What if Indie authors, as a community, developed a method for fair ebook pricing?
Have you ever gotten frustrated at the price of a book? For example, have you thought you would save paper and money by purchasing the ebook version, only to see it is almost the same price as the print version? Seriously, what gives?! Also, take into account that this price gouging usually happens with traditionally published books, yet Indie authors get grief for their rates. If a Big Six publisher can charge $9.99 for an ebook, why does an Indie get flack for charging less, like say, $4.99? Also, why is it some Indies charge $4.99 for a 150-page book while others charge $1.99? It seems like an ethical pricing structure is overdue, and we Indies should be willing to lead the revolution! Why us? Well, frankly because the Big Six publishers know we are a force to be reckoned with, and more and more they are looking at us to lead the way.
Most Indies consider the standard pricing structure for ebooks to be 99 cents for 0-99 pages, 100-199 pages is $1.99, and above that is $2.99 to $4.99, depending on size and demand. For really big books, $4.99 is not unreasonable. Now keep in mind that by page count I am talking true content, not including ads and filler.
Now let’s talk about something that will help your bottom line—eliminating free promos.
When you give away your book you are giving away your entire product. Can you show me another industry that gives away their entire product as much as Indie authors do? If a store offers a book at 66% off, don’t you think that is a great deal? They are practically giving it away! (They aren’t. Everyone is still making something off of the sale. Also, they are charging something for it because it has value.) Isn’t putting a $2.99 ebook on sale for 99 cents the same, deeply discounted, deal? Yes, while it is like throwing your book in the bargain bin, you are still making something off of the killer deal because the book has value.
Now tell me how you see your free book.
If a deeply discounted book is considered a bargain bin deal, what is a free book considered?
Why does Amazon allow you to give away books if they don’t make money off of them? Actually, they do make money. If that book is given away elsewhere, the customer will follow it; thus, if Amazon does not also offer the book for free, they could lose out on other sales. Amazon understands that even if the author doesn’t make a penny, they still can. The author, a.k.a. the one who did all the work and paid to create the product, is the one who loses.
Charging $2.99 for a 300+ page novel for which we spent a thousand dollars in writing, editing, proofing, and creating a cover is not unreasonable. An occasional sale of 99 cents is fine, but why do we need to lower ourselves to giving away our hard work? How many times have we seen resulting reviews like, “This book is terrible. Normally I would not have picked it up, but it was free”? Don’t forget the infamous, “I want to read that book so badly, but I will wait until it is free.” Really? For a book that costs less than a Starbuck’s fix? People will buy a liquid candy bar, and maybe even tip the staff for a minute of work, but they won’t spend less money on a book that will take them hours, possibly even days, to read. Why are we authors encouraging this behavior?
Yes, this is our fault. We are enablers. If we would stop giving away our work, people would stop expecting to get something for nothing. They would also stop leaving bad reviews based on how much they hated a book they normally never would have considered opening but did so because we made it too easy.
I know a lot of authors are concerned about exposure. How are Indies supposed to get attention? Well, you have to pimp that freebee, right? That’s the same thing as pimping a sale. The only difference is with a 99 cents sale, people will actually read the blurb before buying the book instead of clicking because they like the cover and then possibly hating the content, not to mention then leaving a bad review because the book did not gel with them.
If you still want to try a free promo, how about giving away a short story related to one of your books? Let the reader have a reason to buy something. (BTW – Giving a real sample rarely works. I know a lot of authors who have participated in first chapter freebees. The number of downloads were disappointing because people don’t want to read a partial story.)
The system needs to stabilize. Charging even a small amount shows that we believe our product has value. Indies are often seen as people who produce bad work in an effort to swindle a fast buck. Imagine how uniting under a code of quality that reflects our value would help lift the stigma of being an Indie. We deserve to be taken seriously.
Amazon might be on to something. I’d like to thank Tracey Lyons for pointing out something on Amazon’s site:
What price will Kindle Worlds charge readers for stories?
Amazon Publishing will set the price for most works between $0.99 and $3.99.
Amazon is setting the price, and I don’t see the word free there. Amazon wants you to always pay for fan fiction. Kind of tells you a little something.