posted on October 22, 2013 by Jaycie Cash

What’s Your Price?

ebookI have a friend who’s getting ready to try the great experiment . . . she’s going to self -publish an eBook or two.

Her question to me has been how much she should charge for it.

My answer has been a resounding “Uhhhhhh, I dunno.”

So I’ve come to you, dear Writerspace friends, to learn your thoughts.  What price do you think is appropriate for a well written and edited tale of suspense from a previously published author who has received some acclaim but—as yet—little fame?

Obviously, she doesn’t want to make it too costly, as that could keep some folks from buying.

By the same token, however, she doesn’t want to mark it so low that some readers automatically assume her novel isn’t very good. After all, some authors have experienced an upsurge in sales after raising the price of an eBook.

Naturally, there’ve also been others who’ve had the exact opposite happen.

That’s why I want to learn, from those of you with ereaders: what’s your sweet spot?

Is there a particular price you expect to pay for a self-published eBook?

Do you think digital books should be priced according to genre? If so, which would you expect to cost more and which would you assume to be less?

If you stumble across an eBook that’s offered for free, do you typically snatch it up? If so, are you more or less (or equally) likely to read it than another book on your ereader that cost you something to download?

The three most common prices for self-published eBooks currently seem to be 99 cents, $2.99 and $4.99. Of these three options, which amount do you most often pay?

How important is price when you decide whether you’re going to buy an eBook?

Is there a price you won’t go above? If so, what is it?

Any answers you can provide for the above questions will be greatly appreciated! By the same token, additional information that you think important enough to offer would be extremely helpful as well. One person who leaves a comment will be selected to receive a free copy of my debut novel, MRS. GOODFELLER.

57 thoughts on “What’s Your Price?”

  1. For the most part I look for cheap. I don’t have a lot of money and this way it is easier for me to get past my husband and purchase them. I have paid up to $7.99 for a book and 15.00 for a set. If I know the author I will tend to pay more but if it is a new to be author I check out their cheap books and then when I fall in love with them I will go back and by more.. as I did with Shyla Black and Mia Dymond. (hopefully I spelled their names right!)

    1. Avatar Jaycie Cash says:

      Thanks for the info, Lisa. I appreciate your thoughts!

  2. Avatar Tracy Gilpin says:

    First, I always snatch up those “free” ebooks that I see as long as it’s a story that interests me – it’s a way for me to explore new authors (and then keep a look out for other books by them). There will come a time in my life that I can read all the books I have downloaded. As for a price – not sure which ones I’ve bought have been self-published, but again, if the story is worthwhile, I’d pay $3.99 to $4.99. I’ve paid higher for some of my “must read” authors books. For me to read a new author, the “blurb” needs to peak my interest to make me willing to spend money. One thing your author friend could do is release a novella tied to the book for $.99 or free and then put an intro of the “full-sized” book at the end to entice me to buy the main story. I’ve discovered some new to me authors by the free novellas and will then be looking for/purchasing some of their other books. Price factors a bit in my decision as to whether to purchase a book by a new to me author, but if the book sounds really intriguing, I’d spend money on it.

    1. Avatar Jaycie Cash says:

      This is all important info for my friend to know, Tracy. Thanks so much for providing it!

  3. Avatar Nancy H says:

    Alot of things effect how much I spend. 1. Do I know the authors work and do I like them? 2. If I don’t know about an author and can try for free I get the book. I’ve found a lot of awesome authors this way. 3. If I like the first one, I usually get another. I’m on a budget so an unknown I will not spend more than 2.99. Even authors I love I find it hard to spend to much. Try to get them on sale. 4. The length of the book is another factor. If I spend over $5. I want a full length 300 pages or more. This is just my feeling. Good luck on the book.

    1. Avatar Jaycie Cash says:

      Your approach to book buying makes perfect sense to me, Nancy. Thanks so much for sharing it!

  4. Avatar Zita R says:

    I expect to pay between $0.99 and $2.99 for a self-published eBook.
    No, I do not think digital books should be priced according to genre.
    If I stumble upon an eBook that’s offered for free, I will read the blurb and the reviews. If I like the blurb and the reviews are decent I will snatch it up and get to it when I have a chance. Books that I have wanted to read would be ahead of it on my TBR.
    Most often pay $2.99 for an eBook.
    Price is important. I have authors that I love whose eBooks are overpriced (not self-published) so I wait for them to go on sale before I buy them.
    The price I won’t go above depends on the author, known authors that I love I will sometimes pay a higher amount for. For unknown authors I will not go above $2.99 and only if the majority of the reviews are good. Will not take a chance on an unknown self-published author anymore without reviews, been burned too many times. Need to know the writing is good and has been well edited before publication.

