Sunday, December 11, 2011

Pricing eBooks – Is There Any One Best Way?

This month I decided to lower the price of the ebook copy of Red Mojo Mama to just $.99 as a holiday gesture. I expected there would be a bump in sales accompanying a lower price. Guess what? Not so much.

In fact, the lower price has not made any difference at all. Sales are ramping at the same pace as last month when the price was $2.99.

This shouldn’t have surprised me really, because I first offered RMM at $.99, following John Locke’s plan. When I realized I would have to sell 6 books to make the same amount of money as if I had sold one book at $2.99, I tentatively decided to try the $2.99 price. My sales did not suffer at all. They actually increased.

There has been a lot of talk on Twitter lately about pricing ebooks: from promotional free books to $.99 and then higher fees from $2.99 up. There is a divergence of opinion on the matter.

Free has worked for some authors in getting their names out there. Others feel free didn’t much impact on actual readers who then come back for more. The decision to price at $.99 seems to throw a book into the giant pond of books that some consider “less-than.”

I’ve personally priced two books at $.99 because they didn’t require the same level of effort as my novel – one is a collection of blog posts done over a couple of years and the other is a collection of short stories and poems written over a 10-year period. This seems fair to me. There are a number of single short stories out there for $.99 – which, again, seems fair to me.

I have made the decision that following the holidays, I will reinstate RMM’s price at $2.99 and it will stay there.

I’d love your feedback on this pricing issue. What do you think?


  1. I have been toying with pricing games as well. Statistically there are numerous reports from Harvard and Columbia professors that show discounts harm your brand rather than help, for example Groupon (now a failing brand) offers burst discounts but what really happens is sales increase then plummet after the discount because the percieved value is the lower number. I have a free book that I took down because it got pirated 200 sites. I have work available for free in magazines and online, but long form novels take me a year to produce. If someone asked me for a free copy, I would give it to them but I am holding a line on my new ebook priced high for an indie $3.99 The older ones are .99 paperbacks I haven't discounted I can sell hardback and paperbacks face to face at performances like pancakes

  2. Great feedback! Thanks Caroline - this is great info. Everything you've said resonates with me.

  3. This came at a great time. I was JUST reading an article that made me think I should have priced my book at .99. Glad to know it probably doesn't make a difference!

  4. I'm glad I read this post as well. I think that pricing books at .99 cheapens the value of the written word. While everyone likes a sale, if something is free or little to no cost, people don't value it. Once again, great observation.

  5. I suppose the next thing to try would be raising the price to $4.99 and seeing if that affected sales? You could even try a 'Buy it now at $2.99 because the price will be $4.99 next month'.

  6. Great post, Kathy. Pricing...? Who knows what lurks in the minds of buyers.

    I've kept my first 2 books at $2.99 and sales are good. Some writers hit the right combination but I think it's more marketing than pricing.

    For those that don't know: $2.99 is the minimum price for international distribution with Kindle.

    Once people get to know you and the quality of your work then I thing dropping the price on older books will help the new books.

    I have a new Fantasy coming out soon and I will lower the price on my YA novel to help draw readers to me. We'll see. I also had a professional cover done for my YA novel, Tyler Hill's Decision and I'm sure the new look will catch readers eyes.

    I hope you find the combination and then share it with me. Your books are quality writing and that is the one thing that will see you through. If its done well there will come a time when the word spreads!

    I wish you great success!

  7. I think you should price books at what you think they're worth. Anything under $4.99 sounds about where I would buy. Saw your blog on Twitter.

  8. This is an excellent topic, one that I don't think will go away. I had my first novel at $2.99 and there was only a boost in sales on Amazon when I did some costly promotion, but nothing much through the other sites. My second novel was released on December 1, 2011. I originally had it priced at $2.99 but my associate suggested that I bring all my eBooks down to $0.99. I did some promotion to spread the word and there was a huge sales boost that hasn't let up yet on both Amazon and even more on As a result sales of my debut novel also picked up. I don't like the idea of pricing my novel so low because it cost me roughly $2000 to produce (editing, formating, cover design, etc). If sales continue the way they are and or increase exponentially, then my next novel will be at $2.99 if not more.