January 7, 2016

Self Publishing? What’s Your Pricing Plan? — Part Two

Stick figure at a chalkboard with text: What's Your Pricing Plan?

It’s time once again for my monthly guest post over at Janice Hardy’s Fiction University. We’ve been walking through the process of making choices for what path we want for our indie publishing career.

My series about Indie Publishing Paths at Fiction University has been highlighting some of the choices we have to make and giving us a few guidelines for figuring out how to make the best decisions for us.

We started off talking about knowing our goals. There’s no end to the conflicting advice out there about self-publishing, and to add confusion, the “rules” from retailers and others change frequently. So we need to have an understanding of why we’re choosing certain paths so that we can adapt as the industry changes.

Once we know our priorities, we might make different choices about distribution, release schedules, or pricing. I’ve been focusing on each of those areas in the next segment of the series, calling them the where, when, and how much of our decision process.

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Last month, we identified three options for the pricing strategy of our books—the how much. We can…:

  • price high,
  • price in the middle, or
  • price low.

The most common (and yet controversial) advice about pricing is that we should price low—possibly even free. But it’s important to remember there are no right or wrong answers when it comes to the pricing strategy that will work best for us.

Yes, there are many good reasons we might want to price our books below the typical $2.99-$4.99 “sweet spot” (for novels). However, there are also many reasons why we might not.

Before blindly following any advice, we’d want to understand more about how or why the advice is supposed to work so we can see if it applies to our situation. Same thing when it comes to pricing advice.

Any strategy applied to an incompatible situation would likely cause problems. So we’d want to dig deeper into our pricing plans to ensure that a low-price strategy wouldn’t end up being short-sighted.

This month’s post helps us through that digging process. Have we thought about what we want to accomplish with our pricing strategy? Will our pricing strategy actually work to accomplish that? *smile*

In the post, I cover the three main strategies for why we might want to price low and delve into when/why/how each one might work—or not work—for us.

I hope you’ll join me at Fiction University for this month’s post!

Have you seen advice for authors to price their books low? Do you think that’s always the best strategy? Have you thought about what would make the most sense for your situation? And most importantly, have you thought about how pricing low would accomplish your goals?

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Comments — What do you think?

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Yes, I’ve seen advice for authors to price their books low, and no, it isn’t always the best strategy. Low attracts “taker” types, plus it isn’t suitable to some situations, genres, or target market..

Personally, I’m actually planning on raising my e-book prices soon, by taking my free novel off free—in part because I’m offering some of it free on Wattpad, so cash-strapped folks can get it there—and by lifting the price on at least some of my nonfiction, for which a “low” price suggests negative things about the quality thereof.

Eve Anderson
Eve Anderson

I know that Indie Authors are the future. And as well as other authors had the need to gain $$ from their work. The opportunity to put prices on your books or gave some free is a special. I can do this or that, is my prerrogative. So it isn’t me who stop no one to honestly find their way of do what they like

Although and example, I live from a Social Security, so I made a list of what I had to pay & how much I can use to buy books. So, I check: it’s standalone or series (the series is good enough to be aware that may buy the rest for the money they ask), It’s something I very important for me.

So a book that I paid .99, then 2.99 (i think), 3.99 (huuu not).

Stephen Tremp

Shah, I price low to get reviews and ratings, then raise to $1.99 – $2.99 as the momentum increases. I’ll be raising my prices incrementally until Memorial day weekend then cap it at $2.99.

Serena Yung
Serena Yung

(Posting here, because Janice Hardy’s blog posting system seems to not accept this comment as this is over 4000 something characters long…) So far, I’ve only made the plan to give a freebie for the first book of my series, as a “loss leader” strategy. But hey, I actually didn’t think of the point that with a very low price rather than a freebie, one could perhaps make a little bit of money at the same time as getting more exposure for this book and our other linked books. Yet, in the Smashwords 2015 survey (important to me since Smashwords will be one of my main venues): For both the 2014 and 2015 surveys, it seems that prices below $2 don’t get the most downloads, nor do they make the most money. In 2015, the price point with the most downloads was $3-3.99, then $2-2.99, $0.99, and $4-4.99, in order from highest to lowest. (Other prices were lower or much lower in the number of downloads than these four.) For 2014, the price points with the most downloads were $2-2.99 and $3-3.99 (they look equally high from the bar chart.) This perhaps counter-intuitive result, might be because of the issue we talked about before, that many readers (including myself) avoid very cheap books because they fear very cheap quality as well. As for actual income earned, in 2015, the price point yielding the highest earnings was $3-3.99, followed by $9-9.99, $4-4.99, $10+, and $2-2.99. (This graph mixed fiction and…  — Read More »

Kitt Crescendo

I’ve heard all sorts of theories on the matter. At the end of the day, though, I don’t think pricing low is a very good idea. People tend to draw conclusions about quality, expect to always get the low price on any future releases you might get (regardless of how much popularity or fan base you might develop–because you’ve set that expectation FOR them), and you can often do your peers a disservice because you’re right…there is a sweet spot, and the more people that low ball pricing, the lower that sweet spot becomes.

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