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Image by Thom Watson The blog is called

Image by Thom Watson
The blog is called “Piles of Pages” for a reason. it’s all I can see from my office chair. So much paperwork…

Now here’s a topic I feel I have a little insider knowledge on. I don’t believe I’ve mentioned this before, but as a day job I work as a ‘business analyst’ for a large multinational corporation and let me tell you, careful pricing really makes the world go around here. But for indie authors who are just putting their first product on the market, pricing up their book sometimes comes as an afterthought and that is a very dangerous situation. You want to make money from your work, right? But it won’t happen if you just slap on the first price tag that comes to mind.

I should probably start with the disclaimer that not all authors actually do want to make money – some will be happy to just have their work read and enjoyed and if you fall into this category, this article is obviously not relevant to you. It’s perfectly reasonable to want to share your work for free, and how kind of you to do so! I will cover sharing platforms in a later article but first, back to pricing.

Even though I claim to have experience on this front, I can’t just tell you what the price of your book should be because it is going to depend on your genre, your demographic, the length of your book etc. Even if your readers love you, a teen may not be able to afford a big price tag for your awesome YA thriller and even a diehard fan may not want to pay through the nose for your work if they get through five books a week. There are so many factors at work that it will be almost impossible to get the price right on your first try and after some time has passed, you will likely need to do more revisions anyway. My advice is to start at a price which is average for books similar to yours and then make tweaks as you monitor your sales. And how do you know what tweaks to make? Here are some signs to look out for…

Signs that you’re pricing too low

Many indie authors swear by the virtues of the 99pence/cents ebook and that’s a topic

If the book hoarders had to find a place in their house for all of their 99p impulse buys, I'm sure they would choose more carefully. Thank goodness for ebooks. -Image by anchylosaurus

Thank goodness for ebooks, they keep my house structurally sound.
-Image by anchylosaurus

I’ll definitely look at in the future. But in short, pricing your work this low can work well as a loss-leader; it’s a sacrifice you make to get people interested in your other work. But it does come with a risk. At such a low price, you may also attract what I call ‘book hoarders’. These are the sorts of customers who stock up on heaps of 99p books which they never actually get around to reading. Sure, they’ve thrown 99p your way but it didn’t serve the purpose of directing people to your more premium items. If you see your 99p item selling well, but are receiving few reviews and little change to the sales of your other items, it may be that this strategy isn’t working for you. Consider trying something different.

Some authors will even offer one book for free as another loss-leader strategy. This will have an even higher chance of being read but beware of devaluing your work. There’s plenty of quality fiction online for free so if you are trying to attract the sort of customers who are willing to shell-out cash, this may not be the way to go.

Signs that you’re pricing too high

The obvious clue here would be if you simply weren’t selling any books – but take care. If you have raised the price of your work and you see your sales drop, don’t rush to make it cheap again. Instead, calculate the total amount of money you are making over any given period and you may actually find that you are making more money with fewer sales. After all, it would seem better to sell one £1,000 book than a hundred 99p books.

That said, if your sales drop very low, even if you are making more money, it means that you are reaching fewer people and so your long-term prospects are worse. You will want the price to be low enough that a respectable number of people are developing an interest in your work, but high enough that you are making a respectable amount of money. This is where it gets more subjective as you will ultimately have to decide if you want more cash now, or a larger audience later.

I hope you enjoyed this article. If so, please click like and follow and join me again next week when I will be talking about establishing the rules of your fantasy and sci-fi settings.