20 December 2011

Price Points: Finding The Sweet Spot

I recently did a little experiment with the pricing of my novel (looking for that sweet spot). I'd love to hear your thoughts on pricing, too, and your own experiences, as buyers and sellers.

My Brief experiment:

You know, I've never been able to bring myself to buy a .99 cent book (unless it was from a friend, or from the second hand shops). I believe, rightly or wrongly, that things have a certain value. The idea of paying $5 for a novel seems like a real nifty bargain to me. But $36 for a hardcover? You crazy!

As for .99? You crazy, too. (yikes! don't jump down my throat yet. This is how I feel as a buyer, not a seller or publisher - we'll get to the seller-thoughts in a second).

As a buyer, when I look at .99, that price point screams, "I was too cheap to spring for an editor, or, "my book really isn't very good."

I believe, you get what you pay for, too, so it's just hard for me to believe that a .99 cent novel is worth my time. I also know that, what I think, doesn't really matter much in the grand scheme of things. Clearly, lots of people like to buy .99 novels, otherwise John Locke wouldn't have sold over a million of his novels, all at .99.

I'm also not one to say, 'never'. So, yesterday afternoon, without fan-fair or publicity, I dropped the price of my book to, yes, .99 cents.

Now, don't rush off to grab my new 'bargain' book. It's already back up to it's xmas sale price of $2.99 (still crazy cheap). Actually, yes, do rush off and grab it - then hurry back.

I admit to being curious about this low, low price. Clearly other people are comfortable with it. Perhaps I was missing out on something. So, I went and dropped the price, curious to see if I'd notice any sales spikes.

Well, I did see a change in my sales. I sold...none.

The nice thing about being self-published is that I can do stuff like that. When I first put the book out, I had it listed at $4.95. A good price, I thought. Sales for the first week were reasonable, respectable. During that time I came across some sales data on eBooks. Seems, according to the data, that between $3 and $4 is the ideal price for an eBook (the price-point that encourages sales and gives the optimum return to the seller). After reading the article, I dropped my price from $4.95 to $3.95. Right away, and for the following week, my sales doubled. Coincidence? Who knows.

One week later, I dropped the price again to $2.99. I figured, as long as I saw a similar spike, then it would be worth it. But I didn't. Sales stayed steady at that price point (I actually sold a few less copies, but not enough to seem significant).

Which brings us to yesterday's experiment. For twenty-four hours, I dropped my book to .99, and for twenty-four hours, I didn't sell a single book. This could still all be coincidence. I freely admit this.

This was just an experiment. I was curious.

I think I was also, in a weird way, relieved. Let's face it. The world is in a race to the bottom. Everyone's bending over backwards to undercut each other, hoping for a leg up on the competition. If my sales had spiked, I might have been tempted to keep the price there (which also means I'd be giving most of the proceeds over to Amazon, which makes little sense).

So, for the moment, I'm back at $2.99. I'll keep it there until the New Year, and then I'll bump it back to $3.95

I'd really love to hear from you, though, and find out your own thoughts on price.


  1. Well....I am guilty of pricing my books at 99p (or 99c). However, as my books are so far short stories I can't really justify charging more than that for stories that are less than 15,000 words. Plus, I wouldn't pay more than 99p for a book that long myself.

    Saying that, I understand why some people just can't price their books that low. And when my first full-length novel comes out in March, I'll definitely be pricing it at around £2.99.

    I think pricing can drive people insane. I think different prices work for different authors. If you're happy selling your work for 99p, that's cool. If you're selling books for £2.99 or more then hey, it's your product, you can charge what you want for it.

    I made my first book free when I first published in Aug of this year and over 1000 people 'bought' it. Since charging a small price for my books, I'm not getting that amount of sales but I'm making steady progress, so I'm happy. :)

  2. Short stories make perfect sense to me at that price. To me, short stories are the 'singles', and novels are the LP's.

  3. Looking at sales for a 24-hour period really doesn't give a good indicator. Myself, I'd read several recent tales of price points (sounds like the same ones you've read), and thought maybe I was losing out on some revenue, so upped the price of my 99-cent novella to $2.99 for a few weeks. No sales. So, now it's back down to 99 cents.

    I'm going to give my novel THE CURE a few more weeks at its $3.99 price point, and we'll see how things go.