Whenever authors want to talk about pricing issues, extremes seem to pop up! Some people think you need to be at 99cents to move books. Or free! If all you want is to make a list or get a best seller tag on your name...I guess.
But this discussion isn't just about extremes. Price points matter in selling items. Many epubs have adjusted their pricing as competition grew and self pub added some pressure.
Sterling New Year is about 28k and priced at 3.99. This book did very well (for me, it's all relative)....
The next book was more like 35k (readers say they like longer books and this one had more to it) but it crossed a price level with the publisher and is 4.99. For a novella, that seems to be too much.
What did I learn? My novellas will be under 30k for this publisher going forward to maximize sales.
Pricing can be this sensitive for readers. They only have so much money and when you can buy full length novels for $4.99...believe me, I understand! Readers have tons of choices but one budget.
Some self pub authors do discount too aggressively. Full length novels for 99 cents or 2.99 permanently? That is devaluing the work. Now, a flash sale or book 4 in the series is out and you do a sale on book 1 for a week...sure.
Before self pub was a big thing, epubs could easily keep an eye on each others pricing levels relative to word count. They didn't stay lock step, that's for sure. Some are much higher than other epubs and now they're feeling that as readers and authors comment. But with so many self pubs wanting to see sales/ success--they are more willing to try anything for results.
For the record, I'm not against free reads. If you put up a short story or two for free, people can try it--that's not bad. But don't make every book free...
Plenty of well known musicians have videos up for free on youtube.com...so you can basically enjoy the song FREE. If you go to itunes to download it into your ipod/iphone etc...it's not free. So there is some good precedence for a free sample.
Or even doing a free code to giveaway for a book at a conference that's good for a few weeks but it's not free for EVERYONE all the time. Specials and sales are enticing.
The pricing strategy continues to evolve and the smart move is to pay attention to sales/reviews and what's changed (like my price point example above). ALSO avoid extremes. Holding your price high because of history or because you're worth more (when the market is at another point) only hurts you.
Going cheap might look like it's working but are you more likely to buy a book that is 4.99 on sale for 2.99? Or a book that is always 2.99? People like sales! If you're always cheap or free, then they'll expect it.
1-If you're with publishing houses....know the price levels and how they relate to the word count. It can hurt you to jump up $1 because of a few thousand words (That's from personal experience!).
2-If you're self pub, price fairly and put books on sale for a limited time rather than price cheaply. Have a reason for the sale as well. A new release in that series is fine. But don't do constant sales or or it'll be expected...
Writing is hard work and we need to earn a living at it...but ignoring the current market and going too high or too low isn't in your best interest.