Posted on 01/25/2015 at 12:00 AM by Jeffrey Bruner

An ongoing series of posts about results of our survey of 1,200 Fussy Librarian subscribers.

Thanks to everyone who helped spread the word about the reader survey. More than 1,200 people responded, which exceeded my hopes. Lots of great data that I'll discuss over the next few weeks. 

Let's look at the one area that every author agonizes over — pricing.

Also known as: Are ebook readers cheap moochers who don't care if I eat ramen noodles for the rest of my life or are they willing to pay a reasonable price for this book that consumed two years and caused my children to resent me?

Question: What do you think is a fair price for a full novel in ebook format, that pays an author well, but remains affordable?

  • All ebooks should be free: 6 percent

  • 99 cents: 8.7 percent

  • $1.99: 11.8 percent

  • $2.99: 16.5 percent

  • $3.99:  20.6 percent

  • $4.99: 18 percent

  • $5.99: 11.6 percent

  • More than $5.99: 6.4 percent

Now, I think it's a mistake to look at this data and conclude, "Great, there are people willing to pay $4.99 and $5.99 for my book." You've written off 64% of readers if you do that.

And that's not counting people who are turned off by the book synopsis or the cover ... or maybe they see one of the "also-boughts" on your book's page and buy that book instead. (It happens. I see it every day.)

You must maximize the potential pool of buyers for your book and that means 99 cents - $1.99 - $2.99. You also need to create urgency by discounting the book, preferably 50% or more.

If you sell at regular price, many readers will think, "I can buy this anytime at this price." And they defer the purchase and, then, forget about it altogether.

I also asked the question, "What's the most you ever paid for an ebook for an author new to you?" More than 36% answered $5.99 or more.

But don't get seduced by the Sirens! Again, there's two-thirds of the market you've kissed goodbye.

Also, "an author new to you" likely means that New York Times bestseller that was adapted for a movie that starred Reese Witherspoon.

Once you've sold a million copies, go ahead and sell at $5.99. Until then, be smart and sell at price points that appeal to the vast majority of readers.

Question: What's the most you ever paid for an ebook for an author new to you?

  • I only download free books: 9.4 percent

  • 99 cents: 8.7 percent

  • $1.99: 9.8 percent

  • $2.99: 14 percent

  • $3.99: 12.7 percent

  • $4.99: 10.5 percent

  • $5.99: 7.2 percent

  • $5.99+ : 27.2 percent

There's much more to come from the survey, including what you should price books 125 pages or fewer. (Spoiler alert: Free or 99 cents.)

Other installments in this series

Readers and free books

All about that blurb

What will readers pay for shorter ebooks?

Why do readers stop reading?

Categories: Pricing, Reader survey

I have to disagree with the last part. I was testing out different theories regarding the right price, and I used different strategies for several pen names that I have. There were some variations from time to time, but this is what I found works best I was never into selling my novels for $0.99, because I think it's important to value your own work. And it works for me, I make a lot more money than before.
Katarina | 05/24/2018 at 02:32 AM
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