Pricing Indie Books

Old Typewriter

photo by Petr Kratochvil

I decided to stay home sick today.  Sick days are more fun- when you’re not sick.  Anyway.  I was surfing the web and finishing up Draft2digital for the first time, and I thought about pricing.

I’ve been trying to get Amazon to make my first short story free.  It hasn’t happened yet.  The thought was, it’s only a short story and it’s the first of three shorts in a Christmas Series, I hope to have them all out by Thanksgiving.  But the first one I really want to be free.  The next two will be inexpensive, dare I say cheap.

Short Stories:

I am new to self-publishing and to reading online.  I just got my first Kindle last month.  In that time I have downloaded a number of free books, a few novels I paid less than $9 for, and several short stories that were either free or $.99.  Judging from what I’ve read and my own practices, $.99 isn’t bad for a short story.  I’ve read indie writers and established traditional writers who have published shorts for $.99.  I think that’s a fair price for full story to escape reality.  It’s also a great way to find a new author I may not have read yet.


I haven’t self-published a novel, so I am speaking only as a reader at this point.  I have written one and know the work that goes into it.  I respect that, but I am being honest when I say, “I will not buy an e-book that costs over $9.”  Not going to happen.  At that price, I will find a paper copy.  I usually don’t shell out that kind of money for author’s I have never read before.  I know, I’m a writer, I should be more willing to take the risk.  But I’m not.  I have 2 children and a part time/full time job and bills to pay.  If I was wealthy, my library would look more like the Library of Congress.  As it is, I have limited funds and have to be careful on what I spend them on.  The last time I paid hardback prices for an author I had never read was, Veronica Roth and Divergent.  And look where that got me. Ended up rushing out and buying all of the books, in hardback, because I couldn’t wait for paperback or the library to get them back in. (sigh!)

That crazy little rant above guides me when I think about how my books should be priced, the ones I have written and have yet to write.  I think most readers will give a new writer a chance if the first book is free (absolutely, let me download now) or under $4.  The short time I’ve had my Kindle, I have found some great Indie writers as well as a few turkeys.  Of course, the same can be said for traditional writers.  I was very disappointed by one I just read and I’ve read many of his books in the past.  On the other hand, I just paid a whopping $9 for a book, pre-order, it’s the last in a series and I’ve read them all.  I would have bought the hardback regardless! I think the cold medicine has kicked in, I see stars 😦

As writer’s we know the amount of time and effort that has gone into our books and we want them to be taken seriously, and bought.  From other endeavors, I have learned people rarely pay what an item is actually worth.  Books aren’t paid for the amount of hours the writer spent on it.  Thank goodness.  Some have taken decades to come to print.  There’s a fine line that must be walked in pricing.  What the writer thinks the book is worth and what the reader thinks the book is worth.  I think I remember an economics class about this. That line varies from writer to writer.   There’s a good article on pricing at Publishers Weekly.

In the end I think we have to go with our gut.  I know I’m not going to make a fortune writing.  Seriously, I just want to stay out of teaching.  I want to write, share my stories, and hopefully make a few friends along the way.  I think it’s time for my nap.

How did you decide how to price your book?




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