    1. Avatar Jaycie Cash says:

      Zita, so appreciate you specifying the amount you expect to pay, that’s very important for my friend and me to know. Thanks!

  5. Avatar Kris says:

    If the story interests me, a free ebook by an author I don’t know is just as likely to be read immediately as one by an author I know. In fact, getting a free or very low cost ebook has by a new author has often springboarded me into purchasing more pricy ebooks by that same author. I must admit though – it really irks me to pay the same or more for an ebook as for a hard copy of the same title. This is where I think the publishing industry is crippling itself.

    I think $2.99-$4.99 is a fair price for most ebook versions of a paperback, or ebook only titles. A newer author should probably start on the lower end of that scale, while an author who has been published repeatedly in hard copy can charge a bit more if s/he feels the market could bear it. Make sure the quality of the editing is there though – there is nothing more annoying than a book full of typos, grammatical errors and sentences that don’t make sense.

    And, to be honest – as I am looking to go from a Nook to a Kindle – the whole topic of not being able to convert an ebook I have bought for one eReader so that I can use it on the next eReader REALLY, REALLY, REALLY makes me mad.

    1. Avatar Jaycie Cash says:

      Kris, I’ve never had a Nook, but other than that you and I have very similar approaches to book buying. Thanks so much for providing your input. I, and my friend, really appreciate your time and effort!

  6. Avatar Gerd Duerner says:

    “Is there a particular price you expect to pay for a self-published eBook?”
    I wouldn’t say that there’s strictly a price I expect, but it should be less than I have to pay for a dead tree version or else I will go for that if I really want the novel in question.

    “Do you think digital books should be priced according to genre? If so, which would you expect to cost more and which would you assume to be less?”
    That sounds like there are more and less valuable genres, which I don’t believe, although each reader certainly has his or her favourite where they are willing to go for higher prices than with others – I sometimes do think it would be possibly fairer if YA/MG/Children’s titles were lower in price than adult books, so that the target audience could actually easily afford them, but that would mean to undervalue the work authors do in those fields.

    “If you stumble across an eBook that’s offered for free, do you typically snatch it up? If so, are you more or less (or equally) likely to read it than another book on your ereader that cost you something to download?”
    If it’s in my genre spot (i.e. all things werewolves) usually yes, else, if the title or cover draws me in, if I heard of the author before or the book synopsis appeals to me. But I must admit that I read only about 10%-20% of the free books I download.

    “The three most common prices for self-published eBooks currently seem to be 99 cents, $2.99 and $4.99. Of these three options, which amount do you most often pay?”
    I’m usually closer to the -.99, 2.99 and more in seldom cases, those are author exceptions where I already know that I’m going to like the book.

    “How important is price when you decide whether you’re going to buy an eBook?”
    Very, I’d say
    “Is there a price you won’t go above? If so, what is it?”
    More than four dollars are unlikely to be paid by me, for there we enter in the region of print book prices.

    Additional thoughts/explanation:
    The usual for me when looking at eBooks is to judge the cover – really, shoddy covers more often than not hold shoddy writing, the second is scanning the first page, if the writing can’t draw me in on the first couple paragraphs (or worse it opens up with typos/misspellings or grammatical errors) it won’t bother further unless it really comes with a recommendation from a readers blog I trust. That’s not always fair to the writer I’m afraid but (reading) time is precious.

    1. Avatar Jaycie Cash says:

      Gerd, Wow! Can’t thank you enough for taking the time to provide so much terrific info. Thanks very, very much!

  7. I have my four books on at 2.99. but am planning on doing .99 promotions of each soon. I think 4.99 and under for prices. If you take 70% you can’t go under 2.99 at KDP. But at 35% you can go less, plus you can do free promotions.

    1. Avatar Jaycie Cash says:

      Hey Pamela, it’s great to hear from a fellow author. Thanks so much for chiming in and best of luck with your upcoming promotions. I’ll be looking for, and purchasing, your books!

