Tuesday, March 5, 2013

ASK PZM: March 2013 - Pricing



First Wednesday of every month, a few of us (over 300) participate in Alex J. Cavanaugh's Insecure Writer's Support Group blog hop. We share and encourage. We express our insecurities without fear of ridicule. Trust me, if you're having a difficult time, IWSG is the hop for you. To sign up or find out more about IWSG, click here and follow the simple instructions. 

I know today is Tuesday... But because today is the 5th, it's time for Ask PZM, where Phyllis Zimbler Miller answers marketing questions. I think it fits well with IWSG. Hope you agree.  Today's subject is pricing.
 

Q:  Can you recommend pricing for a Kindle ebook?

Although I cannot recommend specific prices, I can share some information on pricing.

At this writing, Amazon for the U.S. site (other Amazon country sites vary) gives 70% royalties for ebooks priced $2.99-$9.99.  Lower or higher prices get 35% royalties.


(Why does Amazon do this?  Obviously the algorithms at Amazon have decided the 70% royalties price range is the sweet spot of ebook pricing for Amazon.)

If you control your own KDP (Kindle Direct Publishing) account – and you should, you can change the price whenever you want.


In addition, if you put your ebook on KDP Select (ebook exclusivity on Kindle for 90-day periods), you can have up to five free days in any configuration during each 90-day period.

Then there are the sites where you can list your book depending on the price.  Some sites focus on “bargain books,” whatever the individual site’s definition is of this.  Some sites focus on free ebooks.  Some sites have a range of ebook prices.

Here are some things to ponder:
  

 On Amazon do you have a physical book of the ebook?  You want to look at the relationship of these two prices.

2.     If your ebook is on KDP Select (the physical book does NOT have to be exclusive), the ebook can be borrowed for free by Amazon Prime members and you still get paid by Amazon a piece of the “borrowing” pie.  At this writing an Amazon Prime member gets to borrow one book free per month.  Might an ebook priced at $9.99 have more attraction to a Prime member than an ebook priced at $2.99?  (The Prime member gets $7 more “free.”)

3.     Does a higher price right before a book is free via KDP Select make the book’s free days more attractive?

4.     Does it make sense to make the book less expensive right after a successful KDP Select free-day promotion (success = tons of free downloads) to keep up the momentum started by the free days?

5.     When an ebook is first launched, does it make sense to make the price less expensive and then increase the price as the book garners good reviews?


Now before you feel completely overwhelmed, remember that there is no right answer to any of the above questions.  There may be better answers for certain books, but no one can know the best answers for all books.

Giving away books for free:
I know there are authors who are adamantly against giving away their books for free.  Yet unless the authors are world famous, I disagree with this stance. 
  
Giving away books for free to help attract interest in your books is a time-honored traditional publisher marketing technique.  (Years and years ago I worked for a weekly newspaper in Philadelphia and I got lots of hardcover books for free in the hopes of a book review.)     

Having first tried a free book promotion myself for my thriller LT. COMMANDER MOLLIE SANDERS, I have come to the realization that it is best, in my opinion, to do this via KDP Select.
By giving away your books for free via KDP Select, you are making a statement that your book has value and only via this special limited-time offer are you sharing your book for free.

Which still begs the question:  How much to price your Kindle ebook?

Perhaps one way is to look at the other books in your category.  What is the “competition” charging?  Does it make sense for longer books to be priced higher than shorter books?

Do fiction and nonfiction books have different intrinsic values?  Are people in general more willing to pay for an unknown author’s ebook on weight loss than for an unknown author’s spy thriller?  After all, one ebook could help solve a problem while the other is for entertainment.

If you have several books on Kindle, you might want to consider how the different prices relate to each other.  In other words, when someone looks at all your books on your Amazon Author Central profile, do the prices as a group make sense?  As I have both fiction and nonfiction books on Kindle, I do take into account these comparisons – see www.amazon.com/author/phylliszimblermiller




The good news?  If you control your own KDP account, you do not have to write your book’s price in stone.  You can experiment with different pricing including seasonal pricing if your book “fits” a specific season.

