Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Price Pointers

There is a lot of debate right now about something called the "price point" for ebooks. The price point is sort of the sweet spot for pricing a book, it's the most people will pay for an ebook. The problem is there are lots of different opinions on what that price actually is. So let me ask you,
What are you willing to pay for an ebook?
There are lots of factors, at least for me, that determine what I'm willing to pay. For example, if it's an ebook by a popular author that I read often, I'm willing to pay up to about six dollars. Sound low? Well, if I can get a paperback for 7-8 dollars I'm not willing to spend more than that on an ebook. What about short stories and novellas? I never spend more than .99 on one. Why? Because I don't have to. There are SO MANY good ones at that price, why on earth would I spend more?

The problem is when you have a full length novel by a fairly unknown writer. What do you do then? I've been tracking my own sales for a while. I have ebooks, all full length, priced anywhere from 5.99 to .99. Here's how it rolled out in December.
The 2.99 ebook sold practically no copies at all. Now price may not be the only factor here, but bet your bottom dollar it's a big one.
The 5.99 ebook did better, but sales were still slow. Why did this book do better than the lower priced one? That's a very good question.
The .99 ebook outsold all the others by a landslide, but only in ONE place. on Amazon the sales were comparable to the 5.99 book.

Yet, with all the mass sales from the .99 ebook, I still MADE about the same as I did from the slow sales on the 5.99 book.

My hope with releasing one book at a substantially lower price was this, to draw in new readers to my other books. It's marketing. Maybe you've seen books that are offered free for a few weeks, then jump to 2.99 or so and do very well. In that aspect it's worth taking a small loss in royalties to build your brand. But, let me tell you a little story.

When I was living in Washington I decided to have a yard sale. I put out one box marked 'free' and filled it with stuff. The day went on and NO ONE took any of it. So my friend who was with me says, 'watch this'. She picked out almost everything out of the box and put price stickers on it between 1-2 dollars for things like half burned candles and old dishes. In no time we had sold almost all of it. Why? Why would people buy for a dollar what they wouldn't take for free? Because there is a mentality that if it's free, it probably isn't that great. I know, it sounds crazy. But it's true.

So if you are asking too little for your ebook, it can actually hurt sales. People assign it value based on three things IN THIS ORDER.
1. The cover (yes, a poorly done cover can TANK a book)
2. The price
3. The content (this is last because people actually have to have already purchased the book to decide if it's good or not)

If you've hit the sweet spot on those three things, that's when sales take off. So I'm doing an experiment with my .99 book. It has a great cover and is a wonderful book (so all the reviews say). I'm trying to hit that sweet spot on the price point. I've had it at .99 for a couple months and now I'm going to bump it to 2.99 and see what the sales do. If they drop a little, but I still make the same in royalties, then I'm getting close. If sales completely drop off I'll know it's over priced and I can adjust from there. If the 2.99 price point worked, then the next book will open off at somewhere around 3.99, which I think is still very inexpensive for an ebook. I'm not trying to be greedy, but I don't want to sell my hard work for less than it's worth either.

I'm curious what you think. How much are you willing to pay for literary satisfaction?


J.L. Campbell said...

Interesting article. If I bought an ebook for 0.99 and the writing was great, I wouldn't quibble about buying the same author's work at a higher price. Now if the book wasn't so wonderful, I probably wouldn't want to buy even it the other book was 0.99 too.

moms said...

i admit that i prefer not to spend more than $.99 on an ebook. What if i don't like it? hopefully, i can find it at the library instead of spending more than .99. and you know i can't stand the library....i just have to use it because of funds.