Sunday, August 14, 2011

Authors, Be Aware!

Money's tight, so we all need to be alert. I noticed an email ad from Kohl's about free shipping, with no purchase limit, along with 15% off. I then remembered I'd also received a mailer ad containing a 20% off code. I knew what I wanted to buy, so I went online and completed the transaction. What would have been a $51.00 charge became $35.36.

Many readers are out of jobs, or making less money than before. They're looking for deals also. Authors need to be aware of this trend. If you're publishing a book on Amazon Kindle or Smashwords, don't overcharge. Unless you're super-popular, you won't make many sales.

Or, maybe you're entering into a contract with a publisher. If so, think about that publisher's record with ebooks. Are they usually overpriced? What percentage of the sales will you get? Would it be worth it to keep the electronic rights if the publisher will allow it?

The majority of readers still want print, but the tide is still turning. While it does, and probably afterwards, overpriced ebooks don't sell as well. People still want to read, but they're looking for bargains. I know I am.

My current romantic suspense, Killer Career, is priced at 99 cents on Amazon Kindle and at Smashwords. I plan to put Forever Young-Blessing or Curse up at $2.99 at first. I have two backlist books I'm getting ready to also transfer over, and don't plan to go higher than $2.99 for any of them.

What are your thoughts about ebook pricing and book trends?

You can also find Morgan Mandel at
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  1. 2.99 certainly seems today's sweet spot for an ebook, although I have several introductory titles, first in a series for instance for as low as 99c

    Certainly see no reason why an ebook should be higher than 3.99 as I have a few at that price as well.

    at a Kindle Store near you...

  2. There could be several aspects to this. If an author has a big fan base, they will still pay for the newest book even if the price is relatively high because they know what they are getting for their money.
    On the other hand, to build a fan base, some writers offer their books for very low prices. If the strategy works, that's great. However, there are some consumers who believe that if the price is really low, it also means the quality of the product (or book in this case) is equally so. It's a fine balance how to price a book.

    Having a publisher means a book has to be higher priced because the author makes relatively little but lots of other people in production need to be paid, editors, proofreaders, cover artists, etc. but it does mean all of those resources are behind the book.

  3. Morgan--you're preaching to the choir, here! I am the bargain shopper deluxe--I always look for sales things. Honestly, I don't need to....but even so, I have a frugal soul, and I also wonder why some things should be priced so high when they're not worth it.

    Books...same here. I'm still of the old crowd and deep down still prefer prints. So, I use my library like crazy. If I buy an ebook, I'd go over $6 if it was something I just HAD to read and couldn't get it anyplace else.
    I've seen a few better known romance authors charging $8.99 for an ebook. That, my dear, is ludicrous. If I find an author I like and see a $2.99 book, I'll snatch it up--even if I have ten already snatched up--I'll read it eventually.
    One of my six publishers charges way too much for the ebook and print. I bought a lot of prints at my author's discount...which wasn't as good as the others...and made a little money. To date, that book on Amazon, print or ebook, has not sold one copy. And I'm not pushing it, either, because their policy is all wrong. I won't ask anyone to pay that for my book.

    It's a Catch 22 for publishers, I know. If I had the brains to go Indie, I would, but I do not want to learn all that formatting and cover business. So, I stick with publishers.

    Morgan,this is a great topic. I applaud you for the prices you charge, and wish you much luck.
    I have one 99 cent book on Amazon--it's a short story--and it stays at the top of my best seller list.

  4. I always learn when I read your posts. My publisher sets the prices so that's not under my control, but it is one of the things to consider with anyone new.

  5. I'm so pleased to see the influx of ebooks, but with self-publishing authors having the leeway to price their own work, it definitely makes my contracted work look less appealing. $2.99 appeals to the economy more than $5.95, but I don't have the opportunity to lower the price. I'm happy to say that according to my last royalty check, there are some who still pay the price to read my novels. :)

  6. Morgan,

    Great point! Thanks for sharing.

    Nicole Weaver
    Trilingual Children's Author

  7. I think you're dead on (no pun intended). The well established writers, King's, Grisham's, Patterson's, etc., will be able to get away with slightly higher priced e-books, but like you I am a serial bargain hunter. I've even picked up a few freebies from Amazon only because they were free . . . I wouldn't have purchased them otherwise.

