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E-book Pricing Strategies

Posted on: September 16th, 2014 by Publisher Services

Since we first began assisting self-publishers, one question which is constantly asked is “how should I price my book?”   For printed books, this has always been a tricky question due to production and inventory costs. In many cases small independent self-publishers cannot afford to print large quantities of books which would lower their average production costs. Consequently, many are forced to price their books slightly higher than they imagined, just recouping their costs and yielding a meager profit.

E-book pricing strategy has nothing to do with production costs – and everything to do with marketing. Establishing an e-book’s price requires research and creativity on the part of the self-publisher. The author must ascertain a book’s realistic potential audience and gauge the realistic demand. In addition, the author needs to identify the purpose of their marketing efforts. Is the goal to increase REVENUE or EXPOSURE?


“Do I want more sales or more readers?”


When asked the question above, most authors would probably say they want both. It is better to identify one primary goal and let the secondary goal organically develop. Both approaches can be successful, so self-publishers need to do some soul searching and identify what is really important to them now.


Revenue – Show me the money!

Self-publishers who are focused on increasing sales should begin researching the pricing of other e-books in the same genre. For example, the price for romance e-books is between 99 cents and $3.99. Factors, such as size, e-book conversion formatting, illustrations, cover design, need to be evaluated to gauge how an e-book might compare against competing titles.

Authors should aim to start out at a price under $10 if possible, and experiment with different price points with short-term promotions. Amazon pays 70% of the retail download price for e-books priced between $2.99 and $9.99, and 35% for those below $2.99.

Once the price is set, self-publishers should make use of promotions to boost sales. For a Kindle e-book priced at $8.99, run a Kindle Countdown Deal for $4.99. If you are trying to sell it at $4.99, run a promotion at $2.99. Obviously, a coordinated advertising effort is necessary to yield positive results.

For new and less established authors, a lower price will help entice readers who might be willing to take a chance on 99 cent book. And, unlike a physical book with a price printed on the back cover, it is relatively easy to increase the price of an e-book once demand starts building.


Exposure – I want to be popular!

For publishers whose main goal is getting their e-book in front of as many readers as possible, the priority should be getting the price point as low as possible.


Due to their enormous market size, we often encourage clients to consider selling their e-books through Amazon’s KDP Select program. This simple to manage program allows authors to charge a low price for the book (99 cents being the most popular) and offer it for free for specific periods.

Authors can participate in a Kindle Free Book Promotion for a maximum of five days. There are a few online website which publicize book giveaways for free. These sites offer a wonderful way to get the word out to a large audience of readers and yield the greatest exposure from the giveaway.


Whether your primary goal is to gain sales or popularity, the online e-book marketplaces, such as Amazon, provide rich sales data to enable you to analyze how your pricing strategies are performing. Successful e-book marketing requires constant review and revision.