Poll

Did indies price their ebooks too low in the past, thereby limiting their ebook pricing options for now, and going forward?

No, I think the pricing range for indies is about right, and indies have correctly priced low in order to gain a market foothold. There was no other option.
No. I do agree, that I think the pricing range is too low, but there was no choice. I think it was necessary for indies to price low in the past in the name of competitiveness.
No, because I think prices for indie ebooks are going to slowly rise above the current popular pricing range, and the decision to price ultra-low in the past will be a moot point.
No, because the currently popular pricing range is a mirage, doesn't need to be adhered to, and indies are undercutting themselves unnecessarily.
Yes, and now the pricing range for indie ebooks is far too low, and always will be, but I understand and agree with why people have priced so low in the past. They had to do it. No-win situation.
Yes, and now the pricing range for indie ebooks is far too low, and always will be, and it was completely unnecessary and shortsighted.
Yes, and if you thought the pricing range for indie ebooks was way too low now, it's going to get even worse. But, I still think it has been a necessary evil.
Yes, and if you thought the pricing range for indie ebooks was way too low now, it's going to get even worse, and it was completely shortsighted for indies to have done this.
It's not a 'yes' or 'no' answer. There's a lot of ins-and-outs, and what-have-yous. Basically, it's complicated, and no one's to blame. It is what it is. What can I tell you?
Who cares? The current pricing range for indie ebooks is what it is, and you can still make good money within the current range. Yes, it could change, and get worse, but it hasn't yet. Quit worrying, hurry up, and make hay while the sun is shining.
Indie ebook pricing is not something I ever think about, and it's doubtful I ever will.
It doesn't matter because the "damage", even if we agree there is any in terms of what customers now expect to pay, can be reversed. We can, and likely will, condition customers to expect to pay more.

Voting closes: March 02, 2021, 09:48:55 am

Author Topic: POLL: Pricing - - Have indies shot themselves in the foot?  (Read 2343 times)  

Offline Corvid

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POLL: Pricing - - Have indies shot themselves in the foot?
« on: December 02, 2020, 09:48:55 am »
Have indies shot themselves in the foot with respect to ebook pricing by pricing too low?


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    Offline Crystal_

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    Re: POLL: Pricing - - Have indies shot themselves in the foot?
    « Reply #1 on: December 02, 2020, 10:52:36 am »
    Your poll options are wayyyyyyyyyyyy too detailed.

    I think indie prices are fair. I'm happy to pay 3.99 to 9.99 for an eBook, though I do grumble for a minute if the book is over 4.99. I'm not really price-sensitive compared to most consumers. If I want it, I buy it.

    But it doesn't matter what a "fair" price is. Who can say how much value a book offers? There are books you'd have to pay me to read and books that offered me so much I couldn't put a price on them.

    There are indies pricing higher. There are indies pricing lower. The vast majority of eBook readers don't scroll down to check if a book is trad or indie. No one is stopping indies from pricing and packaging the same way trad publishers do.

    Offline Speaker-To-Animals

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    Re: POLL: Pricing - - Have indies shot themselves in the foot?
    « Reply #2 on: December 02, 2020, 11:30:28 am »
    I've been seeing this for years and years. Indies have done a lot of experimentation to figure out what prices result in the highest income. They didn't just randomly choose prices.

    Offline jb1111

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    Re: POLL: Pricing - - Have indies shot themselves in the foot?
    « Reply #3 on: December 02, 2020, 01:03:47 pm »
    I'm not so sure indies are undercutting themselves. And I see indie prices all over the map.

    Offline Marti talbott

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    Re: POLL: Pricing - - Have indies shot themselves in the foot?
    « Reply #4 on: December 02, 2020, 01:25:37 pm »
    It's a question of more sales vs a higher price with fewer sales.

    I've gotten several harsh reviews because readers said my books were too short for the price, so I lowered them with the break point at 300 pages. However, that was a while ago and I've been steadily raising them just to see if readers would pay more. It's a test and retest situation and it has been for the last 10 years.
    They knew it could happen. They just didn't think it would happem to them.  https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B003XKNEOS/ref=dbs_a_def_rwt_bibl_vppi_i38

    Author of over 50 novels   www.martitalbott.com

    Offline Simon Haynes

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    Re: POLL: Pricing - - Have indies shot themselves in the foot?
    « Reply #5 on: December 02, 2020, 01:47:03 pm »
    I like to price at 2.99 for series starters and 4.99 for everything else.  Personally, I will pay 2.99 for something untried, but 4.99 would definitely give me pause. But if I like the first in series, 4.99 for the next seems like a good deal.

    Occasionally I'll experiment with 99c starters and 2.99 everything else, maybe for a week or two. The only net effect is less income.

