Self-publishing is still a relatively new thing when compared to other forms of entertainment. Things like traditional publishing, film, television and video games have all been around for over the last thirty years, and the models for creating and selling these art forms is pretty solidly established. Every so often it gets turned on its head, such as with relatively newer programs like Netflix or Hulu or YouTube, but overall, we know what to expect from a $5 movie, a $15 movie, and a $25 movie.
Self-publishing doesn't have those same established norms, at least not widespread enough that anybody browsing Amazon's digital library will know what to look for.
This book is priced at $0.99 and this one is priced at $5.99. They're both within my preferred genre of reading, so how do I know which is higher quality? Just because the $5.99 is longer, does that mean it's better? I could by the whole series of $0.99 books for the same price as the larger book, but are they as good?
Since authors and self-publishers set their own price, these sort of questions are valid when considering what to purchase in the digital marketplaces. And since the person putting the item up for sale is the one who determines the price of the work, there really is no set standard for digital pricing. You want your work to be fair and to sell, but you also want to turn a profit.
One thing to note is that on Amazon, anything priced below $2.99 only grants a 35% royalty to the author, while anything priced at $2.99 or above grants a 70% royalty. That's a big difference, and encourages authors to submit work worth the $2.99 price point (or at least to mark work at $2.99). This means that books priced at $1.99, while likely to sell better than some priced at $2.99, will only show a return of $0.69, while a $2.99 book will return of $1.04. That's a sizable difference, and really requires an author and self-publisher to consider all valid price points before submitting and finalizing work.
It's easy, as a consumer, to say things like "but Nick, you're doing what you love and you don't have to pay marketers, artists, and other production costs. Why shouldn't your books be a lot cheaper?"
The easiest answer to this is to say that they still require a lot of time and effort on my part to finish and publish. The second easiest answer is to say that if I want my books to sell, then yes, I do have to pay for things like marketing, cover design, editing, etc. So pricing becomes a concern once again: I want to price to sell, but I also want to at least break even on this book.
As such, I've decided that, for Kory Stories, all of my pricing models will be determined based on the length of the book. Since I am looking at producing a wider variety of book lengths, as opposed to my old style (100k words or more only), it is important to be up front with what the prices of these books will look like.
- Over 100k words: $5.99
- Between 80k and 100k words: $4.99
- Between 60k and 80k words: $3.99
- Between 40k and 60k words: $2.99
- Between 20k and 40k words: $1.99
- Under 20k words: $0.99
As easy as that. I will charge solely on the length of the book, and not based on the perceived quality, or how recent its publication was, or anything like that. I see this model as fair for both me the writer and producer, and you the potential customer.
But as always, I'm open to suggestions! Do these prices seem too low for you? Or too high? Let me know in the comments below!