  8. Avatar Denise says:

    Like Tracy, I really go for the freebies and have found both treasures and junk. Now I have no problem deleting a book that I don’t like, even if I paid for it. Over 3 years, I have spent about $75 on books, ranging from free to $16.00 (The $16 book was based on recommendations from coworkers and was deleted by Chapter 2 – found out that I’m not into vampires or werewolves in an alternate universe). A lot depends on how much the story line interests me. Maybe this new author could make it free for a day just to get her name out there and may garner up some nice reader reviews?

    1. Avatar Jaycie Cash says:

      Good suggestion, Denise, I’ll pass it on. Thanks so much for making the time and effort to provide it. Here’s hoping all your future purchases are right up your reading alley!

  9. Avatar Juanita Rice says:

    I read romances (western, contemporary, erotica, some paranormal) and most always grade them by the quality of writing. Free or .99 may entice me to look at them, but it’s the writing that will hook me. I think between $2.99 and $4.99 is a fair price for most e-books. But…I have three or four favorite authors whose mass market paperbacks grace my book baskets and will continue to do so. When the books are that good I will pay the extra to display them. 😉 They are also easier to share with those who don’t have readers.

    1. Avatar Jaycie says:

      I hear what you’re saying about sharing books, Juanita. Friends and I have an old tradition of doing the same. Thanks for all the info!

  10. Avatar Tammy says:

    For an author I am not familiar with free to .99 cents….if they hook me and have a series, it does not mater how much the next book is as long as I have enough in my checking account. That said My “faves” I still buy in paper. I had paid up to $4.99 for an ebook and as I generally read a book a day…..prefer $2.99 and under. I have discovered some great new writers in the free sections and have purchased their next books in the series and look at other books they write. I suggest if your friend is new and wants to seriosuly get “out there” go free for a day and hope the reviews interest others. I do read reviews.

    1. Avatar Jaycie says:

      Sound advice, Tammy. Thanks for making it! Happy reading!!

  11. Avatar Michelle says:

    For new authors, I expect to pay up to $2.99 for a novel-length ebook. Even then, I wait until the book goes on “sale” for $0.99. If it is an author I know and LOVE, I have been known to pay over $10.00 for the ebook, but these are VERY few.

    I have discovered good books between $0.99 to $1.99, but I know authors do not make a large profit in this price range. I also know new indie authors that have placed their books on BookBub with great results.

    1. Avatar Jaycie says:

      Michelle, Thanks so much for letting me know about your price expectations. You’re knowledgeable (and oh, so correct) about author profits. Appreciate the BookBub info, too . . . along with your interest and support!

  12. I like to read science fiction, fantasy, and horror. I am interested in reading new authors, but I dislike those that are self published. I recently bought A Dance Of Cloaks by David Dalglish. That book was self published a few years, but has now been picked up by Orbit Books, a real publisher.

    I would initially price the book at $4.99. If that doesn’t work, you can then lower the price.

    1. Avatar Jaycie says:

      Thanks for the suggestion, kingofthe7seas. I’ll pass it on.

  13. Avatar ervy lynette says:

    I think that when self publish a ebook 2.99 & 4.99 are good starts then check your stats then increase the price

    1. Avatar Jaycie says:

      Makes sense to me, Ervy Lynette. Thanks for joining the conversation!

  14. Avatar Sarah says:

    I usually pay 99 cents to $2.99 for new authors. I also enjoy it when new authors go over to Goodreads and offer fee books for honest reviews. That shows me that they are serious about getting their names out that and they really want people to read their books and get their names out there. I have found a number of excellent new authors who have done this and I have become very loyal to them after getting a “taste” of their style with no risk to me.

    1. Avatar Jaycie says:

      Hey Sarah, Good to know and nice suggestion regarding Goodreads. For some reason I had it in my head they only took print giveaways. I’ll check them out and suggest my friend do the same. Thanks!

  15. Avatar Michelle says:

    I do not spend over 12.00 for an eBook. Any more I wait and buy at the store

    1. Avatar Jaycie says:

      Michelle, Don’t blame you a bit for the $12 limit. Very sensible. Thanks for letting me know.

