Writer’s Journal: More on Pricing

Welcome back to Austen Promises and the Writer’s Journal!

One of my friends was just contemplating changing the prices on some of her books, and that got me thinking once again about the pricing aspect of self-publishing. Yes, I did talk about this last month, but it’s a big topic that covers lots of area.

First, let me remind everyone of something I have already said in a previous post: at Amazon, to earn the maximum amount of royalties (70%), an author must price her book between $2.99 and $9.99. She can make it $.99 if she likes, but she only gets a 35% royalty if she does so, which means she makes $.34 or $.35 per sale. Sometimes, authors do price books at $.99 as a “loss leader.” Often, that is the first book in a series, though not always.

At other retailers than Amazon, this $2.99 to $9.99 rule doesn’t always hold true, but for most of us, Amazon comprises the largest amount of sales we get and so those are the rules we follow. I’m working on changing that for my own books, but it’s a slow process.

The issue that we most often have, that most frequently causes writers like myself to second-guess ourselves, is when we see the wildly different prices that authors charge. As I said in the previous post about pricing, my books range from $2.99 for the shortest, to $7.99 for the longest. I feel these are fair prices, based on the amount of work and time involved in writing and publishing each book. My longest book is right around 65,000 words.

However, there are authors with books almost twice as long as mine who charge half what I do. I have to wonder why. Do those authors not value their work as highly as I do mine? Are they hobby writers who are only doing it “for fun?” Often, these writers pay for editing, proofreading, covers, and formatting. I am mystified as to how they make enough to recoup the losses. I’d have to sell twice the books at $3.99 as I do at $7.99 to make the same money. I have done the math. I know.

Maybe, I think, they have done research and discovered that their buyers are only able to afford $3.99 or $4.99. I get that, I really do. I don’t honestly know who buys my books, and how much they make. I assume they can afford my prices, or I’d not sell books. And at the risk of sounding arrogant, I do sell books. I’d not have been able to quit teaching if I didn’t.

For the record, I am committed to free reading; I post all of my books on a fanfiction forum and excerpts from them on my blog. There have been times when I have posted entire books on the blog.

Anyway, I know of an author who has done this research and has determined that it’s upper middle-class women with disposable incomes who purchase and read her books, and she prices accordingly. She seems like she’s doing pretty well, so it must be working for her.

In the end, the concern I and some others have is that when a more popular author puts a much longer book than I do at half the price of mine, it undercuts my sales. So far I have not felt too much pressure to lower my prices, though I do price bundles at the bargain-basement level. However, it’s always in the back of my head when I put a new book out and it doesn’t sell like I think it should. I won’t do anything without a lot of prayer and thought put into it, though. 🙂

Come back next Wednesday for another peek into my journal! <3

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3 thoughts on “Writer’s Journal: More on Pricing

  1. Hi Zoe,

    I know for me, personally, I like to price my novels at $2.99 and my short stories at 99 cents. I currently have one short story set to “permafree” to attract new readers.

    I would love to charge more for my books, and I hope that one day I can. But the way I see it for now is that I am still relatively unknown.

    There are millions of good books out there, and for a reader to take a gamble on checking out something by Brent Jones, I have to be priced competitively enough to make it worth their while.

    It’s for that same reason that I keep my novels in the 50,000 to 60,000 range for word count. Again, it’s less of a commitment for a new reader to give me a try.

    It’s always an interesting topic of conversation, though. I suppose every self-published author has their own strategy.

    Thanks for the insightful read,


    • Thanks for sharing your thoughts with me, Brent!

      I do see your point. I like how you keep the novels short. Besides enticing new readers to try you, keeping them short kind of says, in a small way, “This is all you get for your $2.99.” You’ve got some fab reviews and a pretty good blurb for the newest book. It really sounds like readers like your books, so you definitely have that going for you. I think you’re going to do very well for yourself, if you continue on as you are. Keep up the good work! 🙂

      Another thought (for an introvert, I’m chatty sometimes LOL): I think genre might have something to do with pricing strategy, too. I am in a small, niche genre. I put my books in Classics with lots of other Jane Austen Fan Fiction. It’s a small category and many of the readers read only JAFF. Some won’t buy at all (they read for free on forums,) some don’t look at price when they buy, and some are in between. Some will buy everything and some will only buy authors who are in KU. It’s not easy to gain new readers in this genre, though I try.

      Thanks so much for sharing your strategy with me, and for taking the time to read my post! 🙂

      • Hi Zoe,

        Happy to share! I’m always looking to build relationships with other authors.

        Your point about length is valid. I have some longer books in the works, and I will be charging more for those.

        When you say newest book, which one are you referring to? I ask because I published two short stories in the past ten days or so, and I’ve only scratched the surface on marketing those.

        If you mean Fender, my newest novel, thanks! This was my second novel, published August 21, and it helped having a small ARC team in place for its release. Populated positive reviews on Amazon and Goodreads rather quickly.

        I appreciate your kind words and feedback.

        A chatty introvert? Trust me, I can relate.

        Yes, I imagine genre matters, too. Genre is always a tricky one for me. Everything I’ve published so far loosely fits into the contemporary / literary fiction categories. I’ve been told repeatedly to niche down if I want to find more commercial success. At the same time, I have to write stories I enjoy otherwise the whole task gets a bit tedious and uninspired.

        Pleased to connect with you.


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