P.S.  In honor of Women’s History Month in March, my 2008 Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award semifinalist MRS. LIEUTENANT, which takes place in the spring of 1970 during the Vietnam War, will be free on Kindle on March 6 and 7 at http://amzn.to/13mdCJA








Phyllis Zimbler Miller is the co-founder of the online marketing company www.MillerMosaicLLC.com and the author of fiction and nonfiction books, including TOP TIPS FOR HOW TO MARKET YOUR BOOK ON AMAZON AND FACEBOOK.  She blogs on author topics at www.PhyllisZimblerMiller.com and visit her Facebook Page at www.facebook.com/phylliszimblermillerauthor











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73 comments :

  1. Such a great (and detailed) examination of ebook pricing, Joylene. Definitely an inexact science. Any thoughts on the announced changes to Amazon's free eBook algorithms? Everyone seems to be worked up over that at the moment. :)

    Personally, I agree with you: giving away a book for free is not a sin or crime against authors. It has been done for ages as a way of promotion. Clearly, it needs to be done with some thought and purpose, but it's still just a marketing tool. And savvy workers use all of their tools ... at least so said my father, the mechanic. :)

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    1. I've done my share of giving away books, too. I never felt like I was selling myself short. Money doesn't drive me, I just want readers to know my books are out there. Thanks, EJ!

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  2. This post was helpful. Thanks, Joylene and Phyllis.

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    1. I'm glad you stopped by, Linda. I wanted to say how much I love your blog. In fact, every time I do laundry I think of you. But I can't figure out how to leave a comment. Have you terminated that feature on your blog?

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  3. Thanks for that, an interesting and useful post.

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    1. Thanks for stopping by, Carole. Hope you're doing well.

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  4. Many things to ponder. My publisher sets the price of my books, so not something I control.

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    1. I haven't had to worry about my 2nd book either, but I self-published my first hard copy and the pricing has been terrible because of buyers putting it back on Amazon. Imagine over one hundred dollars! Ridiculous.

      Hi Alex! Thanks for visiting.

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  5. The problem with KDP Select is you can't have the book for sale anywhere else while you're enrolled in that program, which is 3 months at a minimum. Which is fine if you just want to sell for Kindle, but for people with Nooks or Kobos or whatever else it's not much good.

    I've found giveaways to be hit or miss. I've given away hundreds of copies of some books and then sold absolutely no copies of that book afterwards, even if it's just 99 cents! And most of the people who got free books didn't bother to take time to write reviews or anything. Heck, they probably never bothered to read the book. Basically there are a lot of moochers out there you just troll around for free books and at some point they might get around to reading it and reviewing it, but don't hold your breath because there are millions of other free books out there too!

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    1. Thanks for your comments, PT. I think there are many downsides to this marketing we're stuck in. It's certainly a learning curve. Thanks to people like Phyllis, and yourself, the rest of us can make some sense of it.

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  6. I think, if you're self-publishing, it should be whatever value you put on your head per se. And I don't agree with EJ (first comment) that books have always been given away for promotional purposes. Where exactly and to whom? I've never had someone say to me 'here, have a free book'.

    Anyway, good post Joylene!

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    1. Wendy, if we lived closer, I'd collect free books for you.

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  7. Good post, thanks Phyllis and Joylene! I had wondered about pricing, so I appreciate the info!

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  8. Interesting post. Lots of things to consider. Thanks!

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  9. Lots of interesting tips here. It really is overwhelming, so it's helpful that you've mentioned many options. Thanks Phyllis and Joylene! Also thanks for co-hosting the IWSG Joylene!

    Julie

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    1. Julie, check out Joe Konrath's blog. He's got lots of stuff on the business that's great to know. Thanks for visiting.

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  10. What great advice! Thanks Joylene.(When I saw the title of your blog I thought for sure it would be on pricing for real estate. lol.)
    ~Just Jill

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    1. I wish, Jill. Because I want to sell my house but can't seem to entice anyone to come out of the city this far to view it. Dang. Oh well, that's a subject for another day. You have a good one.

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  11. Pricing has so many variables. This post helps narrow quite a few of them down. Thanks!

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  12. I really need to learn more about KDP and how to publish via that platform. I have a lot to learn about it all...but I need to do just that. Thanks for the informative post, Joylene.

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    1. Thanks for taking time to visit, Laurel. Your support means a lot.

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  13. Great info here. I tweeted it. :-)

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  14. What an interesting post. I hope to someday have to deal with such questions.

    From a readers point of view. I like being able to sample the author to see if I like their style and a free e-book is a way to do this. One author gave away a free short story that took place prior to her trilogy. I bought the trilogy.

    Jai Visiting from IWSG

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    1. I agree with you, Jai. That's how I met so many wonderful authors, by offering a free ebook on one of my social networking sites. Some of those authors are great friends now. And there's nothing better than receiving an email from a reader who writes to say they loved my book.

      Happy IWSG! Thanks for visiting.

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  15. Great information Phyllis! Thank you so much.
    And you, Ms Butler are still my favorite Mystery/Suspense author!!!!!!!!
    Hugs to you my friend...
    Love ya
    Katt

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    1. Hugs back at you, dear Katt! Hope you're having a wonderful IWSG day.

