Why I’ll Be Pricing my eBook, ‘Baby Grand,’ at $2.99

As a reader, I think many eBooks are overpriced.

In my mind, there’s no reason for an eBook to be more expensive than a paperback. And when I find that it is, I will buy the paperback, even if I originally intended on buying the eBook.

For me, as a buyer, the magic price point for an eBook purchase is $4.99. I generally will not pay more than that.

So when it came time to price my own eBook, Baby Grand, I figured that would be the magic price point: $4.99. Case closed.

Imagine my surprise when my literary agent, during a discussion of price, suggested we sell Baby Grand for $2.99 — with a promotional price point of $1.99.

What?! Two bucks?

As a professional writer who has been paid a dollar PER WORD of an article, the idea of selling my entire novel (all 93,000+ words of it) for $1.99 totally freaked me out. My first thought was, This can’t be right. I worried about the perceived value of my product. Won’t readers think it’s cheap or (gasp!) worthless if they only pay $1.99 for it? I can’t breathe. Somebody get me a brown paper bag…

I spent a weekend mulling it over and researching — lots of researching. And in the end, I knew my agent was right.

Here’s why:

1. I am a new author. Yes, I’ve been a writer/editor for 20 years, but this is my first dip into the fiction pool. Readers don’t know me. But I want them to get to know me. And if the price is right, they’ll be more willing to take a chance. That price of $4.99 that I mentioned before, my own eBook price ceiling? The more I thought about it, the more I realized that’s what I would pay for a book written by an ESTABLISHED author — a popular, if not best-selling, author. I thought about whether I would try a brand-new writer for that price, and the answer was probably not (which is so funny to me, because I’ll plunk down $20 in Target to buy garbage, but I won’t pay $4.99 on Amazon for an eBook penned by a new author).

2. Today’s market demands competitive pricing. There are several factors that will attract readers to your book (probably in this order):

  • Your book’s title
  • Your book’s cover
  • Your book’s synopsis
  • Your book’s price
  • Your book’s reviews

Once your title and book jacket catch the readers’ eye and get them to your page, they will probably read your book summary. And if they are still interested, they’ll take a gander at the price and then, perhaps, read the reviews to see if they should buy. Price is an important part of this equation, particularly because, let’s face it, there are TONS of books being sold for 99 cents. And they’re also being given away for free. (I think I might need that paper bag again…) In some reading circles, $1.99 or $2.99 is the top of the market, and I didn’t want to price myself out of that market.

3. A book’s price tag is not about what you think your book is worth, but about what people are willing to pay. This was probably my biggest hurdle. I had to change the way I thought about price. I had to get those infomercials out of my head. As my agent said to me, “The low price coupled with the blurbs and the fact that you are already published by a major house will bash the perception that your book is ‘cheap’ in every sense of the word.” Gosh, I hope so.

The great thing about self-publishing, though, is we can change our pricing to follow the market. But while down the road, I may be able to boost my selling price a dollar or two, right now I want to connect with as many readers as possible, so $2.99 it is. My hope is that once I get folks to take a chance on me, they’ll like what they read and come back for more.

What do you think? Readers, how much would you pay for an eBook written by a new author? Authors, what is the price of your eBook?

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16 thoughts on “Why I’ll Be Pricing my eBook, ‘Baby Grand,’ at $2.99

  1. Well, I’m so glad you made an argument for 2.99 because that’s what I did as well, and for all the same reasons.

    I’ve been told once so far that my price is too cheap, but I think I’ll stick with it for now.

  2. Great article, Dina. I’ve priced my novel at $4.99 and 99 cents and have ultimately found $2.99 is my magic point as well. I made almost $1,000 in the month of Feb, so that works just fine for me. It’s way more than I expected to make on one novel after just a few months of its release. All the best to you and your Baby.

  3. In my opinion, going *between* $.99 and $2.99 is a complete waste – I’d suggest not doing a $1.99 sale price. You make 35% royalty, so you’d need to sell 3 times as much as you would at $2.99. I’m still surprised $1.99 is out there. I think readers who want a book won’t differentiate between $1.99 and $2.99, and it’s quite a bit more in your pocket.