    When I use that price suggestion tool on the KDP dash it always suggests 2.99. I don't pay it any attention these days.

    I'm enrolled in KU though, so the 4.99 price is also strategic. People with 10 spots on their kindle are more likely to fill them with $50 worth of ebooks than $10 worth, I guess.
     

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    Offline psnew

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    Re: POLL: Pricing - - Have indies shot themselves in the foot?
    « Reply #6 on: December 02, 2020, 08:14:21 pm »
    Those 500+ page $0.99 bundles hurt my brain. Even JA Huss is doing that now and I just don't understand why.

    Offline ShawnaReads

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    Re: POLL: Pricing - - Have indies shot themselves in the foot?
    « Reply #7 on: December 02, 2020, 08:31:07 pm »
    Yeah, I just bought a 6-book series bundle for 99 cents, on sale from 2.99. Each book is listed for 4.99 individually. I'm not sure what the author's strategy is there. Maybe he'll only keep the box set up for a limited time? I'm not sure. (I'm also not sure why people put a whole series "box set" of audiobooks on Audible when the customer can buy the whole series with one credit instead of using a credit on each book. Seems like there's no point to that.)

    Offline psnew

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    Re: POLL: Pricing - - Have indies shot themselves in the foot?
    « Reply #8 on: December 02, 2020, 08:40:40 pm »
    I just bought a Christmas boxed set on preorder FOR FREE. I didn't realize you could do a free promo with a preorder.

    Offline markpauloleksiw

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    Re: POLL: Pricing - - Have indies shot themselves in the foot?
    « Reply #9 on: December 02, 2020, 09:30:52 pm »
    The heavily discounted model is now heavily overused and has saturated the market with discount sites and books everywhere. The discount promo sites are struggling to deliver what they used to.

    The problem with the saturation is there are really horrid books in the $0.99 space and discounting to that level and being listed next with the awful books might hurt one's brand.


    Mark

    Offline kwest

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    Re: POLL: Pricing - - Have indies shot themselves in the foot?
    « Reply #10 on: December 02, 2020, 10:14:23 pm »
    I've found $3.99-$4.99 to be the sweet spot for an e-book. I've tried $2.99 as well but it simply doesn't make sense, because you'd need to sell 33% more books at that price point to beat $3.99, and it's doubtful you're losing that many readers from a $1 difference. Meanwhile, you'd have to sell 25% more books at $3.99 to beat $4.99, and 20% more at $4.99 to beat $5.99. The higher the price, the sharper the logarithmic drop of potential buyers. So I've found $3.99-$4.99 to be the confluence point of all those moving targets. If you don't care about rank or have a large following, pricing higher makes sense.

    I'm considering charging $5.99 for my next series with $3.99 for my series starter, but I'm not sure if I'll go through with it. I think it's a confidence thing. For some reason $4.99 seems reasonable, but $5.99 just feels like I'm trying to price gouge people, even if six bucks reeeeally is not that expensive in the grand scheme of things.

    Those 500+ page $0.99 bundles hurt my brain. Even JA Huss is doing that now and I just don't understand why.

    If they're in KU, they are hoping the increase in sales causes Amazon to recommend it to KU readers, where they do get money. This strategy was super effective in early 2019 but like all silver bullets, it's lost a lot of its effectiveness. Certain genres have been absolutely flooded with these box sets to the point where it's just not effective.

    That said, if you're looking to gather as many readers/fans as possible, this is the way to do it. Once you get enough and release a new series in the same genre, many of those fans/KU readers will buy full price.

    Offline Simon Haynes

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    Re: POLL: Pricing - - Have indies shot themselves in the foot?
    « Reply #11 on: December 02, 2020, 10:24:40 pm »
    I've been thinking 5.99 as well, especially as I'm in KU. Might try that in the new year when my next round of promos has passed.

    Let's face it, 2.99 to 4.99 has been the sweet spot for almost 10 years now and inflation has to be considered. (The 9.99 max hasn't moved either, and I have box sets I'd price at 12.99 if I could.)
     

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    Offline kwest

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    Re: POLL: Pricing - - Have indies shot themselves in the foot?
    « Reply #12 on: December 02, 2020, 10:35:36 pm »
    Yeah, in KU I don't see why not. Most KU authors get the majority of their money from KU readers so there's not much to lose. If anything it will just make your books look like a better deal.

    For me, I'm wide and Apple beats out Amazon most days in royalties. And Apple users are notorious for being willing to spend more on a book. Which makes sense, since they are willing to pay so much for their Apple product, so that lack of price sensitivity is sort of self-selecting.

    So in my case, my pricing would be more in line for the Apple market, where I seem to do well for whatever reason.

