Thursday, 12 January 2012

What Book Price will Get the Most Sales for my Novel?

The self-published author has complete control over pricing the digital novel or paperback equivalent, but what is the magic figure to getting optimum sales for your novel?

Increasing Sales of Your Novel

It is generally understood that a kindle novel should be considerably cheaper than its paperback counterpart for there are no printing or shipping costs, but marketing your book on the Amazon kindle Store means getting competitive with the price.

We will cover the matter of paperbacks in a moment, but firstly, publishing your ebook on Amazon gives you the choice of 2 royalty options, which are 35% and 70%. If you price your book at between $2.99 and $9.99, you can go for the 70% option (transmission costs will apply – determined by the size of your book file); if you price your book outside this frame, you only have the 35% royalty option available. (Note: sales of books in certain countries will earn a 35% royalty, even if you have opted for the 70% royalty.) On Amazon’s Kindle store, you cannot price your book for less than 99c unless you have priced it for less elsewhere and Amazon price-determines your book to match it. On Smashwords, for instance, you can price your book for what you like. If you enroll into Amazon’s Select programme, you can price it for free on special promotion days (more about KDP Select in a moment.)

How Not to Price Your Digital Book

From personal experience, I have found the pricing of a novel to be a fine art, but basically, the price should reflect:
  • The length of your book, for instance if it is over 100,000 words long, you could price it a little higher than average; if it is a novella, it would make sense to price it for less. Put the word count in the synopsis so that the customer can see how long the book is.
  • If the writer is of note, has won awards or has had success in the publishing world, garnering good reviews and consistent sales, the price of the book could be set a little higher.
  • If the book contains special features, for instance images or diagrams.
  • Or if the book is more than 2 or 3 megabytes in size.
Always conduct research before pricing your novel. Take a look at the average price of a book in your genre, book length and a-like author. There is an equal danger of being too cheap as too pricey. There are a lot of indie novels out there for 99c and there is a culture by association that a cheap book will equal a cheap read. Reflect the quality of the book in the pricing. I sell all my enovels for around £1 each (or $1.50). But I have seen kindle books for around £10 or more, which are unlikely to generate sales.

Generating Book Sales on Kindle

The indie writer can sell the book for less than 99c on Amazon if it is priced less elsewhere (Amazon will try to match it if you have priced it for less on Smashwords). However, I have discovered a way of earning 70% royalty for your book by making Amazon price match your book if it is available cheaper elsewhere. Read my article on earning higher royalties for your books at a low purchase price.

If you have enrolled into Amazon’s KDP Select, you can price it for free on special promotion days, which could generate sales in the long run (you can  put your book for free on Smashwords, will will enforce Amazon to do the same). Free books could equal lots of readers, exposure, recommendations and reviews. But the question remains, should you price your book for free?

When to Put Your Book out for Free on KDP Select

KDP Select Programme enables the writer to earn extra income by enrolling the book into a Kindle Owners’ Lending Library. Kindle customers who are ‘Prime Members’ (who have paid a small annual fee to borrow books for free) can borrow your books (one at a time) and you can earn lending rights. This works rather like the library’s public lending right (PLR). Each loan earns you a share of Amazon’s annual pot of money. You can also sells books for free for up to 5 days per 90 days. A kindle customer (regardless of being a prime member or not) can upload your novel for free, and this often generates hundreds of uploads over the promotion period. But how can offering your book for free help the indie writer make money?

Making Money from Free Ebooks

Putting your digital books out for free could generate sales in the long run in the following ways:
  • If you have written a book series or sequels to a novel, you could entice the reader by offering the first book for free. This could generate sales of the sequels.
  • If one of you books isn’t selling well regardless of marketing strategies, there is little harm in opting this book into the KDP Select programme, but do so after careful consideration, for once you opt in, you cannot sell you novels digitally elsewhere and you cannot opt out again.
  • If you sell your book for around 99c anyway, you could earn more money by ‘loans’ than by the royalties. But you can continue to earn royalties at the same time, as your book will still be for sale in the normal way.
  • Of course, free often means lots of downloads, and lots of downloads could lead to reviews, recommendations and exposure.
What is the Best Price for My Paperback on Createspace?

Createspace is really Amazon’s other publishing limb that deals with the production of the paperback as opposed to ebooks. Createspace is a print on demand setup which makes overheads a little more costly than a mass-produced paperback. However, there is no danger of surplus books to sell or outlay, as the book is printed only when it is sold. For these reasons, pricing the paperback is completely different to pricing the ebook.

Createspace offers several sales channels on which to sell your book. Your book will automatically show up on Amazon and on your own ebookstore once you join Createspace. Your book’s price is determined by:
  • Book dimensions
  • Page count
  • And if it is colour or black and white.
Black and white is much cheaper to produce than colour, which is good news for the novel writer. I try to price my paperbacks as cheaply as possible but aim to get at least $1 royalty per sale. Royalty yields are larger if you make a sale on your own Amazon estore as opposed to

What is Expanded Distribution Channel and How can it Help the Writer?

For a one-off fee of $25 per book you can go for Createspace’s expanded distribution channel (EDC). Until recently you only had access to this channel through Pro Plan, but that has now changed.

You can now opt into EDC to sell your books outside Amazon, such as academic institutions, libraries and book retailers. The downside is that the overheads are slightly  increased, meaning you have to charge a little more for your book. Within such a cut-throat industry as book selling, would retailers allow for this extra charge per book?

The Best Price for Selling Your Books

Indie writers have lots of control over pricing their books, but factors remain. Consider the following summarizing points:
  • A kindle book should be cheaper than its paperback counterpart.
  • The price should reflect the quality of the novel, the author’s reputation, the book’s length and any special features.
  • The price should be competitive but not to give the impression it is a cheap read, particularly if it is a book of quality.
  • Strategically offering your book for free on promotion days could generate long term sales with more reviews and enticement to buy sequels/series.
  • As for the paperback counterpart, overheads are larger, as there are production costs to consider. Deciding factors are the book’s dimension, page count and whether it is colour or not. I try to get at least $1 royalty per book.
  • Opting into EDC for a small fee enables you to sell your books outside Amazon. But this means increasing the price of your book slightly. Opt in only if you are confident your book will sell to outside book outlets.
And lastly, experiment. Change the book price now and again to see how this affects sales. It is a long term game and seasonal fluctuations occur, regardless of the price setting. Keep in touch with how like-books are priced across digital platforms and on Createspace to remain in touch with how your book’s pricing fits into the marketplace.

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