You’ve finally done it: you’ve finished that book you’ve been wanting to write for years, and it’s officially ready to go on the market. Or, maybe your book is already on the market but you’re not seeing the sales needle move as much as you had hoped.
It’s time to take a look at the overall book as well as your pricing strategy. By seeing how your book and its price measures up, you can get a realistic picture of what needs to happen next.
Does Your Book Stack Up?
Before we begin to tackle pricing, we should also consider your book and ask yourself a few important questions.
First, do you realistically have an audience? This is critical. And if you haven’t researched your potential market, and are relying on “a good feeling about this one,” stop and do some research.
Second, have you sought professional help? By this I mean editors, designers, marketing copy writers. You must utilize professionals to come up with a quality product. If your cover is professionally designed, you’ve had the book professionally edited, and you’ve had a professional look at your book description, then you’ve done your due diligence.
The third thing to consider is pricing. And that’s what I’m talking with you about today.
Pricing your book to sell on Amazon is a vital part of success as an author today. But knowing just how to price your book. Well, that is the tricky part.
And there’s definitely strategy to employ here. So I’m going to dig in to share with you some of the top pricing strategies that I personally recommend trying.
Check Out the Prices of Competing Books
Have you checked out the prices of books that could be considered in competition with yours? Take a look at successful authors in your genre. I’m not talking about household names here, but other authors whose books are performing well.
If you’re not sure where to start, you can search Amazon using the categories function or by searching under top keywords. And be sure to search under eBooks because they’ll give you a more complete list of all books that are doing really well.
Ignore the books that are free, because those are performing well for a different reason, and we’ll go into that more later. If a book is Free with Kindle Unlimited, you should factor the regular eBook price in.
How does your book’s price stack up?
Additionally, when I spoke with someone from Amazon at a conference, they told me that $2.99 to $5.99 is their sweet spot for eBooks. More eBooks actually sell at $3.99 than any other price.
And of course, any eBook over $9.99 is simply overpriced.
Print pricing follows a different strategy than eBooks, but the principal is the same. Find out what your target market is really paying for books, and then be in that window. If your book is more than twice as much it simply won’t sell.
And to get more readers, of course, you want them to buy your book, not that of a competitor’s. Especially in non-fiction, where one book on a topic is likely to be a buyer’s primary purchase.
Be Objective About Your Book’s Value
It’s important to be objective about your book’s value when you determine its price. Two mistakes I see often are:
- An author prices a book too high with the goal of making as much profit as possible
- An author prices a book on emotional factors, such as their emotional attachment to the book or their reflection on all of the time, heart and sacrifice that was put into the writing of the book.
Unfortunately, neither one of these factors are going to make any difference to your potential buyers. Generally, buyers are concerned about two things: Will this book bring value to my life? and Is the price of the book worth the information or entertainment I’ll gain from reading it?
Therefore, as you work to determine the price of your book, it’s important to take emotion out of your decision and start working to view your book as a complete stranger would.
And trusting a friend or family member to give you an objective opinion isn’t realistic either. They do not want to upset you and are likely to give you an answer they think you’ll want. (This is also true of plot line, editing, and cover design as well.)
Bottom line, ignore what you think your book is worth. Focus instead on what the market will bear. Because no amount of money in the world would be enough to pay you for the blood, sweat, and tears you’ve put into the book.
The Amazon Algorithm Factor
First of all, you need to know that Amazon is really just a giant search engine. A giant, proprietary search engine, but a search engine nonetheless. And knowing how to trigger its algorithms to get your book moving up the charts is definitely a worthwhile strategy.
Ultimately, that’s a post for another day. But it’s important to know that by making small, but regular adjustments to your book, you can trigger the algorithms and start making some progress.
This redounds to book description, cover, author bio, and pretty much anything that readers will see on your Amazon book page. Including, of course, pricing.
How to Play Around with Different Price Points
Since every type of book genre has different average price points, you may want to consider playing around with your price a bit to find your selling “sweet spot.”
I said above that Amazon’s sweet spot for eBooks is $2.99 to $5.99. And this is still true. But play around with your pricing a bit.
You may get some play by raising a price, just like you’ll likely get a play by putting your book on sale. If your sale is a limited time price decrease, be sure to make note of this in your book description too. It might just turn a potential buyer into an actual buyer.
And actual buyers are what we’re looking for here. Because you can turn an actual buyer into a loyal follower, and in turn someone who recommends your books to your friends.
I wouldn’t go in and change your pricing daily, but changing it up once a month or so, you can trigger the algorithm and get your book to surge in readers’ search results.
Offer Specials and Package Deals
If you ever pay attention to successful authors and how they work to sell their books, you’ll find that they occasionally offer special deals on their books, or book bundles if they have more than one book on the market.
Doing this can be a really great strategy, not only for selling books but gaining loyal readers. And loyal readers buy more books.
Let’s go over an example. Say you’ve got two books on the market; one on selling real estate and another on real estate investing.
Your book on selling real estate has been out for a year now and is doing fairly well at the price point you’ve set on Amazon.
You want your newest book on real estate investing to do just as well if not better. You may want to consider a similar price point for your second book as well.
Or you might want to consider building a book bundle where you offer the second book free with the purchase of your first, or vice versa.
You can offer your bundle as an exclusive limited edition or as long as the books are relevant.
You can always offer special promotional pricing as well. Maybe your new books are available at a limited time introductory price. Or maybe you offer a quarterly price cut to coincide with different seasons.