  16. Avatar sultryvoice says:

    I think an ebook should cost between $2.99 and $6.99, but no more than $9.99 no matter what the genre is. Once the story entices the customers/readers we will buy no matter the cost. What we don’t like is when the author cuts up the book into pieces or separate the chapters and try to sell them to their customers for extra cash. I think that is demeaning to both the author and the customer. Honestly, I think a first self publish book should be free, so that customers/readers can get to know the author and thereafter the price for the book can cost a fair and reasonable price. I despise authors who want their ebooks to cost more than a paperback. Do you know how many trees had to die to make leave for a paperback, and not one for an ebook. I normal snatch up the free ebooks before a actually buy a priced ebook. If I like the free I go looking for more of the author’s books whether they be priced or not. Some authors can be ridiculous, in that a paperback cost $7.89 and they want to sell the same book in eformat for twice the amount if not more. Ebooks should definitely cost less. If they use a computer to type and edit the manuscript, then it should be easy to add all the other features to make it look like a book and upload it to where they want to sell it. I definitely know, that genre does not matter only the price and the content of the book. I wish this author the best of luck in publishing her book. And she should try asking persons involve in online book clubs to read and comment on her books to give her an idea as to what they are looking for and where her story is going.

    1. Avatar Jaycie says:

      Good info and advice, Sultryvoice. Thanks so much for taking the time to make it! Are there specific book clubs you recommend checking with? Thanks again for your interest and support!

  17. I like a free book on an author that I have not read. There are about 6 authors that I read all the time, but I have to find new authors beca use I have read all the others. I have paid up to 9.99 for an e-book but it depends on the author. One that I not read before I will only pay about 2.99. I can only spend so much. If I like the author that I got free I will buy the next book.

    1. Avatar Jaycie says:

      Jeferguson, All this pricing info is very good to know. Really appreciate you telling us!

  18. Avatar Lisa says:

    For an author I don’t know I wound pay .99 to 1.99. If I have a recommendation from someone I know or I really like the excerpt I read, my max would probably be $3.99.

    1. Avatar Jaycie says:

      Gotcha, Lisa! Thanks so much for letting me know!

  19. I always read the reviews. I usually eliminate the worst review and the best review, then decide on buying based on the rest and the synopsis. A badly edited or book with grammatical errors will NOT get on my ereader for more than 10 pages(medium print). I usually buy unknown authors at $1.99 and assume that the 99 centers are awful. I really like getting a sample for free before deciding to buy. The most I have spent for an e book is $14.99 and that was for an author I am very familiar with and for a just published book. Once a book has been “out’ for more than a month the price should go down. The ebook price should never be more (or even teh same) as the paperback edition.

    1. Avatar Jaycie says:

      Becky, Somehow my response to your comment got separated and ended up below. Please find it there. Thanks again for sharing!

  20. Avatar Alexandria Vandiver says:

    Self published or backed by a publishing company doesn’t matter. The cost of an ebook should not rise above S10.00, that’s how ereaders became so popular in the first place. But more than anything else a good story is important. Good luck to your friend.

    1. Avatar Jaycie says:

      Hey Alexandria, Thanks for your good wishes and open-minded approach to self published authors! Appreciate you responding to my post.

  21. Avatar Jaycie says:

    Hey Becky,
    What a well ordered and sensible approach! Do you have a teaching background? The idea of throwing out the lowest and highest scores reminds me of grading on the curve (don’t know if schools still do that). I sooooo agree with you regarding editing and grammar. Thanks very much for the info, I truly appreciate it!

  22. Avatar Tina Carlson says:

    I like buying the .99 to 1.99 books, I have gotten some that are very good, and than will pay higher for the next book that comes out…. I have gotten to know alot new authers this way, I will pay up to 10:00 for a book, cause at the store for a non hardback is around 5:00 -7:00 dollars, 🙂

    1. Avatar Jaycie says:

      You make an excellent point about ways for authors use price to intro themselves to new readers, Tina. Thanks for sharing!

  23. Avatar pwall55 says:

    I don’t always look for cheapest. I will buy a higher price book if it’s an author I really like. I will try those who have a special deal every now and then or have a free day on line for the first book in a series. Once hooked I’ll paid up to 7.99 for a favorite author.

    1. Avatar Jaycie says:

      You sound like me, pwall55, always looking for some wonderful new author to read. There’s no such thing as too many great authors on your shelf or in you ereader, is there! Appreciate the info!

  24. Avatar Vicki H says:

    I am cheap. I go for the 99 cents which is easy because books go on sale for that ALL the time. I have a ton of free books and have read quite a few of them. In fact have books I got for free way back when that ended up as NY Times best sellers. More than anything I look at reviews and the blurb. I do not like paying more that a couple of bucks, although I have. When I can get a really decent book for free or a buck.

    1. Avatar Jaycie says:

      You’re not cheap, Vicki, just thrifty and there’s nothing wrong with that. Thanks for giving us more info to ponder. My friend and I appreciate it!

