The Pricing Puzzle

Utopia book marketing

© Theodor38 | Dreamstime Stock Photos & Stock Free Images

© Theodor38 | Dreamstime Stock Photos & Stock Free Images

As the utopYA alumni know, we are all about education, collaboration, and inspiration here at utopYAcon HQ. The education part has been on my mind lately, mostly due to a rather disturbing Facebook post I stumbled upon. It wasn’t necessarily offensive or vulgar, but it was the attitude of the individual that caught me off guard. It all boiled down to how an author prices their ebook.

The post in question involved a first-time author asking about debut ebook pricing. Some suggested $.99 and others $2.99. What chapped my hide was a comment stating that a particular author would never charge $0.99 because they had put too much work into their book, too much money into production, and that $2.99 wasn’t a lot to ask. This shocked and appalled me because it goes against the grain of everything I’ve learned in the sales biz. Sure, authors pour their hearts, souls, blood, and tears into their work, but should they approach their sales with a sort of ‘you owe me because I worked too hard on this bit of awesome’ mentality? Or even go so far as to note a Starbucks costs more than a $2.99 ebook, and that wasn’t too much to ask? I think not, Miss GreaterThanThouUnnamedAuthorPerson. But I have to admit, she got me thinking.

How does a debut, or first-time author price their ebook?

After searching the interwebs, I discovered that ebook pricing requires a lot of research, and a little bit of mojo. Past panels of utopYAcon have included Amazon 101 where the in’s and out’s of ebooks are explored and shared. There are many ways to price your ebook and each tier has its own royalty system. An author has to take a lot into consideration regarding their pricing. Are you a DEBUT? Is the book part of a series? Is it the FIRST BOOK of a series? Does said author already have a past Amazon rep and a good readership? The list goes on and on.

To add to all the questions, an author needs to know that each site offers different royalties.

And it doesn’t stop there! If you’re a traditionally published author, your ebooks tend to cost more than the selfers out there.  Many authors will even price their FIRST BOOK in a series at $0.99 or [squee!] FREE to promote a new release in the series. OR! An author, as noted in the linkies above, will hook us readers up with a fab initial price for a limited time, because they know we’re all addicts when it comes to books. The strategies are virtually endless!

Back to Miss SourPussFacebooker. After reading up on the ways ebooks are priced, I have to admit, I have a lot more respect for those Amazon 100 folks. They are doing it RIGHT, yo! Approaching your ebook prices still shouldn’t be based on the mere fact that you worked hard on it and that a Venti Dooflotchy costs more. But an author, especially a DEBUT author, does need to take everything that made their book what it is into consideration, as well as what a reasonable price should be. There is no hard-and-true answer to the pricing question. It all boils down to what YOU, the author, feel it’s worth and how much YOU, the author, think your readers will be willing to pay for it. If you have a hard-core following out of the gates, then your readers will probably pay a few more bucks. But if you are a DEBUT with a humble following and still trying to gain some traction in the Wild World of Ebooks, then you may need to start off with the incentive pricing until you get your figurative feet wet.

So I ask you, utopYA-ans, what have YOU learned about ebook pricing at utopYAcon?

The Amazon 101 panel will certainly make a come back for the 2014 season so HQ would love to hear what you’ve learned. Also, we’d love to hear more about what you WANT to learn. 

It’s part of our goal. It’s part of our passion to be part of this amazing community and to help share the knowledge. There IS room for all of us, and a success for one, is a success for everyone.


This article by D.B. Graves: a young adult writer battling between real-life and 
the voices in her head. The voices tend to win.