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  16. Thanks for your comment, much appreciated,
    Thought your post most informative.

    Yvonne.

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    1. I'm glad you liked it, Yvonne. Have super day!

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  17. So many questions. So few answers. I sort of go by gut feel. Totally unscientific and without logic. But I try to stay in the norms. I'm bookmarking this post :)

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  18. I made up my prices - as I made up the stories that seemed almost logical! It is hard to know what' best and I did feel insecure about it so the issue does indeed fit in well with IWSG.

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  19. Thanks for this info. I had wondered how they went about determining e-book pricing. This clears up some of the issues.
    Congrats on the IWSG co-hosting gig Joylene!

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  20. Thanks for sharing (... and the reminder re: royalty ranges ... and the encouragement on my blog!!)

    I've definitely waited for e-books to get back up into the above 2.99 mark before buying them for that very reason!

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  21. Great post. So many things to think about!

    Thanks for hosting IWSG, Joylene. :)

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    1. Thanks for your support, Melissa. Happy IWSG.

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  22. Thanks for the info and for co-hosting the IWSG, Joylene.

    Be well.
    xoRobyn

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  23. This is such a good post! My publisher set the price of my book but I have heard so much about pricing its nice to understand :-)
    Thank you for co-hosting IWSG.

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  24. Hi Joylene and hello Phyllis,

    A highly informative posting and definitely lots to ponder for authors. I can understand the merits in giving books out for free. A tester to hopefully get feedback from them, say via a blog posting to bring further awareness. That may well be a barometer in to how much you should set the actual cost of the book.

    Of course, I get rather confused by all of this. Delighted to see your good self, along with Misha, doing the co-hosting.

    Be well and smile.

    Gary

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    1. Thanks, Gary. Best to you, Tristan, and Penny.

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  25. You packed a lot of good information in this post. Thank you both.

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  26. Love the way you presented this post. Reasonable questions to ask yourself when pricing your ebook. Thanks for sharing.

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  27. WOw, I'm putting this under 'favorites'--thanks so much for this wonderful info!

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  28. This was so helpful! I've bookmarked this post and I'm tweeting it. Thanks so much for the great information.

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  29. Thanks for the information! It's definitely hard to figure all of this out. So much to decide.

    Shannon at The Warrior Muse

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  30. Thanks for all the ideas and discussion. It's clarified a few things and made me think on this issues a little more.

    I went for $2.99 on Amazon for my first book and kept it there. It's a very long fiction book at 124k words for which I'd like to charge more, but I'm a new author and need to get on to eReaders, and to garner reviews, and so respect among the reading community. I have around 12 4-5* reviews for it now, so I may well increase the price slightly in another few months. I like that I can swap and change as and when I feel it is worth it.

    It's presently free on Smashwords till 9th March, as per their promotion, and it's flying off the shelves, so I do hope I get a few fans this way.

    Shah. X http://bit.ly/10637Ft

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    1. Sounds like you're on the right path, Shah. I don't have control over pricing, but I do, with permission from my publisher, put my ebook on for free once or twice a year. It makes me feel better doing that. Thanks for stopping by.

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  31. I never thought that pricing requires so much thought. Still, I do understand why it does.

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    1. That's great to hear, Misha. Thanks for stopping by.

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  32. Thanks for co-hosting! I always wondered why people charged so much less for an e-book. If I ever were to sell mine electronically, I want a price that says "I believe this is worth this price!" But that's just me. I've read e-books priced at $1.99 that were worth about that, so it goes both ways. lol

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    1. Good point. I don't have control over my ebook price, but the publisher set it at $5.99. Once a year we put it up for free. I'd like to try 2x a year. actually.

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  33. This is good info for possible self-publishing in my future. Right now I'm glad to have a publisher to take care of all that.

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    1. yeah, me too. But it's good stuff to know. Thanks JM.

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  34. I like how you break this all down in bite-sized bits. It seems like most folks are finding the $2.99 range a sweet spot on Amazon. Free books are always good for word of mouth sales later :)

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    1. Thanks so much for visiting and leaving a comment, Shell.

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  35. So much to think about! My calculator would break just thinking about all the options.

    .......dhole

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  36. This web is very good article is very interesting hopefully more advanced future
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  37. I think this was a perfect IWSG post. Anything that educates us, lowers our insecurities and that's a good thing. And I'm glad Ms. Miller addressed the free book debate. I'm getting ready to do one and was feeling...ready for it...insecure...after some sort of catty remarks by a writer about it...I feel totally confident and less like a loser to be doing it!

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