How much should I charge for my books?

That’s actually a surprisingly complex question. If you check Amazon you’ll find that most books fall into one of three categories: somewhere around $9.99, $2.99, and $0.99 cents.

If you’re a formally published dude or dudette then you will probably have your eBook for sale at $9.99. Unfortunately for you, you’ll only be getting about 15% commission of each sale, so about $1.50. This price is set by your publishing house, and you will have no control over it. Now, an indie author is allowed to charge up to $200 for an eBook, but they usually opt for the other two brackets. Why is that?

Because there’s a feeling that readers won’t yet spill cash for formally published prices in order to buy an indie published novel. If you’re self-published you’re not vetted by the professionals, and thus must sidle into the market with low prices and promises of excellent content.

Now, should you go $2.99 or $0.99? You get 70% of the first, about $2, and only 35% of the second, or about $0.34. The obvious choice is to thus go for $2.99. It shows that you have faith in your novel, it allows you to make six times as much for each purchase, and really isn’t that much.

However, think on this: John Locke was the first self published author to sell more than a million copies, and none of his books are priced at higher than $0.99.

So what’s the logic there? $0.99 is such a low commitment on the part of the reader that they’re liable to snap your novel up without even thinking about. You get paid less, but you get more readers. You get more readers, you amplify the word of mouth effect. While one $2.99 sale nets you six times the income of a $0.99 sale, you might be able to attract 12 buyers willing to shell out 99cents in the place of that one $2.99 person.

So how much should I charge for my books?

Thus far I’ve been charging $2.99, and seen a steady increase in sales each month. But I don’t want linear growth, I want exponential growth, which is why I’ve dropped the prices for THE GRIND SHOW and CRUDE SUNLIGHT to $0.99 cents. I’m going to keep them there for the rest of October, and see what happens.

And there you have one of the true if subtle beauties of being self-published: complete autonomy and the ability to modify and change elements of your novel on the fly to find the sweet spot to maximize sales.

SO. What do you guys think? 99 cents or $2.99? Have you actually purchased an eBook yet, and did the price affect your decision? I’ll report back at the end of October to let you know how my experiment goes, but chime in and let me hear your thoughts!