Is there a set price an indie author must set for a copy of their eBook? I ask because I see different ranges from various authors, and I'm not sure if it varies by the state in which you live, or how many pages the eBook is, what type of file has to be downloaded, etc.?
Any advice would be greatly appreciated! Thanks.
Kimberly Ranee Hicks, Author/Poet
Indie authors may choose to price their book however they like. The number of pages doesn't matter, there's cost on the book only if it's being bought in a different country (for some sites, others don't have this) or they can even be given out for free. States don't matter either, the price is up to them. Some sites may put restrictions on which books they will carry for a price, but other than that anything can be charged.
Amanda Hocking only prices the first book in each series at 99 cents. The other books in the series are $2.99. I don't consider that cutthroat, I consider it a smart marketing strategy. And where is it written in stone that $4.99 is a standard "fair market value"?
I also disagree with your assumption that trad publishers pricing ebooks at $13-$19 is to widen the gap between indies and trads. It has more to do with their bottom line than anything else.
Kimberly, do your homework and price your book at what *you* think it should be. It may take some experimenting to find the sweet spot price for your book. You might want to check out J.A. Konrath's blog if you haven't been there yet. He has a lot of information about book pricing and other aspects of indie publishing. There is also a lot of debate there so you get a lot of different viewpoints, not just his.
It is not anger Shawn, so please don't go there. I am discussing.
You made a generalized statement that $4.99 is a fair market value. If it is fair market for you, fine. I just don't think there is anything that says it is a standard and your statement made it sound like that.
I think both indies and trads, in general, throw around a lot of language to discredit the other. And I still don't think that one book at .99 is undercutting. Setting lower prices on some titles can help the industry because it can encourage readers who may not otherwise touch an indie book to give it a try. If they read it and like it then they will try more and spread the word...and that helps all indie authors. If there is anything that hurts the indie industry it is poor proofreading and editing. It is probably the biggest complaint I hear.
Book pricing is a touchy subject. Each author will price their book at what they think is fair and each reader will spend what they think is fair. Sometimes those two things will overlap and sometimes they won't, but in the end it is the reading/buying public that will determine what the fair market value is.
Of course they saw profit in Amanda. They are a business and that is their goal, to make money.
Your analogy doesn't work for me. Comparing print books to ebooks and trads to indies is comparing apples to oranges. You can't say a mass market print book sells for $7.99 so an indie ebook should sell for that as well. Indies do not have the huge overhead and operational costs that a NY pub has. In addition, the indie author gets a huge royalty compared to what a trad author would get for the same priced book. Instead of looking at list price, you need to look at what you are actually making on the book. Your royalty on a $4.99 book is way more for your hard work than a trad is making on a $7.99 or $9.99 book for their hard work. Even at $2.99, you are making more. This is the benefit of an indie author. They can offer their books at a lower price and still make more royalty per book than a traditional author. And your book will never go out of print unless you remove it yourself, unlike a trad author whose book can go out of print and stop selling within a short time. Your book has a never ending earning potential.
Also, you talk about the public being conditioned into accepting only a low price, but I don't think it is any more fair in trying to condition the public to accept higher prices than reasonable (and I don't mean .99 as reasonable). I have my own price limits based on my own reasons and I won't be "conditioned" either way.
In the end, you need to do what you think is best for you as a writer, and I need to do what is best for me as a reader/buyer. If I find an indie author I really like then I'm willing to pay more for their books, with limits, but I've read enough indies to know that there is still a lot of risk out there for quality. I'm more likely to give someone a try if they offer their first book for 99 cents. But if their book was priced at $4.99 then I probably wouldn't try it if they are unknown to me. Only once did I take a plunge and buy a completely unknown to me indie author for $4.99, but I had other factors to base it on and I trusted my gut, which fortunately was accurate and now she is one of my favorites.
How does Amazon do better on vetting? As far as Smashwords vs. Amazon... I don't think Amazon is any better at vetting except that you will find more reviews there since it is "the place to go" for books and you don't have to buy the book to review it, but the reviews are often questionable in my opinion. If readers just followed smart indie buying habits they would be able to make better choices regardless of where they buy it.
Shawn, I think we just need to agree to disagree on most points. I could respond to your points some more, but we could go on about this forever. And honestly, I'd just rather be reading :-D
You gave me much "food for thought" which is a series I host on Facebook, so this was very interesting for me. I love all the information you and Shawn gave me. This is the type of feedback I was searching for in aiding me to sell my books in ebook format and charging a reasonable and fair price. I am going to continue to do my homework on this matter before my site goes live, but I definitely appreciate the feedback. Thank you so much for being open and honest in your feelings! It helps tremendously!
I think for an eBook you have to price lower, it is such a unique time with the mesh of technology and literature, I feel that the power of pricing and licensing of titles is in the hand of these independent authors, and less so in the massive publishing companies.
I think the key to the success of any book is solely exposure, via twitter, facebook, search engine optimization, etc. The write book can easily take off for any author if the can get support from the public community using these forums.
I will be more than happy to highlight any authors book on my site, bookslovecompany.com. If interested, please contact at firstname.lastname@example.org.
I agree with a lot of what has been said...there's no set price for an indie author. Personally, I priced the first book in my series at .99 and will probably increase the subsequent 2 books in the trilogy for 2.99-3.99. I know there's a lot of debate about pricing so low, but for me, it's right.