Hello, I am an independently published author and I have just made my first $2,000 dollars off my short story collection “The Soft Landing Collection.”
I’ve sold around 265 copies since I released it in winter. I’ve been getting a decent number of sales each month, and am probably going to launch another marketing campaign soon. That being said, I am relatively new to the IndpiePub scene and recently ended up looking for feedback on my Amazon listing. Someone was offering to do just that on Twitter and it seemed like fun.
I expected to get critique for my story summary or lack of many reviews. I didn’t expect to be told that “the only concern is the price. $10 is a hard sell on an ebook.”
I was a little surprised by this. I was aware that the majority of self-published authors had books for .99 cents and even free. I had never stopped to consider that maybe ALL their books were priced that way or in the $5–7 dollar range. Doing a little research I realized that most people recommend selling your eBook low. And frankly? It’s time to stop.
Here is why you should be charging more for your books.
- The Principle of Perceived Value
We like to believe that there is an agreed upon standard of “good.” A cake by a professional cake-maker will be objectively “good.” A high-end retailer will make shoes that are physically “good.” However, if you’ve ever bought expensive linens or made an unfortunate purchase of a fan that kind of sucks, you know that Gucci puts out God-awful ugly clothes all the time.
However, people instinctively still want to get into the club. They’ll want access to something that appears more exclusive. They still buy Gucci. The truth is that goods don’t have intrinsic indisputable value, they just have perceived value. And a high price is one place to start shaping that perception.
You should definitely aim to put out work that is “good,” but the idea that some authors have earned the right to price their books higher and others haven’t is untrue. There’s no such thing as universally agreed upon “good” writing. No book is intrinsically worth more than others — it’s all perception. It’s just whatever people are willing to pay.
You don’t have to wait to be “good enough” and you’re not doing yourself any favors by pricing yourself low. Psychologically speaking, people are more attracted to things that appear to have more value, monetary or otherwise.
And personally? I think my writing is valuable as hell, so I price it like that too.
2. Books are cheap (to the people who buy them)
Strictly speaking, most economists think of books as cheap luxury items. This means that as your income increases you tend to buy more of them. Furthermore, compared to other luxury items, spending 10 to 25 bucks on a book is not the same as buying a sports car or fine wine. It’s the poor man’s home movie theatre.
While people with less money do read and often want to read there is another important factor. They may have access to public libraries or free book bins, but they unfortunately will often not have the time to read. Reading as a hobby takes hours of your night or day and usually requires that you have the mental or physical energy to do it.
So who is buying books? People with time. And time is expensive.
People who can buy time can almost always afford to spend 10 bucks. The difference between $5 and $10 is almost negligible to them while it can mean a world of difference to you and your bank account.
Note: If you do have more readers who are less financially well-off then you can also encourage them to order your book at their local library. Library sales are just as good as any other sale, if not better. Just show readers an image such as this:
And tell them to go through their local library.
3. You can always lower prices later
You’ve heard it before: it’s easy to give something, but much harder to take it away. If you’ve ever interacted with a three-year old you’ve probably gotten to know this principle intimately. It seems intuitive to say that it doesn’t hurt to start with your best foot forward. It doesn’t hurt to price your book high just to see what happens.
Having a sale later on is almost always expected anyway. Starting at $10 dollars and lowering it to $7 is easy. It is much harder to start off at $1 dollar and then raise the price later on. It just doesn’t look good. Furthermore, if we all start pricing our books higher to begin with than readers will pick that up as the new norm. They will be willing to spend more on a good that frankly takes a lot of work to make and is relatively cheap to buy.
This is a team effort with only good results. Whether or not you’re rowing a dingy or on a cruise liner, you know what they say about tides . . .
We can all get a little high with our friends.
That being said, you’ll of course have to put in the work of buying or creating a nice cover, writing a coherent story, hiring an editor, and setting up a notable presence online beforehand. I spent years building up my follower count before I actually launched my book. But the price itself? Aim high.
And hey! Check out my short story collection about mermaids in zoos, floating continents, and curses that make flowers sprout from your skin.