eBook Pricing, or how much is your eBook worth?

For those that have been around since the beginning of Self-Published Author’s Lounge you know that I’ve never posted more than once a week and never one day after the other, but today is different because after reading the comments on What Do you Think is a Fair Price for an eBook? I really wanted to post these links and I didn’t want to wait until my next scheduled posting date. 😀

I know that eBook pricing isn’t a simple thing. Deciding how much your book is worth can be a practice in patience. So how do you find the eBook sweet spot? Rather than repeat what others have said about eBook pricing, I thought I would post the links to their articles.

“…Writing fiction is my living. It’s what puts food on my table and pays my bills. If I ever can’t make a living doing it, I have to STOP doing it, and go do something else. This is not complicated. If we lived in some free hippie love culture where money didn’t exist, sure, I would write for free, just to share my words and be thrilled doing it. I’m not “in it for the money”. I just “need the money” for it to be worth it in the world we live in for me to put so much effort into entertaining you…” Ebook Pricing: Or… Where Zoe Says Something About Publishing

“…Naturally, people would rather pay less for something than more. And in a digital world, like we’re rapidly becoming, consumers have shown consistently in other forms of media that they place less value on downloads than on physical products…” The Value of Ebooks

“…But what to set the price at? Is Joe Konrath right about the $2.99 price for a full novel? But I heard another author got great sales on a full novel at 99 cents. And yet another getting great sales at over $6.00 prices. Authors are confused because up until this time in history, setting a book price was never a question they had to face…” E-book Price Post Redone by Dean Wesley Smith

…Halfway through the month I lowered the price to $2.99 and then to $0.99. Did I sell more books? Yes, I did…Now, you could argue that more books sold will create a larger pool for the “word of mouth” that you hope will spread the news of your great read. And for authors with a large back list–those who are able to put out many titles simultaneously–that strategy is certainly one worth taking a look at because they have the advantage of volume… Guest Post by Elle Lothlorien

So how do you find the eBook sweet spot? Well, no one author can tell you that, because like reading, pricing is subjective. But we can share how we would price our books. Until the end of February all my books have been placed on sale for $.99, however, my usual pricing guide is:

eBook Price eBook Length
Short Shorts FREE Under 6K
Shorts $0.99 6,000 to 12,000 words
Short Stories $1.99 12,000 to 20,000 words
Novelettes $2.99 20,000 to 30,000 words
Novellas $3.99 30,000 to 50,000 words
Novels $4.99 50,000 to 75,000 words
Super Novel $5.99 75,000 to 140,000 words
Super XL Novels $6.95 140,000 to 250,000 words
Super XXL Novels $7.95 250,000+ words

21 thoughts on “eBook Pricing, or how much is your eBook worth?

  1. John Hayden February 16, 2012 / 6:40 pm

    Thank you. Great information. One caveat. A very short but excellent novel — say “The Old Man and the Sea” — should command a higher price than a 100,000- word novel of lesser quality.

    • Stephannie Beman February 17, 2012 / 3:36 am

      But quality is really subjective. It rests in the eyes of the readers, just as price is in the hands of the publishers.

  2. Theresa M Moore February 16, 2012 / 8:10 pm

    I like your chart and it makes sense. As soon as I have updated my covers I’m going to repost at the prices you suggest. I typically would like to price my ebooks at 1/2 to 1/3 the price of the softcover, and there is one that should be $12.99 but the best I can hope for is $9.99. I think it will slow down sales a bit but since I’m not doing that well, I’m no Amanda Hocking but my writing is better than most. It’s time I got paid what the work is really worth.

    • Stephannie Beman February 17, 2012 / 3:47 am

      Thank you. I like my chart too. 😀

      It helps keep things consistent when pricing eBooks. What I usually do for a print book is add the amount it costs me for printing through my printer (Createspace) to my eBook price for the book and round up. As an example, My Lord Hades was a 90,000+ word book. I usually price the eBook at $5.99 (it’s on sale right now so it’s lower) add the $5.97 for printing and the print book would be $13.99.

      As for Amanda Hocking, only she can be Amanda Hocking and why would you want to be her. You’re Theresa M. Moore and you have your own unique qualities. You just have to find them and use them to sell books. 😀

  3. Ruth Ann Nordin February 17, 2012 / 12:11 am

    Zoe Winters makes a valid point. We need to eat, pay bills, keep a roof over our head, etc. Writing is work. Some days I feel like I’m pulling teeth to make my word count, and I’m sure other authors understand what I mean when I say that I work harder and longer hours than I ever did at any other job (except for motherhood). I work all hours of the day, on holidays, on weekends… Whether I’m thinking of what to write next or actually writing, there is work going on. So yes, this work should be compensated if the writer is going to be able to keep writing. It’s not about greed. It’s about wanting to be paid so we can keep working at a job we love. There’s nothing wrong with that.

    Elle Lothlorien also makes an excellent point. The more books you have out there, the more flexible you can be on your pricing. I now have 22 romances out there, so I can price a couple for free and opt keep some at $0.99. These are not my income makers. They are for word of mouth and exposure. The $2.99 ones have been the ones that have allowed me to pay the bills to support my family, and with a husband ready to retire, this becomes very important. Having many books out also allows me to make living at a lower price per book. It’s also why my main focus is writing and publishing, so I can get more books out there to keep making a living so I can keep writing instead of going outside the home to earn the income (back to what Zoe said).

    When pricing, every author has to look at their circumstances and decide what will help them make a living because writers do deserve to make money off their work, and with self-publishing, I truly believe more authors have a chance to make a living off of writing than they’ve ever had the chance to with traditional pubishing. There’s nothing wrong with setting the price at the point that yields the greatest benefit. This is something only the writer and the readers in their target audience can decide.