    Interestingly enough, I’ve got a poll going on today on my site with close to 200 responses, and the price point people feel is fair to pay skews quite a bit higher than $1.99, or even $2.99. Leader right now is $4-$4.99.

    And $.99 is going by the wayside, I believe – readers know it’s the bargain bin.

    http://steveumstead.com/2012/04/11/what-is-a-fair-price-for-a-novel-length-ebook/

    • Hey, Steve! You really think that 99 cent books are going by the wayside? It’ll be interesting to see. I have to say that it freaks me out to see so many authors giving their books away for free — I understand the motivation, but I just don’t think it’s the way to go. For many reasons. As for the $1.99 sale price, I want to give a little somethin’ somethin’ to my early buyers. :) Thanks, as always, for stopping by!

      • Honestly I do – even the big names in self-pub (Konrath, Dean Wesley Smith, etc) have gotten away from $.99 (especially DWS – he’s $2.99 and up even for shorter works). I think there’s a perception among readers, that “self pub is crap” perception that still lingers, that $.99 means junk, and many would rather invest the cost of a latte into a good book.

        I hate this free train going on (KDP Select) – I think it’s created a freebie mindset among a huge number of readers who now expect free, won’t buy anything not free, and fill their Kindles with dozens after dozens of freebies, thereby filling their TBR lists and never buying anything.

        I see more and more shift towards $3.99-$4.99 for novels, putting them on sale maybe at $2.99.

        If it’s a series, doing big discount for book 1 (even free) to bring the reader into the series to buy more, but not a good pricing strategy for an author with only one book.

        Congrats on publishing – best of luck!!

      • BTW – does this literary agent realize you have to sell 3 times as many at $1.99 as $2.99 to make the same royalty amount? It’s not just a dollar off sale, it’s 1/3 the income.

  4. Hi Dina,

    I don’t have an e-book so not sure how I would price it. But I’ve read that people who price their book low and even free for promotion have been successful. Good luck! In my eyes, it’s a great deal and look forward to reading your book.

  5. Thanks for the article and the comments on this Ebook subject. I recently completed a book and soon-to-be published by Ebook. I’m not even bothering looking for a publisher. My market is tight, targetting Muslims and it’s nonfiction rather than fiction. It was read by William McKeen, author of several published books including his most recent Mile Marker Zero, who said, “it should be successful.” Yes, I am lucky enough to have had him as my journalism professor at UF. It will also have a foreword by a Muslim attorney. But, I believe an Ebook is the way to go if you don’t want to bother with publishers. I really believe it’s time for publishers to chase writers down rather than writers chasing publishers. We’re important; we are the writers.
    Najah Jabbar Aboud
    iMatchUSAMuslim.com

    • I love it when you say “it’s time for publishers to chase writers down rather than writers chasing publishers.” I never really thought about it like that, but with the rise of self-publishing that time may indeed be here. Thanks for stopping by!

  6. Hi Dina, thanks once again for sharing your journey, so interesting to hear all this stuff, it truly is a fantastic blog. Great to hear all the views above too. As a debut author in the UK, I’ve put the book out at 99p as it’s YA and largely for the same reasons you mentioned above, because I’m a new writer. I have had advice from all quarters about where to publish and at what price and your decision seems sound from my perspective. I don’t profess to know any answers, but If you put a professionally finished book out there, in terms of editing and formatting, you can then allow the story to be judged on its merit, knowing you have given it a chance. The rest is down to the taste of the reader and that is something no-one can control and nor should they. Amid the frenzy that is the publishing process it’s really important to sit back and look at your book and ask yourself, aside from everything else, am I proud and happy to release this and do I want other people to read it. If the answer is yes, then trust your gut on all the other decisions. The main focus should always be the book for me. I’m looking forward to picking up my copy of Baby Grand, Dina and can’t wait to see it on my Kindle. Thanks for being there for me during this time. Your blog has been a source of information and inspiration. Cheers.

    • Hey, Tom! So glad you’re enjoying the blog, and thank you for sharing your experiences as a debut author. I agree with you that it’s important to “trust your gut” when making a decision; I usually make the best decisions that way. And then for all those things that are beyond our control, all we can do is hope for the best. :)

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