Self Publishing On The Kindle – Setting The Right Selling Price


Setting the right price for your self-published eBook on the Kindle is a tricky one. Everyone has an opinion about this, and the jury is out on whether a low or high selling price is the right choice.

I’ve worked with a good cross section of authors over the past few months, converting both their new manuscripts and previously printed books for the Kindle, and no two books have had the same selling price.

They always ask for my advice which I gladly give based on my experience of seeing what sells and what doesn’t. You sort of get a feel for what is the right price for a Kindle book after you’ve read through it a dozen times and played about with the formatting.

I always tell them what price I would set if it were my book, and this is genuine impartial advice, I make nothing from the actual sale of the book. But it’s very much a ‘how long is a piece of string’ type question to which there appears to be no correct answer.

Ask a roomful of published Kindle authors about their pricing structure and you’ll get a roomful of different opinions. So what is the best answer?

What I generally see is this….let’s say the author has written a first time novel and wants to make his/her mark. It’s a decent enough work, worth promoting and selling, and the author is outgoing and personable and willing to promote it. What happens then is that the author says something along the lines of “I don’t want to give my book away so I want to set a fairly high price to begin with then if nothing happens I can drop the price later.

This seems a reasonable enough strategy, but to be honest, in my opinion, it rarely works.

I know others who have sold tons of books this way, but for most of my ‘unknown’ writers this just doesn’t work. In my experience setting a lower selling price wins in the end.

The counter-argument from authors is always “If I sell it too low everyone will think it’s a poor novel. That if it’s cheap it’s badly written, riddled with typos, and just ‘another run of the mill novel by a first time writer’ and I don’t want to give that impression.”

That’s fair enough. But I have seen too many authors publish their book on Kindle and offer it for sale at £6 ($9) then, despite promoting it to death to friends and colleagues and distant cousins, they see no sales at all. Zero. Zilch.

Then comes the mad scramble to drop the price and they feel terribly let down. It’s natural.

One final word about non-fiction….technical books, advice books and similar publications…..I can see there is a difference here. The writer has done a lot of research, has probably written the book after a lifetime of working in that field.  Perhaps they are an expert, and it seems right for them to charge a decent amount of money for all their efforts. I would go along with that, but still advise them to be careful about pricing the book out of the reach of most ‘casual’ buyers.

So to sum up – set the price low, rather than too high.

I’d welcome any feedback on this post as I think it’s something all writers considering publishing their work on the Kindle need to know about…

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About writegoodbooks

I help new writers become published authors through self-publishing. I also offer writers the chance to have their work converted into Kindle eBooks and publish them on the Amazon Kindle store.

8 responses to “Self Publishing On The Kindle – Setting The Right Selling Price”

  1. Scott says :

    I have a slightly different take than most beginning writers. I want my name and my books out there being read, and if I have to price them so cheap as to be giving them away, so be it. I have the self-confidence to think my work is good, and I think my future work will be as good or better.

    Because of that, the more people I can get to download and read my books now, the more likely they are to recommend me to friends and/or purchase my books in the future. This is why I made my first book free as a PDF on my blog and 99 cents for Kindle on Amazon. This is why its sequel has been made available in Amazon’s free downloads program a couple of times. What have I seen? I have seen book one sell for 99 cents when book two is free. I have seen hundreds of readers download my books, and some of those folks have turned around and bought book one and/or bought paper copies (self-published via Amazon’s CreateSpace). Am I making a ton of money yet? Nope. Am I making a little? Yes. Is this laying the groundwork for future success? Hopefully.

  2. francisguenette says :

    I don’t know yet if I’ve made the right choice – but I set my novel for 3.99 (Canadian). Time will tell – it’s not a short novel, so I might have been able to go higher, but as you say, better low than too high.

  3. bwfoster78 says :

    The thing is, it’s just so easy to change your price. Try a high price. If it doesn’t work, change it.

    Your objection seems to be based on an emotional response on the part of the author.

    If you’re self publishing, you need to strive to treat it like a business. I understand that you can’t help but have an emotional reaction, but finding the right price point needs to be about maximizing revenue (either short of long term) instead of emotions.

    Thanks for the post.

    Brian
    http://www.brianwfoster.com

    • writegoodbooks says :

      I take your point about the ease of changing the price, but try telling first time authors it’s not an ’emotional’ experience….

      Great comment though….valid business advice.

  4. rolark says :

    A really helpful post, thanks! I’m getting close to finishing some novels and want to try and sell them in electronic format. It’s really hard to decide what would be a good price since there’s no “overhead” involved in their production.

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