Book Pricing 101: Pricing your Book for Success

Book Pricing 101: Pricing your Book for Success


Pricing your book can be a tricky subject…

…if you don’t do your research, you could wind up not selling any books, or you could sell a ton and not make any real money from the sales. Self-Publishing means all of the work is on you, and that includes pricing your books. Luckily, the research has already been done for you.

Pricing Fiction:

For the sake of argument, let’s say we’re talking about pricing a book on Amazon. As most of you probably know, Kindle gives authors a 35% share of royalties for books priced from $0.99 to $2.98. From $2.99 to $9.99, Kindle gives authors a 70% share. Anything above $9.99 goes back to a 35% royalty structure. I assume this is to keep eBook prices low while not cutting into paperback sales. Traditional publishers will tend to price their eBooks between $7.99 and $9.99, which is consistent with a mass market paperback cost. In fact, the publisher is probably making more money in Kindle form because they have less overhead.
Self-Published authors usually charge near the low end of the spectrum for a number of reasons. Readers are more likely to take a chance on a new author if the price is $3.99 or less. Self
Published authors also make more from each sale than if a publisher published their book. You know, fewer mouths to feed and so on. So you should just price your book at $0.99 and sell a million of them, right? Not exactly. For most full-length novels, $2.99 to $3.99 is the better way to go. At $2.99, you’ll sell more than at $3.99, but at $3.99 you’ll make slightly more money. At that point, it depends on what you’re going for, sales numbers or money. If you’re just starting out, gaining new readers might be more important than the money.

For the first book in a series, I usually like to price it at $0.99. You won’t make as much money, but it’s critical that you sell as many of the first book as possible. Some people even opt to make it free. If you want to make a Kindle book free, there’s a method to do so, which I’ll get to in a later blog post.

Pricing Short Fiction:

For short stories and novelettes I like to price them at $0.99. It seems like readers won’t pay much more than that for short works. Exceptions would include works from very prominent authors. Some people can get away with selling short stories for $1.99 or $2.99 and still get good sales. I envy them. It helps to think of short stories and the like as promotional materials, works that will get people into your other books, especially a series.

Your TimePricing Nonfiction:

With nonfiction works, you can definitely get away with charging a bit more even if the work is short. I’ve seen 50 to 150 page nonfiction eBooks selling for $2.99 to $3.99 and people are willing to pay that amount. Even Self-Published authors are charging $4.99 and up for full-length nonfiction books. I think with this one it will depend more on what kind of following you already have. Try a price of $2.99 or $3.99 to start and if you think you can increase it, do so, and keep track of your sales. If they decrease too much, lower the price again. Play with it.

What do I do?

Pricing Books
Finding the Right Pricing Technique Can Be A Lengthy Journey

No matter what you publish, find three to five authors writing similar books and see what they charge. This isn’t something you should only do one time. I would check back once or twice a year and keep track of trends in the industry. For a while, selling books at $0.99 was THE thing to do. It worked for a lot of people I know. Now, however, selling for just a few dollars more s
ends a signal that your work isn’t “cheap.” It sends a signal that you are more professional. With that in mind, you should always strive to be worth the money your readers pay.

For more info, check out two more great sources for book pricing here and here.

In the comments below, tell me what you write and what you charge. What pricing models have you had success with?



Side Characters: Every Batman Needs A Robin

Side Characters: Every Batman Needs A Robin

Side characters can get a bad rap sometimes.

Often weaker, dumber, or simply less cool than the main characters, side characters are often thrown by the wayside. If this sounds like your writing style, you might be doing it wrong.

The beauty of side characters in novels and stories is that they don’t have to have extensive backstories. You can tell the reader a lot with just a few sentences and they will thank you for livening the world you’ve created with nuances an

d subtlety. Think of the original Star Wars cantina scene. Most of the characters were not originally named, but do you know that most of them actually do have names? When you’re writing, it can help to think of your story as part of a much larger expanded universe. Many readers will skip over the minor side characters without much notice, but for those who are truly into the story, their experience will be richer than ever.

The J.K. Rowling method: Next time you read Harry Potter (I’m assuming everyone has read the series. If you haven’t, what are you doing?) be sure to look at the side characters. Think of someone like Parvati Patil. In the entire series she only gets a few lines and there is very little description surrounding her character. She goes to the Yule Ball with Harry in Book Four, but during my several read-throughs, I always found her to be more of a set-piece. For a side character, I would wager that’s fine. If she was a main character and treated that way, that would be a different story entirely. However, there’s a lot more to her character if you look more deeply and include nuances from the films. Just check out her Harry Potter wiki if you don’t believe me. The moral of this little anecdote is to treat every character in your book as though a wiki page might be made out of them someday. Your super-fans will thank you.

Side Characters
This character is a tired monkey. He sleeps. That’s his thing.

Ok, I get it. But how? Side characters are often known for one trait above all others. Readers might be able to remember that the taxi driver had brown hair, but if he was a chain smoker or had a mild Dr. Pepper addiction, it’s more likely they’ll remember him. Your job as a writer is to ensure that every character has some memorable feature. That is, of course, unless the reader is not supposed to remember them. That’s where the fun really begins.

Shadow Characters: Sometimes it’s refreshing for a writer to add in a character that is entirely forgettable. Why? Maybe the character is a spy and is supposed to be adept at concealing themselves. Maybe they are so incredibly average that that in itself makes them stand out (this can have comedic elements to it as well). Or, my favorite, a minor throwaway side character could become a villain. What’s more unsuspecting than a character most readers will only catch on a second reading? You can put all the signs there, but because the character is so unassuming the reader has a hard time they could be a villain, killer, baddie, etc.

There are countless ways to go about adding vibrant side characters to your stories. No one way is really right, but there are a lot of wrong ways to go about it. If all of your side characters are shadow characters, that’s lazy. At least give a few of them drinking or gambling problems, OCD, or a quirky preference. If nothing else, it will keep things fresh for you as a writer. What are you waiting for? Go add some spice to your writing!

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