"How much should I charge for my ebook?"—It's the question every new book publisher asks before entering the digital marketplace and one with no easy answer.
While ebooks become more prevalent with mainstream readers, publishers still struggle to find the magic price point that appeals to consumers and generates maximum sales. For new publishers, experts' suggestions range from 99 cents to $9.99 while established publishing houses offer new titles starting at $15.99. And because ebooks can vary in content and quality as much as their print counterparts, there is no "one-size-fits-all" pricing solution. Instead, publishers have to rely on the trial-and-error method. You can simplify your own pricing process by developing a pricing strategy specifically suited to your sales goals and customer behaviour.
To formulate your pricing strategy, first determine your book's value, target audience, and sales goals.
• What is your book's value? Consumers are conditioned to pay more for materials they deem worthwhile to career advancement or self-betterment whereas they're less keen to spend much on ebooks with pure entertainment value. If you're selling a reference guide with specialty content (worksheets, embedded illustrations, tutorials, etc.), you would position your book in a different price range than you would a short book of humourous essays.
• Who is your target audience? Are you targeting a niche market or reaching out to general audience? If you have an established fan base, they may be more willing to pay a little extra for your title because they're already familiar with your work. An unknown author promoting a new novel might have better luck with a lower price point to entice new readers.
• What are your sales goals? Is it more important to maximize profit or broaden your readership? Are you prepared to sell your title at a loss in order to gain prominence in the marketplace? Factor in the expenses involved with the creation and release of your ebook and determine a reasonable time frame in which to recover those costs.
Your actual pricing strategy should include your anchor price—the standard price point at which you plan to list your book—and a flexible timetable for offering discounts and other price modifications. Choose a price range that best reflects your goals and be prepared to experiment with different price points to gauge customer behaviour. Offer your title at the lower end of the range as an introductory price to penetrate the marketplace. If sales performance is strong, you may try raising the price. Take care not to raise or drop prices too sharply or with too much frequency as erratic pricing may scare off potential customers.
Review sales data regularly to identify trends and opportunities and use those reports to inform changes in marketing and pricing strategies. If your title has a seasonal tie-in or is in direct competition with a new release on a similar topic, adjust your sales price to attract new buyers and remain competitive.
The ebook market is still evolving and demands flexibility, patience, and perseverance. A strong pricing strategy will keep your sales goals on track and prolong your book's success in the digital marketplace.
Content on this site was originally written by Katharine Miller between 2000-2015. Many feature articles and interviews were published in print and on websites that no longer exist. Katharine is reproducing her written material here for portfolio and archival purposes only. Links and credits to clients and original publication will be included where possible.