But what does that price cut look like?
For print, you’ll need to make sure that you cover your costs, of course. And by this, I mean production costs.
But for eBooks, there are a lot of great opportunities to run eBook promotions as well as a whole host of strategies that we’ll look at next.
How to Price Your Book During an eBook Promotion
While it’s possible that you’ll find a $1 to $2 discount will drive your sales sky high, it’s not what everyone always finds successful. So if your book is normally priced at the high end of the $5.99 sweet spot, and you discount it to the lower end, say $2.99, you need to run it for several days, and you must have a lot of reviews and a large fan base.
And you need to promote your eBook Promotion by doing more than simply adjusting the price. While that will trigger some sales, it’s just as important for you to market the promotion to your audience. And to reach new audiences, you should probably also promote it on eBook promotion sites. There are quite a few out there, and some require advance notice, so some planning is worth your while.
Free Is a Powerful Price Point
Remember how earlier I said to ignore free books in your research for authors/books that are doing well?
Now’s the time that free comes into play.
Simply put, don’t underestimate the power of free! A free eBook will “sell” more than a $1.99 eBook. And you could make your book free for a limited time, and then slowly step up the price point.
However, a permafree eBook can drive tons of sales. It may sound counterintuitive. How can you make money when you give away your books? Well, the key here is to keep writing.
By offering the first book in your series for free, you can draw them into your writing and characters, and it will trigger sales for the next book(s) in the series. And, even better, it’s really easy to do this. Simply publish your first book everywhere, and then tell Amazon that it’s available for a lower price on the other sites.
And once Amazon accepts this price point, you’ll start to see that book surge up in the rankings.
Why am I talking about continuing to write in an article about price points? Well, because readers love an author who they can get invested in. And if they see that you’re writing a popular series with lots of reviews, especially if your first book is free, they’ll buy into you.
Getting them to buy into you is easily as important as, if not more important than selling a few books. Because when that series turns into 5 or 6 books, they’ll have purchased all but one or two of them.
And, you’ll find that this is true, even if you don’t write a tradition series, per se. Maybe you write a whole slew of related books, whether they are fiction thrillers, or nonfiction books about real estate, business, or biographies.
By making one title free, you can draw readers into your other titles.
Offer an eBook and a Print book
If the book you’ve written is a paperback or hardcover with no eBook available, you could be missing out on some profits and some valuable price point information. The same logic applies in reverse. You can capture more readers by having both versions available.
And your eBook should definitely be lower than your print price.
Reviews are Powerful
They say everyone has an opinion. And it’s true. So why are reviews important?
Well, people like what other people like. So that means that opinions are powerful. How many times have you made a decision on whether or not to buy something you saw on Amazon based on the fact that it had good reviews?
If you’re looking at two products that are more or less equal in value and features and one has great reviews and the other doesn’t, which will you choose?
The more positive reviews you have on your Amazon site for your book, the more likely people will believe the book is worth the money you’re asking people to pay for it.
Note that I said positive, not 5-stars. Because while people aren’t likely to buy a book that has 1 or 2 stars on average, they also don’t trust products that have exclusively 5-star ratings. So surprisingly, you don’t want all 5-star reviews, although some 5-star reviews are fantastic.
So what do reviews do for your book in helping you sell more books? Ultimately, it may not be something that will help you price your book, but they do help decision makers justify a purchase. So they play a huge role in book sales.
For one, having them gives you more credibility. And we all want that. The more credible you are as an author, the more books you will sell, especially when you’re at the right price.
And every time you get a review, it will trigger Amazon’s algorithm and help you get your book in front of more people who might be interested in it.
But how do you get reviews?
Well, that’s the 8 million dollar question.
First, you just need to ask. Ask everyone who reads your book for an honest review. You can do this by including a letter at the back of the book. You can ask your existing fan base to leave a review if they like your book.
Amazon is tightening the loop on reviews to make sure that reviews are honest, meaningful, and helpful. And to keep people from playing the system. So you definitely want to go about this in an ethical way.
I’ve written a lot about Amazon and reviews on our own blog, including, recently why some reviews are getting pulled.
The Bottom Line
You want to price your book competitively. You can determine this by looking at books by authors who write in your genre. And the more competitive you are, the more savvy you are about your marketing, the more books you’ll sell.
I’ve explored several strategies that work well for authors we’ve worked with and for my own books, and I encourage you to put them into action.
And above all, keep writing. That’s nearly as important as pricing your books competitively. I wish I could give you the magic answer – the perfect price for your book to sell on Amazon is $x. The reality is, you’ll want to periodically adjust prices, because everybody loves a sale, and what your target audience wants today, may not perform as well next week.
And do your best to keep your ego out of the pricing game. Because book sales is a quantity game. The more copies of your book that get into readers’ hands, the more awareness you’ll gain as an author, even if your per-book profit isn’t as high as you might prefer.
No one can guarantee you sales, and anyone who says they can shouldn’t be trusted. With that said, with a little elbow grease and some great strategy, you can find the sweet spot for your book price and you’ll start to see that needle move!
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Penny Sansevieri, CEO and founder of Author Marketing Experts, Inc. (AME) and Adjunct Professor at NYU, is a best-selling author and internationally recognized book marketing and media relations expert. Her company is one of the leaders in the publishing industry and has developed some of the most cutting-edge book marketing campaigns.