  8. I confess to shopping the freebies as well at Amazon kindle! I've also found some great books and authors I like. The ones I don't, I can stop reading with no regrets.

    Morgan Mandel

  9. Morgan, I keep hearing that - overpriced ebooks from the big boys are going to sell less and less.
    We hit Borders in Raleigh yesterday, but all we came out of there with was a calendar and several blank journals. My husband looked at the books they had and even on sale, said he could get the ebooks so much cheaper. (New releases.) He also says $10 is his limit on an ebook and he's already purchsed quite a few around $2.99.

  10. My new ebook, Osiris' Missing Part was priced $8.94 on amazone but $5.24 on Ellora's Cave Blush. I don't know who specifies the price on Amazon. It hasn't sold a single copy on Amazon, but doing well at the Ellora's Cave Blush. I am seriously thinking about self-publishing. But I don't know how I can self-pub in print. Ant suggestion?

  11. I'm trying Create Space with Amazon.If I'm not happy I'll go back to Lightning Source. Right now the two are duking it out on Amazon and the LS books are being shipped later.

  12. You raise an excellent point. When evaluating a potential publisher, I've looked at covers and lots of other things, but I haven't been looking at ebook prices. Next time I will!

  13. While I'm definitely a capitalist, I don't believe in charging a higher price just because I can get away with it. It just "feels" greedy. "How much more can I get out of the buyer???"

    As a reader, I'll pay up to $4.99 for fiction, depending on whether I know the author or not. And I've noticed authors charging the same or within a dollar for the ebooks that they charge for the paper. That turns me off.

    Maybe it's a Half-full mentality, but I think there is plenty to go around (readers, money, etc.), and by charging a price that more people can afford, the author creates return customers.

  14. That $4.99 refers to ebooks.

  15. I haven't had an ereader long, but in that time... I've read lots of free classics (Yay Project Gutenberg!) and a few self-pubs, none of which were priced over $5.

    For most novels, I'm still buying print copies because they're not much more (if any more) expensive and I don't have that lovely fear that they're somehow going to become unreadable due to some funky restriction placed on them.

  16. I don't have any play with e book pricing, having just--after 11 years of trying to break in--received an offer from my dream publisher. But the freedom and control independent authors have to find that 'sweet spot' is certainly enviable, and will probably make e copies sell much better in those cases, at least until things shake out. How, I'm not sure. It'll be fun to watch! (I am having fun watching all of this these days. Exciting times :)

    PS--Love the photos!

  17. Hi Morgan,
    You are so right. People are much more wary about spending their money these days, and we need to price our books accordingly.



  18. Great topic, us something to think about!

  19. As usual, Morgan, your finger is on the pulse. I recently self-pubbed a collection of my short stories. I did it as an ebook via Kindle and Smashwords and also a print version with CreateSpace. I self-pubbed so I could control the ebook price, currently at $2.99. Haven't gone the 99 cents route yet, but I have the freedom to do that at some point. I love the new world of publishing because - finally! - authors have some control over their own work.

  20. Great're spot on as usual. It is hard to part with one's money when it's tighter than usual, even for something you want. Definitely have been buying more e-books than ever!

  21. Hi, Morgan,
    I'm in the process of putting up my backlist, and found your article and the comments of interest. Setting the price has been a difficult decision. I just put up my first on Kindle and priced it at .99. We'll see what happens. Like you, I'm not going over 2.99. I love having the power to set the price in the first place and to change it if I so choose.

    Linda Hope Lee

  22. Excellent advice, Morgan. It behooves us to take a look at the big picture and make our work appealing to readers, especially when spending money on books is a luxury. I know I pick up a lot of 99 cent or free books for my Kindle.


  23. I went to buy the ebook for Stephen King's On Writing...older book but I'd never read it and wanted to. The paperback was cheaper than the ebook which was a first for me. I bought the paperback at $2 less than the ebook. I don't know why it was priced like that. I plan on putting out some ebooks soon and I totally agree with you on the price - $2.99 or below for me.


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