One of the tougher tasks is attempting to figure out the right price to ask for your book. I personally believe my books are worth the same price as any traditionally published paperback currently in the bookstore. Then I have moments when I simply freak out and, based solely on the fact that I’m self-publishing, think they should only be $2.99.
There does not appear to be any type of standard in pricing, which only makes coming up with the right amount more onerous. I finally had to think of pricing on three different levels and then weigh my novels against the others in those areas.
Traditionally published vs. self-published. It appeared to me that most traditionally published novels (paperbacks) range in price between $7 and $13. The eBook version of these novels are the same price range. Self-published novels by previously published and known print authors seem to be priced at between $4 and $9. Most self-published authors who are new to the publishing world are well under $5, and the bulk of them are under $3.
Barry Eisler is a well-known author who left traditional publishing and went his own way.
Hard Rain by Barry Eisler (Kindle Edition) $7.99 pub’d 2003 – traditional publisher.
The Detachment by Barry Eisler (Kindle Edition) $5.99 pub’d 2011 – self-published.
Content/Volume. Most writers are avid readers. We know what we are willing to pay for certain books. I’ve mentioned before that I’m annoyed as hell when I buy a book for $4 and it turns out to be a damn novella. By the same token, I’m ecstatic when I get a well written novel for that price. I’m not a Harlequin reader, but I’m conscious of the fact that Harlequin sells their 45,000 words or less novels for $6.99 and up. They are a good example of that “known quantity” that I mentioned. Harlequin’s readers know what they are getting and are willing to pay for it.
However, I’m an unknown. So even though my volume/content is greater (70-90k), I can’t charge that much. I still need to stay under $5 so readers will take a chance on me.
Perceived Value. We’ve discussed this before. If I don’t value my work then you won’t either. Most of my friends have the perception that anything under $2.99 is probably not well written and unlikely to be edited properly. But, they are also unlikely to pay more than $5 for an author they aren’t familiar with.
So where is the sweet spot?
I think I’m worth more rather than less. I may not be everyone’s cup of tea, but I tell a decent story and my editors work hard to make sure that story is readable.
When you sit down with one of my novels, you are going to spend a minimum of several hours consuming that book. Surely, I am worth more than the thirty minutes and $5.89 that you are willing to spend for a Wendy’s single with fries and a drink. Am I not worth the time and money you would spend for a white mocha Frappuccino from Starbucks? Should I consider myself to be worth less than an Oreo Blizzard? Okay, maybe I went a step too far with that one. But the reality is that while those things might be momentarily satisfying they will leave no lasting impression on you except for the inches they add to your waistline.
I believe my novels are worth more than a cup of coffee or a meal deal from a fast food restaurant. And dare I say it? Yes. Yes, I do. My novel is worth more than an Oreo Blizzard.