    Offline Simon Haynes

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    Re: POLL: Pricing - - Have indies shot themselves in the foot?
    « Reply #13 on: December 02, 2020, 10:53:34 pm »
    Yeah, in KU I don't see why not. Most KU authors get the majority of their money from KU readers so there's not much to lose. If anything it will just make your books look like a better deal.

    In my it's 50/50. Always has been.  So there's a risk there.
     

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    Offline psychotick

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    Re: POLL: Pricing - - Have indies shot themselves in the foot?
    « Reply #14 on: December 04, 2020, 05:29:21 am »
    Hi,

    True story - my great uncle shot himself in the foot to get out of being sent to the Russian front in WWII. He had pain in that foot for the rest of his life and walked with a limp - but he survived the war.

    Cheers, Greg.
    Mostly Clueless

    Offline Amanda M. Lee

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    Re: POLL: Pricing - - Have indies shot themselves in the foot?
    « Reply #15 on: December 04, 2020, 11:16:59 am »
    It's genre dependent. Some genres can charge more and their readers are fine with it. Most genres that have whale readers, however, are more price-sensitive. Personally, I have unlimited book money and I don't pay more than $4.99 for an ebook. I will for JD Robb because I'm invested in that series. I will occasionally for a hardback, but I rarely buy those any longer. I do free giveaways occasionally. In fact, I will just burn some of my days on FIS starting on Christmas. I charge $4.99 for all releases now and then run promos on first in series. It works for me. My genres have whale readers, though. There is no "one size fits all" in this business. You have to base your model on your genre.

    Amanda M. Lee

    Offline Wayne Stinnett

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    Re: POLL: Pricing - - Have indies shot themselves in the foot?
    « Reply #16 on: December 04, 2020, 12:17:33 pm »
    I write long series--about to release #19 in my longest. The first is usually $2.99, as are books two and three. But through the holidays, book one is only $.99. After that, they step up a dollar in price for each subsequent three books. With books 16-19 at $7.99.

    And before anyone asks, my four most recent books, priced at $7.99, averaged 38 sales per day across all four titles last month, ranging from 172 to 399 sales/preorders for the month. So, yes, higher priced Indie books can sell.
    My Bestselling, 18-volume Jesse McDermitt Series and the spinoff,  5-volume Charity Styles Series, also bestsellers, are available in ebook, audiobook, and paperback, wherever books are sold. In my motivational non-fiction, Blue Collar to No Collar, I provide tips, advice, and strategies for new authors, also available in the same formats. Don't forget to visit the Ship's Store for Jesse McDermitt swag.
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    Offline Carol (was Dara)

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    Re: POLL: Pricing - - Have indies shot themselves in the foot?
    « Reply #17 on: December 04, 2020, 05:20:35 pm »
    Personally, I see it as two separate questions.

    (1) Is low pricing good for individual indies?

    (2) Is it good for the industry as a whole?

    I feel that low to medium pricing is very good for individual authors trying to gain a foothold in a crowded market place. As one builds a following or enters less crowded niches, it becomes beneficial to find other ways to differentiate themselves from the competition so they can command a higher price that's more sustainable for the long term. But in the beginning, discounting makes an easier sell.

    I suspect that bargain pricing is not so great for the publishing industry as a whole because it conditions the audience to expect rock-bottom prices for newly released, novel-length books, prices that are so low in some cases that the author can't turn a decent profit after expenses. Of course, an opposing argument could be made that the cheapness of indie ebooks converts non-readers into readers, turns casual readers into voracious ones, encourages paperback readers to embrace digital reading, and maybe even discourages piracy by offering an affordable alternative. Impossible to know, I think, which side of that argument is correct but it's ultimately irrelevant. Authors struggling to make a living can't be expected to ignore their best interest as an individual based on some vague idea of what might be good for the market - a market they may not be involved in anyway ten years down the road. Natural instinct (including mine) is to get sales while the getting is good.

    I didn't select any pole option, by the way, because there were so many and each was so specific, but I do think it's an interesting discussion and one we've been having regularly since I started in 2011. It's always good to keep experimenting and measuring what's working or changing today, as opposed to ten years ago. 

    Offline nightwork

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    Re: POLL: Pricing - - Have indies shot themselves in the foot?
    « Reply #18 on: December 04, 2020, 05:50:39 pm »
    in my best-selling genres the price of ebooks is rising

    people don't choose what to put in their heads based on price

    keep the faith, it's going to be fine

    Offline Simon Haynes

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    Re: POLL: Pricing - - Have indies shot themselves in the foot?
    « Reply #19 on: December 04, 2020, 05:58:43 pm »
    If I was selling boxes of matches I'd be worried, but books aren't interchangeable commodities. (Not until AIs are writing them all, at least.)