    • Stephannie Beman February 17, 2012 / 3:55 am

      Amen to it all! When pricing books “There’s nothing wrong with setting the price at the point that yields the greatest benefit. This is something only the writer and the readers in their target audience can decide.” This is so true and I couldn’t have said it better. *clasp hands loudly* 😀

  4. maudestandard February 17, 2012 / 4:18 pm

    One thing that I think hurts Indies who publish is those giving their books away for free.
    How can you take a writer seriously if he/she doesn’t value his/her work enough to charge for it.
    It also makes Indies look as if we are fooling around and not serious about books that we write.

    • Stephannie Beman February 17, 2012 / 5:49 pm

      Giving away a book or story for free is a marketing strategy that is used in all businesses. I know that when I go to the grocery store, many times they provide samples of food or drinks for the customers in the hopes that they buy more. Giving a sample, sometimes this is a short story or a novel, for free is done in the hopes that readers will test it out and then buy more of the author’s books.Many of the traditional publishing companies do the same.

      As for the value of a book and the writer, it all depends on your goals as a writer. Some writers I know don’t care if they make money, they just want to write the story and share it. Other authors I know want to make money off their work to support their writing habit. Their goal is a career as an author, not a hobby as a writer.

    • Ruth Ann Nordin February 17, 2012 / 8:50 pm

      If that’s true, then why do traditional publishing houses do it? When I scan free titles on Amazon, I see some of them are from publishers. It seems to me if free was not an effective tool, the publishers wouldn’t be doing it. Free is a strategy, and if you use it effectively and have non-free books that resonante with readers, it’s a strategy that works very well. If you don’t want to give a book away for free, then don’t. No one is telling you what to do. But I don’t appreciate the way you made a blanket statement on how readers perceive authors who go free. I have had a lot of feedback from readers, and not one of them has said I look like I’m not serious because I have a couple of books for free. The way you perceive free is not the way many readers perceive it. To them, free is a chance to sample your work, and Mark Coker at Smashwords has learned that free works effectively for full-length novels. Sample chapters don’t work as well.

  5. Chip Anderson February 17, 2012 / 5:35 pm

    I like the chart.

    I do not see why an ebook should cost over $8.

    • Stephannie Beman February 17, 2012 / 5:51 pm

      Like many have said before, it depends on the book and the market. My chart was based on fiction writing and not non-fiction. Non-fiction seems to be able to get away with higher prices then fiction. It could have to do with the research involved. For fiction I agree, it makes little sense that it would cost more than $8.

  6. Cyn Bagley February 17, 2012 / 5:58 pm

    I don’t agree with the free – 😉 unless you have a giveaway planned. So put a couple of the short shorts together and sell them for .99 cents.


    PS – the rest of the chart is spot on –

    • Stephannie Beman February 17, 2012 / 6:12 pm

      😀 Thank you. I don’t think I’ve ever written a short short, My short stories end up being over 7,000 words or turn into novels. LOL

  7. Morgan Curtis February 18, 2012 / 5:45 am

    I’m still working on my first novel, so I have no personal experience with pricing, but I’m getting close enough to publishing to need to start thinking about it. I found this very helpful. Thank you.

    As far as the free pricing goes, I think that for people with a lot of titles it’s a great idea. In fact, I came to this website after reading Ruth Ann’s free books and have found the site to be helpful and encouraging. The same goes for her books. I doubt that anyone who has read her free books could possibly reach the conclusion that she isn’t serious or is ‘fooling around’.

    • Stephannie Beman February 18, 2012 / 2:13 pm

      Good luck on your novel when you publish it. I’m glad the post was helpful to you. And you’re welcome.

      I agree with you. It’s easier for those authors with a lot of titles to part with few free books then those of us with fewer titles. And I don’t think that giving away books for free equals not serious about writing or ‘fooling around’. It’s a business move and little more. I think that if a writer gave all their book away for free, I might think that this was a hobby for them and not a career choice, but that’s about all.

    • Ruth Ann Nordin February 18, 2012 / 8:10 pm

      Thank you, Morgan. I appreciate that. 🙂

  8. maudestandard February 18, 2012 / 7:50 pm

    Indie publishing isn’t mainstream yet.
    It needs to gain credibility.
    Amanda Hocking gave writers hope for YA. She sold a lot of books.
    I work at writing. It isn’t a hobby.
    I didn’t work at jobs for free and I don’t write for free.
    There are a lot of free ebooks at Amazon. You have to go through Smashwords to make a book free on B&N.
    I don’t care if a writer wants to give away their work.
    The writer who has a trad publisher has a contract and doesn’t lose money if a trad pub gives a book away. Galleys are used to get reviews. They also can be used by libraries to see if they want to order the books.
    Trad publishers are established.
    I am not in favor of loss leaders. With products, the consumer pays for them. It is in the price of the item.
    That would also go for the established publishers. The freebies are included in the price of a book.

    • Ruth Ann Nordin February 18, 2012 / 8:13 pm

      I don’t like to give out numbers, but in this case I’ll do it. Last year I made $133,000 from my books. If you want to say that I don’t have a marketing strategy that works, then fine. I’ll let my numbers speak for me.

      • maudestandard February 19, 2012 / 4:15 pm

        I am not being personal in any way toward you.
        You are taking it that way. I was stating my opinion.
        I go back and forth with a lot of writers online.
        It is a good to argue points to clarify an issue.

  9. Stephannie Beman February 19, 2012 / 8:44 pm

    Thank you everyone who commented on this post. Comments are now closed. 😀

Comments are closed.