ‘That’s a lot’. I admit this hit me hard. I asked what they thought a fair price would be, which produced a series of shrugs while one kind person added that most books on the high street are £5.00 – £6.00. It seemed to me that by pricing at $2.99 the assumption was that my kindle book was of a lesser quality, not a ‘real book’ and therefore even at $2.99 it was overpriced. Strange logic I know, but there you are. I of course countered that this is less than a coffee on the high street and less than the price of a drink in a bar. Also what else can you give you so much value and entertainment for just over £2.00? Now I may not be a J K Rowling but the time and effort that goes into my books is on a similar level. In the end they all agreed, although I don’t think they have all then rushed out and bought them.
But it does beg the question what is the right price for a self-published/Kindle book (or any other e-book for that matter)? I did some price research when I launched my first two books, but in the end settled at that $2.99 level because it was the lowest price with a 70% return and I considered getting about $2.00 for each book sold a reasonable return. Looking at Kindle prices I suspect many other self-publishing authors do the same. But if I’m honest there’s no real ‘pricing logic’ behind that decision. But how do you select a price?
A thought I did have at the time is, it is low enough that people might take a chance on an unknown author. Also, personally, I feel $0.99 says you don’t think much of your own work, unless it’s clear that that is an ‘offer’ price.
So is the perceived value of a self-publishing author’s work less than someone well known and marketed through a traditional publishing house? It would seem so. Although recently even popular books from publishing houses are offered at discount prices or even free if they’re trying to get you interested in a series. So for my new book I guess I’ll be starting at that $2.99 again unless I can find a compelling argument for something different.
As always, comments, thoughts and ideas are welcome.