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Welcome back to Austen Promises and the Writer’s Journal!

There was a question that came up on Facebook recently from a reader, on the Austen Authors page, about pricing. The post remained, amazingly enough for Facebook, a peaceful and respectful exchange. There are as many reasons for different prices as there are authors, and it’s not easy to decide on a price, at least for e-books.

Let me start by saying that for print books, at this point, I am merely taking the suggested price up to the next 99 cent mark. I make little off a print copy. A dollar, maybe a dollar and a half. I continue to do them for two reasons: one, there is a market for them; and two, I like to have copies to hold in my hand and exclaim, “I did that!!” 🙂  You might ask why I bother to take them up to the 99 cent mark; there is some psychological reason for it that I’m pretty vague in my understanding of, but for whatever reason, buyers are more likely to buy a book whose price ends in “99.” Otherwise, I’d leave them at the minimum that CreateSpace suggests.

Now on to e-books. When I started out, I had a pricing structure that I created based on length. It went something like, up to 40,000 words = $3.99; 40,001 to 60,000 words = $5.99; 60,001 to 80,000 words = $7.99; and more than 80,000 words = $9.99. Kind of complicated, right? And given the fact that readers have no clue how many words there are unless I tell them, they are not going to distinguish the difference. Also, while I have written novels of up to something like 65,000 words, I have never come close to 70,000. And if I’m writing more than 80,000 words in a single book, someone needs to check me into a mental facility, because there is something seriously wrong with me. 😉

Nowadays, I have three prices that I assign to books. If it’s a short novella of fewer than 25,000 words, I price it at $2.99. If it’s a longer novella of 25,000 to 40,000 words, then I price it at $3.99, and if it’s a novel—more than 40,000 words—it is $7.99, regardless of length. I also price my bundles at that $7.99 amount, because it gives the buyer up to 50% off the price of buying the books separately.

I’m sure you’re wondering why I price as I do. The short answer is that those prices are the most likely to result both in sales and meeting my needs as far as income. To be brutally honest, I’d rather price at my original pricing structure. I feel that the hard work I put into putting out a superior product deserves to be rewarded that way. However, book buyers are a persnickety lot, and would rather not pay more. You can bet your bippy, though, that if I ever did write a novel of 80,000 words or more, I’d be setting the price at $9.99!

One of the points brought up in the Facebook discussion I opened this journal entry with is that some books are 99 cents and seem long and some are more expensive and are just a few pages. Well, the pages thing I addressed in the past, for all the good it did me, and I have decided not to beat that dead horse any longer. What book buyers need to know is that Amazon makes us price books between $2.99 and $9.99 to get the highest royalty, which is 70%. I could make my shorter books 99 cents, but I would only get 35% royalty, which means 34 or 35 cents per sale. I’m not sure I could sell enough books at a dollar to earn any money at all.

There are also delivery charges taken out of my royalties, and those depend on the size of the file. So, in books with more “back matter”—contact information, author bio, etc.—the author is charged a higher delivery fee than those with less. I have, at times, put brief descriptions of my backlist books, and in one even put thumbnails of the covers, as part of my back matter, but I have largely stopped doing it. In general, in the last three or four books, I have simply had a list of books and a paragraph stating where they can be purchased. This reduces the delivery fee and gives me a bigger chunk of my 70% share.

Sometimes, authors will have sales, or will offer the first book in a series for 99 cents while keeping the rest at “regular price.” They call this a loss leader. They are hoping that you will pay that dollar for the first book, like it, and then buy the rest. Sort of an incentive to get you to try them. If you end up not liking it, you are only out a dollar (in Ohio, $1.06 with tax,) so it’s a win-win situation for the author and the book buyer.

What about Kindle Unlimited, you ask? Well, I’m not often in Kindle Unlimited. I prefer to be more widely available (all my eggs in one basket and all.) Authors get paid less than half a cent per page read. It really does not pay to be in KU unless you write long novels or have an entire series in a bundle. Plus, KU is where the whole screwy page numbers thing comes in, that I refuse to address again.

Anyway, that’s my take on pricing. I’d love to know what you think!

Come back next Wednesday for another peek into my journal! ❤

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