Five Years is Forever in Indie Publishing…

Well, I spent the last two nights going back and trying to update and then even fisk my own post from five years ago about pricing. What a fool’s errand.

The post was so out of date, I just kept shaking my head in amazement and wondering who wrote it.

I was looking at it through 2017 glasses and a ton of new knowledge. Stunning, just stunning how many changes in this business have happened.

In the last five years we have done a master business class here on the coast every October, the next one in a few weeks. And every year when we go to get ready for the new year, we look back at our notes and then just toss them out. They are always too dated.

I discovered that again trying to do an “update” on a pricing post from 2012.

So instead of making a fool of myself more than I already do by showing you that old post, let me give you my thinking on book pricing here in 2017 in a very simple and clear form.

Electronic Pricing… Novels

Genre matters. Range from $3.99 to $6.99, with romance being on the lower side, mystery on the upper side.

Length does not seem to matter at all.

All the studies have shown that you get above $6.99 and you start hitting price resistance for electronic books unless the book is something really special.

You go below $3.99 and you leave yourself no room for discounting or short-term sales.

You get down into the 99 cent area and you are in a trash ghetto.

And yes, I do know about the stupidity of ever-free. Just say no. However, doing a deep discount on a first novel of a series will get you readers. But make sure those readers pay something otherwise you attract the wrong kinds of readers. And secondly, you have to have the rest of the series priced decently for genre to make the first book discount look worthwhile.

Electronic Pricing… Short Stories

I know many don’t put their short stories up as stand-alone, but in this new world of Vellum, why not give readers more ways to discover you? You are missing a cash stream and readers by not doing it.

A general rule of thumb of short fiction… Genre does not matter. Length does matter. Exactly opposite of novels.

Under 3,000 words, 99 cents or $1.99. I would favor the $1.99 to stay out of the trash pile.

Over 3,000 words, $2.99.  (I know some writers who are doing $3.99 and making fine money on short fiction, but I like the $2.99 as a good balance.)

Over 10,000 words, $3.99 and above 20,000 words price it as a novel in the genre and call it a short novel. (Yes, I know that is still in novella length, but ask a person on the street to define a “novella.” Writers know what it is, regular readers outside of a couple genres do not.)

Paper Pricing… Novels

The old general rule of $2.00 profit in extended distribution in CreateSpace has become meaningless. Get your price down as much as you can. Under $10 is the best for trade paper. $12.99 is fine as well. Above that you hit resistance unless the book is longer.

Length not only matters, it causes the price to go up. You have no choice, but try to keep the cost down as low as possible.

If you want to try to do some bookstore distribution (a folly in 2017 because as Author Earnings have reported, almost 80% of paper books are sold online these days. But if you want to try, go to IngramSpark to get into the Ingram Catalog. (Yes, you can do two editions, one on CreateSpace just for Amazon and the other at Ingram for larger distribution.

This is new because of the ease of Vellum as well and the ease of laying out books. A friend had sex in some of his romance books, so he cleaned that out with an easy pass, then did “sweet” versions of his books in electronic paper alongside the normal ones on the shelves. More chances of reaching more readers.

Keep the price low as possible, especially in romance. Very price conscious group.

Paper Pricing… Short Stories.

Yes, why not do a paper edition of your stand-alone short story? It’s free to do, easy with Vellum to lay out, and makes your $2.99 electronic price look pretty good with the $4.99 paper there linked. I’ve done that on about eighty short stories and hope to do more shortly. They sell slowly, but they do sell.

Audio Pricing

Not getting anywhere near audio. You are on your own. But do realize there are new players on the field in audio. Go slow and learn them and give them a chance to grow some.

That’s it.

2017 sure has made things a ton easier. The drive of pricing to hit the bottom leveled out a few years ago and now we are stable. And if we indies keep our prices in those ranges, it makes those traditional electronic prices look downright stupid. And more readers will go to indie books.


And don’t forget about our Pulphouse Fiction Magazine Kickstarter. Going on now. I would love to get to the next stretch goal and do another book for everyone. And you can get workshop credits through the Kickstarter as well and it is the only place to sign up for the Strengths Workshops.

And someone asked and yes, a regular workshop credit is worth two Classic Workshop credits.