"I can help you!"

I NO LONGER WORK AS A BOOK MARKETING COACH; I'M THE PUBLISHER AT IMAJIN BOOKS.

I've worked for over 25 years in advertising, promotions and sales, and spent nearly 2 years as a motivational speaker for a major international company. Currently a bestselling novelist and 'shameless' promoter, I've shared my experiences and techniques as a Book Marketing Coach for nearly a decade.

Whether you're published or unpublished, I can help. My last publisher called me a "marketing guru" and "whiz", although I prefer to think of what I do as teaching, or coaching.

"Dare to Dream...and Dream BIG!"

Sunday, February 20, 2011

How important is ebook pricing?

In today's economy, the answer to the above question is easy to answer: ebook pricing is vital to the sales and success of your book. Price them too high and people may skip your book and go for something less expensive, especially if you are not a "big name author". Price your books too low (with the exception of a special sale) and readers may think you're a hobbyist and not very good.

There has been a lot of discussion of what the perfect price point is for an ebook. The answer? You may have to play with the prices if you've published your own ebooks to determine where the best price lies.

A strong proponent of $0.99 and $1.99 ebooks, author JA Konrath, held those views up until last year, when Amazon raised the royalty level to 70% for ebooks priced between $2.99 and $9.99. Konrath took the plunge and raised his prices and has reported that this hasn't hurt his sales in the least. In fact, he reports he made over $100K last year on his ebooks, across multiple retailers. Not bad income for an author who is self-publishing his own books now, after being published by the big guys for years.

This past week, I've been asked by three authors to advise them as to why their ebooks aren't selling. The first thing I did was head over to their Amazon page, where I discovered ebook prices all over $9. And these are authors with only a couple of books. One only had a single title. You can bet they probably aren't widely known--compared to names like Konrath, Hocking, etc.

Along with high ebook prices, I noted that one author had overly busy book covers. I believe that will hamper his sales. Another author had a poorly worded description. The major problem is that all three authors are published by midstream traditional publishers and this means they don't have much--if any-- say in the pricing, covers or description.

My advice to all three: try to get your ebook rights back and publish these ebooks on your own. Or at least find an ebook publisher (like Imajin Books) that will work with you, price your ebook lower, update your covers and description if needed and give you a higher percentage of royalties. Because without getting that price lowered, you won't have much of a chance selling more ebooks.

In Konrath's latest blog post, he talks about an author who reached the NYT bestsellers list multiple times, who was just offered a $200K two-book deal. After Konrath crunched the numbers and pointed out that her ebooks would be priced higher, it appears this author would be better off publishing these on her own--especially since she obviously already has a platform and a built-in fan base from her existing titles--and setting lower prices.

Kindle Nation Daily conducted a recent survey. Here are some of the results.
"Kindle owners are buying ebooks with ever-increasing frequency, with 13% buying 60 or more paid ebooks a year, 22% buying 30 to 60, and 33% buying 15 to 30."
"A general Kindle reader "buys 4.9 print books and 46.6 ebooks a year. Slightly over half of her ebook acquisitions are free or priced at less 99 cents."
From the survey, here are the top 4 defining factors in purchasing an ebook:
1. ebook is by a favorite author
2. ebook is significantly cheaper than hardcover or paperback edition
3. ebook is priced at $3.99 or LESS
4. ebook comes highly recommended by someone you trust

For great deals on Kindle ebooks, check out Kindle Nation Daily and subscribe to their blog on your Kindle, so you'll receive alerts on exciting new releases, sales and more.

In the end, the pricing issue really boils down to one thing. Publishers and authors should give readers what they want, and they want less expensive ebooks.

6 comments:

RG said...

Authors published by traditional publishers--perhaps even those you mentioned--may not be contractually able to publish ebook versions. Many if not most publishing contracts reserve that for the publisher and/or contain non-competing publication clauses. Authors should read their contracts carefully before they bring out electronic versions of their books.

Cheryl Tardif said...

Very true, RG. If an author has an existing contract with a publisher, they will need to check their contract first.

I would also go so far as to caution authors against accepting a contract for ebook editions that would be priced over $7. Unless you're a big name author, selling at that price point is very tough.

cavalrytales said...

As a single-book author (to date) I originally priced my ebook at half the pb price and subsequently reduced it to 2.99. This seemed to me to be fair, but hasn't increased sales. But is that simply price, or content?
Anyhow, I'm thinking of the 0.99 price point - but do I try it now or wait until the next story's ready? Or the third?
I've never really been one for the 'doing nothing' option, but that might be the way for the time being.

Cheryl Tardif said...

Thanks so much for dropping by. I took the liberty of checking out your book and I think there may be a few reasons why you aren't seeing the sales you want.

There are 3 things most readers look at when deciding on buying a book:
1. Cover design
2. Back cover text or description (ie. content)
3. Price

Looking at your cover, I'd say it's not a bad design, but personally, I'd eliminate the long logline at the top.

Your back cover text suggests this book will appeal to a more targeted audience, so you'll want to market to that audience.

3. I think $2.99 isn't a bad price but people don't know you. With only one title out your greatest challenge is to get known. By offering this book at $0.99 for a month or so will increase your chances at getting known. Don't do it for less than a month.

The more people who read and enjoy this book, the more they will look for your next book. So do be sure that the content lives up to anything that's on a bookstore shelf. Make sure this book is edited--by others.

The one thing with publishing your own books is that you have control over your prices. Sometimes it takes a while to find the "sweet spot" in pricing. Don't be afraid to experiment.

As for waiting, why wait? That only means you're losing potential sales. Drop the price now and see what happens. Try a Kindle Nation Daily promo. Guest blog at other people's sites. See what happens.

All the best,
Cheryl

Cheryl Tardif said...

oops, one other word of advice: on your Sample page for your book, delete the line about 'computer screens are okay but...'

You just told them NOT to buy your ebook. :-)

cavalrytales said...

Good point! That'll teach me to think of the whole site when I add any new stuff.

And thank you very much for the pricing advice, which I'll take.

Best wishes,
Jonathan