How Much Should I Sell My Ebook For?
For an author, writing an entire ebook is often an easier task than answering one question: How much should I sell my ebook for?
Because, while the question may sound simple, it’s actually anything but. In self-publishing, authors have to consider not only the value of their work but also a variety of other factors, including their personal goals, their marketing plan, their readership, and their competition.
So, it’s no surprise that the question of “How much should I sell my ebook for?” is such a daunting one.
The truth is there are many questions to ask and pricing models to consider to determine the perfect price for your ebook. So we’ve broken the ebook-pricing process down to make it a little easier. Let’s dive in.
5 Questions to Answer Before Pricing Your Ebook
The ideal price for your individual ebook depends on several factors, and considering these five questions first will put you on the right track.
1. What is your goal?
Yes, your goal is to sell your ebook, but dig a bit deeper.
Is this ebook a free gift for signing up for your newsletter? Is it the first book in a series designed to capture the reader’s attention, so they’ll purchase the rest? Is it the literary masterpiece that you’ve poured your life’s work into, so you expect to get paid for the work you put in? Are you looking to grow your fan base or simply make the highest possible ebook sales?
“My pricing strategy involves a couple of factors, but in general, I look at it through the lens of ‘What is my goal?'” said USA Today bestselling author Elle Cross. “Do I want to increase revenue or do I want to increase my readership?”
With your goal in mind, you can price your ebook accordingly. If, for example, your goal is to grow your readership or get readers hooked on your series, you’ll want to price your book low, such as 99 cents, to entice people to buy.
2. What are similar books selling for?
Take a look at how comparable ebooks are priced and get as specific as possible.
First, consider genre. Extensively researched works of nonfiction often cost more than a children’s book, for example. And certain genres, such as romance, are also more likely to be self-published, meaning there’s a lot of competition and a well-established price range.
“For self-published romance books, there is a range from $2.99 to $6.99,” said romance author Sarah Bale. “I usually settle in the middle at $3.99 to $4.99, depending on the book’s length. For novellas, I do 2.99 and .99 for reader magnets (works you give away for free in exchange for readers subscribing to your mailing list, for example).”
But don’t look at genre alone — consider other books’ length and format, as well as who the author is. For example, a full-length novel is typically priced higher than a novella, a highly illustrated book may cost more than one that’s just text, and an author with several books under their belt may have a higher price point than a debut author.
Consider how the book was published, as well. A self-published novel isn’t going to fetch the same price as a novel that’s been edited, produced, and marketed by Penguin Random House, for example.
“I look at what other books in the market are priced at to get a starting point,” said author Debbie Burns. ” Then I recommend paying attention to numbers. How high can you go before the increased cost doesn’t compensate for the decrease in buyers?”
Finally, ask yourself how much you’d be willing to pay for such a book and answer honestly.
“I decide on my e-book prices based on what I feel they are worth,” said Payhip user Melissa Raimondi, who sells cookbooks. “I look at how much I would pay for an ebook of similar content and price mine accordingly.”
3. Where will you sell your ebook?
Consider the marketplace where you plan to sell your ebook. Will it be available on your own website only? Will you sell on Payhip, Amazon, Smashwords, or another marketplace? Or will it be for sale on a variety of platforms?
Take a look at how other authors have priced their books on the specific platform you’ll be using.
Also, research any subscription plans or programs that you may opt in to, such as Amazon’s Kindle Unlimited, as this will affect your ebook pricing.
“I write in specific romance subgenres that do well being enrolled in KDP Select/Kindle Unlimited,” Cross said. “Comparable titles in my sub-genre are usually $3.99-4.99. A few titles are $2.99, but those are usually the first book in a series. $2.99 is the lowest price point I can set my book while remaining in the 70% royalty range.”
4. How large is your audience?
Think about your target reader, as well as your own personal readership.
If your ebook is a fictional thriller competing against thousands of other self-published thrillers for a massive audience, you’ll want to price your book fairly low. However, if your book is written for a niche audience — say, a detailed how-to guide on launching a specific type of business — there may be fewer readers; however, they’re likely to pay a higher price to get exactly what they want.
Consider your personal readership as well. Do you have an email list of readers eagerly awaiting your next book that you can market to? If so, your ebook will likely fetch a higher price. But if you’re a debut author whose only guaranteed reader is your mom or spouse, opt for a lower price, so you can attract new readers.
Finally, do you have an author platform? Your platform is essentially your ability to sell your book simply based on who you are or who you can reach.
Are you well known in your field? Do you have thousands of followers on social media? If you have a platform, you have a built-in audience to sell to, so you can price your book higher because your fans are willing to pay to read your ebook.
5. Do you need flexibility in pricing?
If you plan to discount your book or offer it as part of any special deals, it’s important not to price it too low. For example, if you set the price at 99 cents, later offering it for 50% off doesn’t make the price much more appealing.
Part of the appeal of ebook pricing is that it’s subject to change. It’s easy to experiment to see which price works best for you. So consider setting a higher list price that’ll allow you to discount the book.
“I tend to price at a point that allows me to discount for sales, and I often group my ebooks into ‘packs’ of several related ebooks,” said Payhip user Ali Luke. “Some authors call these ‘bundles’ or ‘box sets’. That way, I can offer a hefty discount when people buy say four ebooks at once.”
Ebook Pricing Methods to Consider
Clearly, there’s a lot to consider when finding the answer to the question, “How much should I sell my ebook for?” But here are three popular choices among ebook authors.
There are a few situations where the best price to charge for your ebook is $0.
- You’re using the book as a reader magnet, or incentive, in your book funnel. (A book funnel is a marketing strategy for authors that generates leads, or potential customers, for your business, even if you’re just in the business of writing books.)
- You’re building a readership.
- It’s the first book in a series that you’ll use to hook readers.
- You’re giving it away in return for reviews.
Selling your ebook for under a dollar is an affordable price that’ll still bring in some revenue. This method of ebook pricing is especially effective in the following situations.
- You’re launching a new series, re-releasing a book with a new cover, or adding a new book to your series and want to entice readers to buy.
- You’re making it available for 99 cents for a brief time to get the book onto a bestseller list.
Pay What You Want
Marketplaces like Payhip also allow you to use pay-what-you-want pricing, a sales technique that lets the buyer decide what they want to pay for your ebook.
The seller can set a minimum or average price, or they can allow prospective customers to truly pay whatever they want for the book — including getting it for free.
Giving away your hard work potentially for free is understandably intimidating, but it can be profitable. In fact, a Payhip survey found that more than 43% of buyers pay above the minimum price set by the seller.
So what are readers forking over for ebooks that use pay-what-you-want pricing? On Payhip, the average price of ebooks sold in this manner was $3.26 in 2019 and $4.43 in 2020.
Experiment with Ebook Pricing
As you can see, there’s no one correct answer to the question, “How much should I sell my ebook for?”
But what’s great about selling ebooks is that you can easily alter the price. That’s why it’s so important to experiment with your ebook pricing and try different price points to determine what works best for you.
However, as you test various prices, keep your goals in mind. If you’re focused on maximizing profits, for example, you’ll want to see how high you can price your book without experiencing a dip in sales. However, if you’re building a readership, the bottom line isn’t as important as the subscriber list you’re building.