Ebook Prices: Are You Sending the Right or Wrong Message?

The current thinking in most indie author circles goes a little like this when it comes to ebook pricing: how low can you go? While big name publishers came out of the fight against Amazon's price gouging thinking big and pricing big, indie authors have yet to change their model. Because it works, right? Not always. I learned this the hard way.

I mentioned in previous post that when I lowered the price on the Special Edition of Into the Darkness, I noticed a sharp decline in sales. There were additional factors that fantasy readers I asked identified, but I learned some surprising things when it comes to price.

Low price doesn't always confer "good bargain".

Of the readers I asked, about half said they only buy .99 ebooks when trying out a new fantasy author. Why? Because so many new authors' works are bad. (This is their opinion, not mine.) So they don't want to potentially waste their money on a lot of bad books. Authors they like, they will pay more to get those ebooks.

The half that didn't say they only buy really cheap ebooks also said it was a quality issue. But in this case, they said that cheap ebooks signaled a lack of quality to them, regardless of the newness of the author. So they avoid cheap ebooks.

In essence, both groups are saying the same thing -- cheap ebooks might signify the books are bad. Some enter into the relationship with low expectations, others don't enter into the relationship at all.

What is cheap for one genre doesn't translate to all others.

Each genre has its floor. Below that, the quality message comes into play.

How do you know what that floor is? Look at Kindle books on the bestseller list for your genre.

For romance and erotica: The top 5 titles ranged in price from .99 to 4.99, meaning .99 is the floor. Bad news for romance writers.

For mystery and thrillers: Only one of the top 5 titles wasn't 4.99, and that outlier was 14.99. This is great news for mystery writers, because anything less that 4.99 is going to get less attention, so price yourself at a healthy 4.99.

For fantasy writers: I actually had to go above the top 10, because bestsellers 1 - 10 were all Harry Potter books, making them a false sample. Titles 11 - 16, however, not one of them was priced below 2.99. This explains why my non-special edition didn't even get the time of day at 1.99. It was simply too cheap to be noticed.

So the next time you're thinking about how to price your ebook, think about what message you want to send. Do you want to say, hey, this book is cheap, PLEASE try it? Or do you want to say, hey, this book is priced just right for you to take a chance?

A.M.