Amazon is the only major ebook seller that requires ebooks to have a minimum price of $.99. They will, however, match the price of the books their competitors offer – at their discretion. For the most part they have matched the free price of my books. Some two years ago they decided not to price match The Bright Black Sea (then priced at $3.99), and in the six months before the release of Castaways of the Lost Star, I sold something like 10 copies. This month they have again decided not to price match both The Bright Black Sea, my “best seller” and Some Day Days, my slowest seller. While I would rather just give my books away, I’m cool with that, since they have, over the last nearly three years, kindly matched my free price (in the US). I can’t complain.
Now, if I could sell a copy a day, at $.99 I’d be very happy – that would put me in the upper 5 - 6 % of indie authors on sales volume. I’d accept half that sales figure. But below that, I think I could find a better use for my prices on Amazon.
I view the price of a book as a marketing decision. I chose FREE because I could “sell” a hundred times the books I could sell if I put a price on them, even as low as $.99. And I could get a hundred times the ratings and reviews, which I value. And although I’ve no intention of making a career of writing, if I was, I’d likely follow the same strategy – the Amazon strategy of losing money early to build a long term business. (Especially since it would be pocket change.) However, there are some people who think the price of a book is a self-awarded badge of excellence. If an author doesn’t charge money for their book, or very little, they think it is because the author doesn’t think highly of it. I really doubt that this is the case. You don’t publish something for everyone to read that you think stinks – no one needs that kind of grief. This snobbish attitude also extend to readers. I’ve come across postings on blogs were the readers of free books are disparaged, not worth a real author’s efforts. I don’t know how widespread this attitude, this misconception, is, but just in case it is widespread, I can now do something to address it. I can raise my list prices on Amazon.
So what should I charge for my books, if I want them to reflect my self-awarded badge of excellence? Prior to listing all of them at $.99, I had them at $1.99 for Some Day Days, $2.99 for A Summer in Amber, and $3.99 for The Bright Black Sea. These are standard indie-published prices. But… well, I think my books are better than the standard indie-published book, so if price reflects quality, I really should price them out of the common indie range. Right? $9.99 is the highest price one can set and still get Amazon’s 70% royalties, so most ebooks stay under that limit. However, big publishers charge between $12 and $15 or more for their new releases, and my books are certainly as good as theirs, so perhaps I’d best follow their lead and price my books in similar fashion. I can afford to turn a blind eye to the fact that pricing them over $9.99 will actually bring me less money because I know that they will actually bring me no money. So, with that thinking here is my new Amazon Price List, effective 1 Feb. 2018:
Some Day Days: ebook $5.50 177 page trade paperback $9.00
A Summer in Amber: ebook $8.50 276 page trade paperback $12.00
The Bright Black Sea: ebook $12.50 703 page trade paperback $25.00
The Lost Star’s Sea: ebook $12.50 723 page trade paperback $25.00
All of the ebook versions will remain FREE in all the other stores, Kobo, iBook, Barnes & Noble, and Smashwords. Hopefully Amazon will soon go back to matching their competitor's prices for all books. But that will be up to them.