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How to Price Your Self-Pub Book

Pricing Strategies for Self-Published Books: A Guide for Lifers

Hello, Lifers! Today, we're going to delve into the world of pricing strategies for self-published books. Pricing is a critical aspect of your self-publishing journey--and can also be the ticking time bomb that waits to destroy all you hold dear. MWA-hahaha!

Okay, maybe not that last. But it can definitely be a huge factor in your book's success (or lack thereof). Pricing isn't just about slapping a number on your book cover. It's a delicate balance of art and science, of understanding your market and the perceived value of your work. Remember Goldilocks? She didn't want her porridge too hot or too cold, but just right. The same goes for your book pricing. Too high, and you risk alienating potential readers. Too low, and you devalue your work, not to mention your bottom line.

So, how do you strike the right balance?

Each platform, whether it's Amazon, Nook, iBooks, Kobo, or others, has its own pricing policies. Understanding these can help you make an informed decision. For instance, Amazon's KDP program encourages pricing between $2.99 and $9.99 by offering a 70% royalty rate. Outside this range, the royalty drops to 35%. This is a clear incentive to price within their preferred range.

But pricing isn't just about numbers; it's about perception.

A price can signal quality, value, and even evoke emotional responses. Experimenting with pricing can provide valuable insights into your readers' behavior and preferences.

So how do you pick the RIGHT price?


Before you set your price, you need to understand your market. This isn't just about knowing your genre or your audience, but about understanding the economic landscape of your particular niche. It's about knowing what other authors in your genre are charging, and why. It's about understanding the average price for a book in your category and how your book compares. Research is key here, Lifers, and it's a step that should never be skipped.

Take a look at the top sellers in your genre. What are their prices? Are there any commonalities you can identify? Do debut authors price their books lower than established authors? Are there differences in pricing between indie authors and traditionally published authors? These are all questions you should be asking as you conduct your research.

But don't stop there. Look at books that are similar to yours in length, quality, and subject matter. Consider the prices of books that have a similar number of reviews and a similar average rating. And don't forget to take into account the format. Ebooks, paperbacks, hardcovers, and audiobooks all have different pricing norms.

Finally, remember that your research should be ongoing. The market changes, and so should your understanding of it. Keep an eye on trends, watch for shifts in pricing strategies, and always be ready to adjust your own pricing if necessary. Be curious about everything you see that mentions prices or pricing! You're an author--and the best part (or one of them) of being an author is that you get to be professionally ignorant, and thus perpetually enlightened!

The power of free

Yes, you read that right. Sometimes, offering your book for free can be a powerful strategy, especially for series. It's like a sample at a bakery - get them hooked on the first taste, and they'll be back for more. But how do you leverage this strategy effectively? Let's delve into the specifics.

Firstly, if you're enrolled in Amazon's Kindle Direct Publishing Select (KDP Select), you have the option to offer your book for free for up to five days during each 90-day KDP Select enrollment period. This can be a fantastic way to generate a spike in downloads, increase your visibility, and attract new readers. But remember, Lifers, timing is everything. Consider aligning your free days with a marketing push, such as a newsletter blast, social media campaign, or a promotional feature on a site like BookBub.

Now, you might be wondering, "But what if I want to make my book free all the time?"

While Amazon doesn't technically offer a "permafree" option, there's a workaround. You can set your book's price to free on other platforms (like Smashwords, Kobo, or iBooks), and then report the lower price to Amazon. They often match the price, making your book "permafree" on their platform. This can be a great strategy for the first book in a series, drawing readers in and encouraging them to purchase the subsequent books.

However, it's important to remember that while free can be a powerful tool, it's not a strategy to be used lightly. Consider your goals, your audience, and the specifics of your book and series. And as always, don't be afraid to experiment and see what works best for you. After all, every book, every author, and every reader is unique. What works for one might not work for another. So, Lifers, harness the power of free, but do so with strategy, intention, and a keen understanding of your market.

The power of NOT free

Understanding the psychology of pricing is like having a secret weapon. It's not just about the actual value of your book, but how readers perceive that value. And believe it or not, Lifers, the difference of a few cents can have a significant impact on your sales.

One common strategy is charm pricing, also known as the "left-digit effect". This is where prices end in .99 or .95 instead of rounding up to the nearest dollar. The reason? Studies have shown that we perceive $4.99 to be significantly less than $5.00. It might seem like a small difference, but this psychological trick can lead to a noticeable increase in sales.

But the psychology of pricing goes beyond just charm pricing. It's also about understanding your readers and their expectations. For example, if you're writing high-quality, in-depth non-fiction, your readers might expect to pay a higher price. On the other hand, if you're writing a short, light-hearted romance, a lower price might be more appealing.

In the end, the key is to experiment and find what works best for your books and your audience. Remember, Lifers, understanding the psychology of pricing is not about manipulating your readers, but about finding a price that reflects the value of your work and resonates with your readers.

The process takes time and effort (sheesh, what DOESN'T?), but with both of those, you can hit that Goldilocks spot and get your readers to say, "Why Grandma, what big eyes you have that are just right?!"

Okay, I think I'm mixing metaphors--and maybe fairy tales. But the point is: you can do this. Get out there and find the price that works for you!

Welcome to the Bestseller Life Blog!

I'm Michaelbrent Collings, an international bestseller and produced screenwriter, as well as a multiple Bram Stoker Award and Dragon Award finalist, and maker of a fair-to-middling chocolate chip waffle.

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