    If a reader finds an author they like, whether it's through a permafree or a 99c special or a $24.99 hardback in a bookstore, the price of subsequent books compared to those offered by other authors is unimportant. Oh, they might wait for a sale, maybe, but if that author is on their radar and they want more, they don't go and buy a 99c boxset containing 14 short novels instead.

    The key is getting that first book into the hands of readers - and not just freebie collectors. (Hence 99c probably being a better idea than permafree, even if the latter gives spectacular download figures.)

     

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    Offline kwest

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    Re: POLL: Pricing - - Have indies shot themselves in the foot?
    « Reply #20 on: December 04, 2020, 09:05:06 pm »
    I write long series--about to release #19 in my longest. The first is usually $2.99, as are books two and three. But through the holidays, book one is only $.99. After that, they step up a dollar in price for each subsequent three books. With books 16-19 at $7.99.

    And before anyone asks, my four most recent books, priced at $7.99, averaged 38 sales per day across all four titles last month, ranging from 172 to 399 sales/preorders for the month. So, yes, higher priced Indie books can sell.

    You sir, are an inspiration. For some reason I just have this image of all my fans rebelling if I raise my prices from $4.99 to $5.99 as ridiculous at that sounds.

    Offline jb1111

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    Re: POLL: Pricing - - Have indies shot themselves in the foot?
    « Reply #21 on: December 04, 2020, 09:39:05 pm »
    The heavily discounted model is now heavily overused and has saturated the market with discount sites and books everywhere. The discount promo sites are struggling to deliver what they used to.

    The problem with the saturation is there are really horrid books in the $0.99 space and discounting to that level and being listed next with the awful books might hurt one's brand.

    Mark

    I don't think cheaper pricing has that affect.

    I see professionally produced and professional appearing romance eBooks that are 99 cents listed next to similar ones that go for 3.99 and above, and yet they all seem to sell well.

    Saturation is saturation. And when you put KU's effect into the mix, where a book is more or less free, the idea of pricing affecting the overall marketplace is lessened.

    Offline Wayne Stinnett

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    Re: POLL: Pricing - - Have indies shot themselves in the foot?
    « Reply #22 on: December 08, 2020, 07:34:19 am »
    You sir, are an inspiration. For some reason I just have this image of all my fans rebelling if I raise my prices from $4.99 to $5.99 as ridiculous at that sounds.

    Some will. No doubt about it. But consider the revenue produced by a lower number of sales. If 100 sell at $2.99, that's roughly $200 to the author. You can make that same money with a third of those sales at $7.99. Understanding your sell through and your audience is key. A reader picks up book one at $2.99 and enjoys it, so they go back and get #2 at the same price, then #3. After that, the price of #4 is only $1 more. Same with #5 and #6, then there's another $1 increase to #7, #8, and #9. In a really long series, the reader is already involved with the characters before they get that first $1 increase.

    You have to also understand supply and demand economy. With eBooks the supply is unlimited, so you can't raise the price due to a supply shortage. In a long series, demand for later books is far higher than the demand for the earlier ones. High demand can justify a higher price.
    My Bestselling, 18-volume Jesse McDermitt Series and the spinoff,  5-volume Charity Styles Series, also bestsellers, are available in ebook, audiobook, and paperback, wherever books are sold. In my motivational non-fiction, Blue Collar to No Collar, I provide tips, advice, and strategies for new authors, also available in the same formats. Don't forget to visit the Ship's Store for Jesse McDermitt swag.
    Wayne Stinnett | Website | Facebook | Amazon Author Page | Twitter | Talk Write Podcast | Ship's Store

    Offline Lorri Moulton [Lavender Lass Books]

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    Re: POLL: Pricing - - Have indies shot themselves in the foot?
    « Reply #23 on: December 08, 2020, 12:33:25 pm »
    I decided to raise all my prices.  I wasn't selling many books at 99c to $2.99, but I feel better about them sitting there at $2.99 to $4.99.  If we ever get to reopen the day job, I might even advertise in 2021. 8)
     
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    Offline Crystal_

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    Re: POLL: Pricing - - Have indies shot themselves in the foot?
    « Reply #24 on: December 08, 2020, 01:21:00 pm »
    Personally, I find the step ladder pricing a bit :/

    I wouldn't use it myself, though I can see the logic in it. The more invested fans are the ones who will keep reading the series. They'll probably pay more.

    I prefer a discount on book one only (or on the first few books only) then one price increase, not multiple.

    I have seen sales increase when raising prices from 2.99 to 4.99. A lot of KU romance authors are still releasing at 2.99, even some who are charging 5.99 full price, but I'm moving away from that. I release at 3.99 and raise my price to 4.99 for the series at that price or keep it at 3.99 for the series at that price.

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