  25. Like other comments above when it comes to my e-reader I check out the free books first by a new author then go onto paying for more. I have some books that authors made free from their series sometimes it’s book 2 or 3 in the series and if they are good I will be glad to purchase the others in the series ranging in price from $3.99 to $5.99. All of us readers love freebies and if they are good enough to get us hooked we will spread the word especially if the author gives us a way to do so. Some of my new fav authors released free novellas that tied into their books. I have one fav that is publish her book in increments or parts. Her first part was free but each of the others cost 99 cents or you can get the whole book for $6.99. Just what I have seen and what I like. May she experience great success with this endeavor!

    1. Avatar Jaycie says:

      You sound like a good hearted fan to me, Meleeta! Thanks for commenting and telling us your approach.

  26. I buy books that captures you and makes you apart of it. My suggestion is do all the sites that sell Ebola at $4.99 if you put a sample with it there should not be a problem. I always have a book with me no matter where I am I will pay the price to read.

  27. Avatar Jaycie says:

    Hey Ellar, When you mention Ebola are you talking about the 1995 book by Dr. William Close? I haven’t been able to find another one. If you’re able to clarify, I’d appreciate it.
    Like you I always have a book with me (or my e-reader). sure makes waiting easier, doesn’t it! Thanks for responding.

  28. Avatar Janice Gould says:

    I first go for the freebies in the genre I prefer, contemporaries, and then the $ 0.99 books and up to $ 2.99. I will do $ 3.99 and up if a favorite author and series…

    Sometimes an author will give a book free to get you into her books or series and that is a great way to go. After the initial freebie they run $ 0.99, $ 2.99 or $ 3.99.
    There are very few authors where I will buy an e-book over the $ 3.99.

    If I see a book I might be interested in, I check into the info on it. How many pages are very important to me, as I am not going to pay even $0.99 for a book of 50 pages.

    I first go for the freebies in the genre I prefer, contemporaries, and then the $ 0.99 books and up to $ 2.99. I will do $ 3.99 and up if a favorite author and series…

    Sometimes an author will give a book free to get you into her books or series and that is a great way to go. After the initial freebie they run $ 0.99, $ 2.99 or $ 3.99.
    There are very few authors where I will buy an e-book over the $ 3.99.

    If I see a book I might be interested in, I check into the info on it. How many pages are very important to me, as I am not going to pay even $0.99 for a book of 50 pages.

    1. Lots of interesting and helpful information there, Janice. Thanks so much for sharing it!

  29. Avatar Charlene says:

    It depends a number of things. But e-books are usually cheaper than print books so I try a lot of new authors.

    A free read is an easy lure for me if I like the blurb, and it can often lead to further purchases of the author’s books.

    One of the absolutes when it comes to price is length of the book-I can’t stand paying more than $3.00 for something less than 200 pages.

    Covers aren’t as important-I still love hunky guys on them, but I read the blurb and check out customer reviews and samples. (On the subject of samples…nothing irritates me more than a sample that shows the cover, copyright, dedications, etc and only 2 or 3 pages! I’ve read a number of e-publishing guides, and they point out how not to annoy readers with these samples.)

    I use “Goodreads” consistently because I can get a greater number of ratings and reviews for books. It posts future books with their anticipated publication dates so I can keep track of them, and the site has a “Want To Read” function I go to when I’m between favorite author books. I’ve found new authors to try on the “bookshelves” of reader/reviewers (5 recently), and I like finding author information there. (One of my favorites authors, Elle Aycart, is there as an author and a reader so I get to see what she likes to read!)

    Do I know the author? I’m always willing to spend more on their books, but, on average, I usually spend between $4 to $6 on a 250-400 page romance or mystery e-book and up to $20 for a multi-book set. I don’t like to pay more than $10 for any book although, on rare occasions, I have spent more.

    1. Wow Charlene, Lots of great, great info there. Really appreciate you adding in thoughts and info on covers, Goodreads, etc. I so appreciate your time and effort! Thanks!!!!

  30. Avatar Rhyan says:

    for short fiction .99 cents Novellas 1.99 for new authors and up to 2.99 for established authors and 3.99 to 4.99 for a full length book. the better known the author the more I am willing to spend. If its an author on the B&N or Times bestseller lists then I will pay more if I am fallowing the series.

    1. That’s a very sensible and organized approach, Rhyan. Thanks for telling us about it. Appreciate it!

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