How do you know if your book is priced correctly to move the maximum amount of copies? For some this might take some time and a little experimentation. One of the best things about being an indie author is we can set our price – and change it when we like.
How can you tell?
Authors, like J.A. Konrath as one example, are willing to share their numbers on their blogs. In one post J.A. Konrath did in June of 2009, listed the numbers for his books, and came to the following conclusions:
“1. Publisher releases vastly outsell author releases. This seems obvious, but a publisher can buddy-up with Amazon and get primo placement. Authors can’t do this on their own.
2. Price matters. All of my ebooks (even the poetry one) are on the genre bestseller lists, outselling name-brand authors. I’m sure this is because of price.
3. Being active on the Kindle forums, in newsletters, and on Amazon, may do more for sales than your cover, your description, your reviews, or even your writing. The key is to make people aware of your books. The more awareness there is, the more you’ll sell.
Once you’re on a bestseller list, that becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy. People browse the lists, see your book, buy your book, you stay on the lists.
4. Novels outsell short stories. It’s like this in print as well, but my numbers confirm it.
5. No one buys poetry. Even outrageously funny poetry.
6. My technothrillers are doing much better than my medical thriller and my crime novel. Is this because more Kindle owners like technothrillers? It seems so.”
And what do the readers think? Nathan Bransford did his own poll with his large following asking how much they thought an ebook should cost if the hardcover was $25.00. In 2010, the majority (45%) said between $10.00 and $14.99. However, less than a year later, the majority changed with 51% saying the price should be between $5.00 and $9.99. Nathan goes on to ask whether the difference was because of the unscientific nature of his poll or if it was some other reason readers changed their minds about what price they would pay. Perhaps readers take into account the lower overhead in the production cost of digital vs. paper books. The length of an e-book has no impact upon the cost of its production. This is not so with bound books.
What does this mean for writers? How can indie authors actually tell they set the optimal price to make the most profit and sales numbers?
Keeping up to date on your numbers is important (obviously) but it can be overwhelming with your numbers coming in from many different places. In order to keep it organized for you, keep an Excel sheet with the numbers – price, sales, and dates. Once you have a few numbers going, Excel has this nifty little feature that turns your numbers into a graph or chart – with just a few clicks. I’m a visual person so having the numbers in a colored graph is a great asset to me to see how well my book is doing.
What happens if your sales numbers aren’t where you’d like them to be? Try lowering the price a little. Many authors lower the price temporarily or even on a permanent basis to push sales. My husband has been a Manager in the hospitality industry for over 20 years. I always turn to him when it comes to pricing, as he is in tune with how to connect the seller with the buyer (aka the author and the reader). He told me to give any price for my book three to six months before changing it. This should allow you sufficient time to evaluate your book’s sales. Granted, the three to six month ‘rule’ does not apply to one time deals for a week or a day to celebrate something (like your birthday). That’s a whole ‘nother story!
If your profits aren’t where you’d like, raise the price a little. In J.A. Konraths’ post I mentioned above, he notes that he raised the price of one of his books from $1.49 to $1.89 and his sales actually went up!
It’s all about experimentation. Some authors, like John Locke hit it right the first time they try, while others need to tweak a little bit over time. Knowing your audience and doing the research is key here. Make sure you really know your market, who your readers are, and what they are willing to pay for your book. Looking at other authors in your same market can be helpful, but also keep in mind that what worked for them may not work for you.
Print vs E-Books
When you first figure out the cost of producing your books, you of course include the cost of printing. The high production costs of print books require publishers to print the book (paper and ink), sometimes warehouse it, and ship it out to buyers (for POD) or distributors. High costs of labor and material drive costs.
E-books don’t have these types of production cost to worry about. However, other overhead costs still do apply to e-book production, especially if professional editing services, cover design, and premium distribution channels are purchased. These costs should be taken into consideration when calculating price and profit margin.
So, should your e-book be the same price as your print book? Since you are the publisher and the writer, you get a higher percentage of your royalties than a traditionally published author in the first place. Nathan Branford’s poll brought up some interesting numbers for authors to think about. With a hardcover set at $25.00, readers will only pay $5.00 for the e-book version of the same story. That’s 20% of the hardcover price. Using that equation, if your hardcover is only $15.00, then you’ll probably want to set your e-book at around $3.00.
Remember to know your market, do your research. Experiment with different prices over a set period of time, to see if there is any difference in sales numbers and profit. Find that “magic number” – the one that gets you the most profits AND the most sales at the same time. Just as with writing your book, don’t give up at the first sign of difficulty. Keep an open mind, stay humble, and make changes as needed. In the end, you’re sure to succeed, one way or another.
Anastasia V. Pergakis is a fantasy author enchanting adults to remember that magic can still be real. Her debut novel, Cleanse Fire, Book One of the Kinir Elite Chronicles is available at Amazon US, Amazon UK, Amazon DE, Amazon Fr, Smashwords, and Barnes&Noble. Print versions – paperback and hardcover – will be available on Dec 21. You can pre-order your print version and learn more about the series at her website.