Monday, February 27, 2012

Setting The Price for Your Product

This past week, it was announced in the news that Amazon removed thousands of titles from their virtual shelves because they felt they were priced too high. It truly got me thinking about how authors and indie publishers price their works. When I thought about pricing, I know my publisher (ASD Publishing) looked at similar books, sizes, genres to come up with the rate a book should be. There is no way I can compete with the big named authors/publishers (though good money is spent on the products to make them as professional as can be), so I did not want to overprice my work and in turn: lose a reader. There are so many books out there, and I'll admit that I'm torn. I realize the time and effort that goes into the writing, editing, polishing, publishing of that small 'baby'. And to simply 'give it away' seems like there is no value on it. (I always say in my day job of running an arts center "Free admission places no value on the production." I feel the same way about books. However, I try to keep my works in the ballpark so they can play the game (knowing all online places will be discounting it anyways) and still make more than a quarter off of each book sold. I personally have seen some indie books that I feel are priced too high - priced like a NY Times Best Selling Author & I know I've decided not to take a chance on some of those books since I don't know the author's work.

So I began to wonder what others do. Those authors out there pricing their own works and/or running a small publishing company. I questioned three of them and their answers are below.

Carey Parrish Author/Blogger  Website  Blog   Amazon 
Alina Oswald Writer/Photographer  Blog  Amazon  
Kergan Edwards-Stout Author/Publisher  Website Amazon

Thank you all for joining me today. Let's get down to a few questions. 

What do you use to determine price of your product? 

Carey Parrish
I go by what I think the book should sell for and use others as a guidepost when I'm not sure. - Carey Parrish
To price my books I usually look at similar books, comparing price, page number, size, photos (and number of photos). Being a photographer, I also look at paper quality (and, yes, images), especially when photos are included. I know that printing a book (text and images) on the same kinda paper is much cheaper than printing images on glossy paper and text on regular white/cream paper. In addition, I think one should compare books in the same category... not only genre - but also the overall 'look' of the book, cover, attention to details, these sorts of things. - Alina Oswald
My goal has been for my book to appear the same as other authors whose work I respect, and I did a review of other like books in the marketplace to help determine pricing.  For me, the goal in everything I've done--from the look of the book, to the color of the pages, to the cover finish, to the price--has been to be in parity with books published by the bigger houses. - Kergan Edwards-Stout

Have you ever felt your book sales were lower because you were priced higher than similar books in your genre? 

I did in the case of my short story anthology. - CP
Alina Oswald
I always have questions as a writer and photographer on how low/high to price my work. I used to price them very, very low, at a level that I was losing money. I usually try to go for a fair price. If I price them slightly higher, I can bargain with a buyer and I still end up with a decent price. To make the story short, I think I price my work, in general, lower than I'd like to. - AO
Ultimately, I want to be seen as a quality product, and lower pricing or discounts can give the impression that something is of less quality, so I haven't gone down the discount pricing road. - KES

How do you feel about when authors slash their prices and gain major sales in one day? 

I say if it works go for it. Authors like us have to use marketing ploys like this to get our work noticed in a lot of cases. - CP
I think that... the more expensive the book, the less copies you have to sell; the lower the price of the book, the more books you have to sell to make some money. I talked to a lot of photographers who sell their work at fairs, festivals, etc. One told me she never lowers the price of her work, not even before closing time; she doesn't bargain either. I think that an author should slash prices or give away free books if necessary, but for a limited--hopefully very brief--amount of time. I know (myself included) photographers who do not up their rates because of the economy. I also know photographers, top-notch ones who charge a fortune to start with, who increase their rates or, at least do not work for less. I think this idea can be applied to authors, too. I believe that the more known the author, the more leverage he/she has to not lower the price of their books. I think we have to learn to balance our ballet walk on that fine line. - AO
Kergan Edwards-Stout
If the number of sales are their priority, more power to them.  For me, though, the price speaks to the quality of the writing.  if I see a paperback priced 15.99 and another 6.99, it places a question mark in my head as to whether the cheaper is any good. - KES

Thoughts on online bookstores that dictate pricing. 

I think it's a sham in some cases, especially when they jack up the prices on some books so that a lot people in this economy can't afford them. - CP
Online bookstores, like the brick-and-mortar ones (which are disappearing fast) have the right to set their prices. I think there are a few things to keep in mind: if they do editing/promotion/cover art/etc then they have the right to have a say-so in pricing; if they don't do anything else but upload what you send them (without proofing or anything of the sort) then their slice of the pie should be much smaller. I think it's just common sense... And I think it's, again, based on the quality (not only quantity) of their work. - AO

Thanks you, all for being so honest with your answers.

Check out these authors online - and I can tell you, you'll be glad for whatever price spent reading their works.

As for the other authors/publishers that follow my blog, please feel free to respond below in the comments section. I'd love to hear from more people and start a dialogue about pricing.


  1. Great post, and as one of those authors whose ebook is priced a bit higher, I must agree with general sentiment and attest that consumers are willing to pay for quality when they shop for a book.

    From the sales perspective, with Rain, (at $6.99 for the ebook) we looked at two variables: 1) It helps raise money for charity so consumers would be more willing to pay the price when they knew half was going to a great cause, and 2) because of the writing style and subject matter the book was specifically geared and marketed to more discerning readers who, typically, will pay for a book they feels matches there standards of quality.

    In the end, I believe book pricing comes down to a lot more than just what the competition is doing.

    1. Great response, Brandon! Thanks for sharing with us.