Friday, February 26, 2010

How Much Would you Pay for a Self-Published Ebook?

There's been a lot chatter lately about how much an ebook should cost, as evinced by a recent spat between MacMillan and Amazon, which got so heated Amazon pulled all of Macmillan's titles off its site for a day. Yikes!

People in the industry are taking the pricing of ebooks seriously, and I think self-published authors should, too.

The funny thing is, it all seems like much ado about nothing to those, like me, who have never read an ebook.

I remember last year when I first released a digital version of Ghost Notes on Amazon for its Kindle device. I didn't, and still haven't, seen the final product. I had to shanghai my sister, who owns a Kindle, into buying a copy.

"Does it look right?" I asked.

"Fine," she said.

"Does it look like other digital books on the Kindle? Does it look like it's supposed to look?"


That was all I needed to know.

But as a self-publisher, I don't want to ignore this segment of the book-buying public. I have to put the same kind of effort into producing a quality ebook that I might into producing a quality book-book. I have to format it correctly, and I have to make sure it looks as good as--or better than--the other ebooks people are likely to read, and in each of the many formats they're likely to read them in.

Luckily, the book writing part is done.

But how much should you charge for a quality self-published ebook? And should you charge less because it's self-published?

Most of the wrangling between Amazon and MacMillan seems to be about prices that range from $9.99 to $14.99. That would be a nice take for a self-published novelist, but my approach to self-publishing is more modest. As I've said before, I think of myself as playing in the minor leagues of publishing, and I wouldn't expect people to pay for a game at Yankee Stadium when they're going to see the Toledo Mudhens.

They'll see some pretty good Mudhens baseball, but still.

Therefore, I've chosen the price point of $4.99 for the new edition of Ghost Notes the Ebook at Smashwords. It's available in any format you could want--even PDF if, like me, you don't own an ebook device--and you can download a sample of the novel for free! $4.99 seems like a reasonable price, and it might entice a few of those who balk at a $14.99 sticker price to buy my book instead.

What do you think? Would you pay top dollar for an ebook that's self-published? Would you pay anything?

Yours in laying down the law,


Try Ghost Notes, the award-winning novel, in print form for just $5.

Try Ghost Notes the Audio Book as an unabridged digital download.

Or try Ghost Notes the Ebook.


Mark said...

I guess it depends on your strategy. Are you going for margin or volume? For volume, to reach as many people as possible, go low, $1.99 - $3.99 but if you want profits, pick one of the higher prices. I think as long as you're under $10 you're below a psychological threshold. Not sure where the next one would be: $4.99?

Art Edwards said...

I agree, Mark. Depends.

$4.99 seems a nice enticement for readers, whether they know you're self-pubbed or not.

Celia Hayes said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Celia Hayes said...

The thing about pricing e-books by for indy-authors is that we want to tempt readers/buyers into taking a chance on an author they haven't heard of. (I think of the e-book price as a loss-leader, just to build my fan-base!) If you run across a book which sounds intriguing, the thinking is you will be much more likely to take a chance on it if you are not out very much for the purchase price. If you are laying out $15 for an e-book, and north of $25 for a hardback print version, I think most readers would insist on %100 reading satisfaction. For $5? Eh - take a chance!

Levi Montgomery said...

Art, this isn't so much about ebook pricing (frankly, I think that the very existence of ebooks (which we cannot avoid) will lead to people demanding free fiction, just like music), but you certainly don't have to shanghai your sister into buying your book. Amazon has a free Kindle application that will run on your PC and let you see if your book looks right.


Art Edwards said...

I agree, Celia. If someone is intrigued by a title of mine, I don't want price to be a barrier.

Levi, thanks for the heads-up.

And I have the same concerns. I'm doing my best to embrace it.

Anonymous said...

regardless of how good a book it is, that a book is self-pubbed means I'll probably never buy it. I know that seems... snobbish... perhaps, but... that's how I feel..

Lee C. said...

At that price, I'm assuming it's a marginal book, at best. You want a Mercedes, you pay Mercedes prices. You want a Yugo, you pay Yugo prices. You get what you pay for. At $4.99 I assume the book is a Yugo.

Art Edwards said...

Sam, many feel the same way.

Lee, I like the Yugo metaphor, but a Yugo can never be a Mercedes.

I can't approach a self-published work--or a minor league baseball game--without concerns about quality. Is it going to live up to my expectations of what a good book is? If people know your work is self-published, they know they're paying for minor league baseball--or worse. Trying to convince them otherwise seems foolhardy to me.

If you like baseball, you can enjoy a minor league game for what it is. And maybe you'll see a player or two that will eventually get to the Bigs.

Susan Higginbotham said...

Really depends upon the book. I read mostly history and historical fiction these days, so if it was about a subject that I was particularly interested in, I'd be willing to pay a higher price.

What means a lot to me in deciding whether to buy a self-published book is whether the author's provided an excerpt. If I like what I see, I'll be willing to take a chance and buy the book. If I've no opportunity to preview the book, I'm not likely to buy it unless it's really cheap or if it's a topic in which I'm deeply interested.