Chapter 35: How to Price Your Book & When to Set It to Free

You might not think of pricing as part of your marketing, but it definitely is.  One of the bonuses to self-publishing is that you have complete control over your price and can change it whenever you want based on how the sales are going.  Before we get into where your book price should lie, I’m going to go into Amazon’s different royalty plans via KDP (Kindle Direct Publishing).

KDP (Kindle Direct Publishing) has different royalty plans based on the format.  For paperback, you’ll automatically be set to 60% with a minimum price of $9.06, but please realize that 60% doesn’t include what they’re taking out for printing.  You can also do expanded distribution where your books becomes available to more readers through bookstores, online retailers, libraries, and academic institutions (for a hit of bringing your royalty down to 40%).  Although this is AMAZING and can definitely help expand your audience, just keep in mind that it just puts your book on a list, and Amazon doesn’t guarantee any extra sales.  It also increases your minimum price to $13.59.

­For eBooks, KDP lets you pick between two different royalty plans.  35% and 70%.  Of course, I would suggest using the 70% in most instances (duh, higher percentage means higher paycheck) but you can only select this option if your eBook is between $2.99 and $9.99.  If you’re writing a long series, I would highly recommend bringing the book down to 99 cents and doing the 35% royalty.  I’ll get more into ‘why’ later… I would also suggest looking at the global market places and bringing the to X.99 across the board.­

One of the bonuses to being self-published is that you have a lot less overhead compared to traditional publishing, as well as the fact you get a higher royalty per sale.  This means that we have the opportunity to change our prices a lot more depending on what we’re seeing on our sales report.

Non-fiction books tend to sell for higher than fiction.  Why?  Because the readers are generally looking for a book to answer one specific question for them, where for fictions the readers tend to shop continuously until they find something they like.  I would suggest checking the top 100 in your category and see with what price you can get away with.  Don’t sell your debut indie novel for $12 when even top sellers in your genre are selling for $8.

I would say the most common price for indie authors just starting out is $2.99 for eBooks and $9.99 for paperbacks.  As you build a loyal audience and start to have more steady purchases, start to up your price.  It’s all about supply and demand.  Once your readers know that they like your books, they’ll be willing to spend more because its quality is guaranteed.

If you can get your book cover artist to make a paperback cover, make your book paperback.  Amazon will produce the books for you.  I’ve done it for my books, and although they’re not the BEST quality, they’re still really good and seem sturdy.  Even if you see you’re not making the paperback sales, I would keep it up there.  Amazon tells its customers the prices of both, and seeing the eBook price compared to the higher paperback price will make your potential readers feel like they’re getting a better deal.

Take advantage of your independency with the price and price pulse.  Price pulsing is doing limited-time price changes for a specific sales period.  You lower your prices for a short time and promote the sale.  Blast it any venue you can find that you’re having a sale.  For Kobo and iBooks, you can schedule price changes in advantage, but you have to go in manually for Amazon.  Be sure to do this a few days earlier than your announced sales date, because it can sometimes take a few days to reflect the change.  Also, don’t forget for Amazon to go back in there to change it back to its normal price once the sale is over.

If you have multiple books out, use the opportunity to set your books to multiple price points.  It’s a great way to spread out your risk and see what works best.  I would definitely suggest the lower price points being at the beginning of your series and upping the price once you know you have the readers hooked.

A question I know a lot of authors ask is “how can a free book make me money?”  Or they think that by setting it to free, they’re undervaluing all of their hard work.  But think of a taste tester at a Publix (or other grocery store… sorry I’m from Florida!).  You try the delicious cheese or dessert for free, and next thing you know you’re buying the whole pack.  As a reader, why would you spend money on a book or series when you have no idea what to expect?  Especially when they can get another book from a big name author that they know they can trust for quality.  That’s why free works best with the first book in a series.  Get them invested in your characters for free, and then they’ll be handing you their money all series long.  In fact, some reports have shown that 60% of readers who buy a free book will go on to buy another book from the same author.

If you’ve recently finished a novel or are about to, and have questions where you should set that price point, comment below and I’ll do my best to help!

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