Saturday, September 15

Indie Books: What Price Is Right?

The Indie Writing And Pricing

Dean Wesley Smith addressed a question that has been on my mind: what effect will the recent settlements regarding agency pricing have on the cost of books? DWS says they're going to go up, perhaps way up.
Pricing for customers of electronic books will go up as this settles out over the next few years. Even with stores discounting some titles, ebook prices really can’t do anything else but go up.
Why are book prices going to increase?
... I am being scary simple and general here for the sake of keeping this short and understandable to those who don’t much care.

So now the government has come in and said to the big publishers, “No, no, no. You can’t all agree to do this at the same time.” So now the publishers are being forced to back up and allow retailers to discount what they want, as it always should have been.

In response to that, publishers are raising their “suggested retail prices” expecting retail stores to discount. Some retailers will, some will not.

Some books will be discounted, some won’t. And the amount of discounts by the retailers will vary from moment to moment and book to book and agreement to agreement.

All this is going to cause all kinds of very strange price benchmarks for books. Prices like $10.14 or $12.64 for electronic books. It’s going to have readers who are used to set and standard prices shaking their heads, that’s for sure.

And it’s going to make for some interesting shopping for book buyers, who now can shop around for the best deals. Again, as it always should have been in this capitalistic country.
So what should indie writers price their books at? Here's what DWS recommends:
- Front list, meaning brand new. Over 50,000 words. $7.99
- Shorter front list novels, meaning 30,000 to 50,000 words. $6.99
- Backlist novels, meaning already published by a traditional publisher. $6.99

Short Books
- Short books, meaning stories from 8,000 words to 30,000 words. $3.99

Short Stories
- Short stories … 4,000 to 8,000 words. $2.99
- Short stories under 4,000 double with another bonus story… $2.99

- 5 stories $4.99
- 10 stories $7.99
Dean also suggests, and I agree that this makes good sense, publishing a trade paper edition along with your ebook, even if you don't expect to sell many paper books. Why? Because it shows readers how much less expensive the ebook price is and makes them feel like they're getting a deal--which they are!

You can read the rest of Dean Wesley Smith's article here: The New World of Publishing: Pricing 2013

Other articles you might like:
- Stephen King: How His Novel "Carrie" Changed His Life
- How Do Writers Get Their Ideas? Neil Gaiman, Seth Godin & Stephen King
- Writing Resources
- Jim Butcher, Harry Dresden and the Dresden Files

Photo credit: See-ming Lee


  1. Thank you for this post Karen! Book pricing has been something at the top of my mind for the last two months ever since I launched my first novel. I spent 4 months reading about it beforehand and felt there was no right or wrong answer. I decided to price mine (paperback & ebook) at the 'higher' end of the market, with a view to seeing how sales would do. I felt it would be more logical to start high and drop the price than the other way around. I'm planning major price cuts in the next two months coming up to Christmas and will likely keep the price low thereafter. Dean's $7.99 for a novel >50K words is not that far from my current ebook price.

    AD Starrling

    1. Hi AD, good for you! I've noticed many indie authors are beginning to offer their books at the 7.99 price range and even higher. I saw one indie pricing their ebook at 9.99. Best of luck! :)


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