How to price your ebook can be a tough decision.
Which is surprising since there aren’t many standard price points to choose from!
$.99 – $9.99
That can be broken down in fifty cent increments or one dollar increments. ($1.49, $1.99, $2.49, etc.)
Sure, you could charge $1.27, or $6.73, but price points like that tend to make customers think they’re buying a used item.
So with a max of 19 prices, how do you price your ebook?
What does the competition charge?
Get a clear picture of what people expect to pay for your kind of story.The best place to start is to look at what the competition charges in the Top 20, then price-match the books that you’d like to compete with.
For those of us who write in those annoying little gray areas where it’s tough to find the competition… well… we need to dig a little deeper to find good facts to work from.
My Shirley Link mystery series for Middle Grade to Young Adult is a perfect example. Not many indys write in this specific category, which makes it hard to price match with competitors. I’ve found that most people just won’t pay a Nancy Drew price for an indy book.
Not enough competition to price-match? Try, and try again!
After a lot of trial and error, I’ve settled on my latest pricing strategy of:
Shirley Link & The Safe Case (#1): FREE
Shirley Link & The Hot Comic (#2): $.99
Shirley Link & The Treasure Chest (#3): $2.49
Shirley Link & Black Cat (#4): $2.99
It’s a cross between the pricing strategy of Romance ebooks and Kids ebooks. Start free, make #2 cheap, then crawl up to $2.99, where I can start to make some good money.
Frankly, it’s been a tough road to find the right price for Shirley Link! But I’m definitely getting closer as I try different prices and roll out new books.
Should I go free?
Perma-free is the term we use to describe a book that is free “forever.” Many series authors make the first book in the series free because it helps increase visibility. Going perma-free, when done right, can mean higher sales for the rest of your series.
If you write a series, then do the following to decide if you should go perma-free on Amazon.
1) Do 3 Free Promo Days with book #1.
2) Measure the sales of the entire series post-promo.
3) Answer this question: If your entire series did this well all the time would you be happy? If the answer is yes, then ask a follow-up question. Would you be happy if your series did half as well all the time? If the answer to that is yes then make the first book perma-free. Why? Because the book is strong enough to act as a good entry-point for your entire series. So it’s likely that it will drive satisfying sales. If the answer to either question is no, then perma-free is probably not for you.
If your free book doesn’t rocket readers into your other books, then permafree is not a good pricing strategy.
The bottom line is this: your audience will send strong signals if your price is wrong. For instance, if you see slow sales after a successful free promo day on Amazon, then one reason could be the price point. “But I charge one buck for my ebook!” you might say.
The problem could still be with your price.
Your price may be too low.
Try jacking it up 50 cents. Yes, really. It worked for my third Shirley Link book.
One last tip is to reach out to fans. Ask them what they think the book is worth. Your readers can offer some keen insights on topics ranging from pricing to book description to, of course, story content!
How did you decide the price for your ebook? Do you experiment a lot, too?
Check out my post on how to make your book free on Amazon.
by Ben Zackheim
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Prepare your book for its KDP Select free promotion days
Amazon KDP Select has a bridge to sell you! No, really.
The $11 Million question: Is KDP Select worth it?
Want to do more research on pricing your book? Here’s some good reading:
Nick Stephenson (with nifty graphs!)
Cheat sheet. Use it once you’ve read the rest of this post!
In my last post, I covered the general rules of choosing the right genre for your book. I spoke briefly about Amazon’s categories. I’ll go into more details now.
The ground rules for Amazon categories are simple:
Every genre on Amazon gets to have its own tidy list of popular titles.
Each of these lists is often visited by fans of those genres.
Amazon scours their popularity lists for books to promote.
So how do you show up on a popular Amazon list?
Choose the right genre when you publish your book on Amazon.
Once you’ve identified which genres you belong in, you need to decide which genre is easiest for you to get in the Top 20. We’re shooting for the Top 20 because that means your book would show up on the first page of that genre’s Amazon page.
Good place to be…
After we find the easiest genre to place in, we’ll shoot for a tougher genre. Just to keep things interesting!
How to choose the right genre for your book on Amazon
Okay, let’s say we write a Mystery ebook for kids with a female detective (like oh, say, Shirley Link). Here are some of the possible categories on Amazon. I dug these up by rummaging through Amazon’s genre lists (seen on the left hand side of this page)
Kindle ebooks/Children’s ebooks/Mysteries & Detectives
Kindle ebooks/Children’s ebooks/Mysteries & Detectives/Detectives
Kindle ebooks/Children’s ebooks/Action & Adventure
Kindle ebooks/Children’s ebooks/Literature & Fiction/Beginner Readers
Kindle ebooks/Literature & Fiction/Chapter Books
Kindle ebooks/Literature & Fiction/Women’s Fiction/Mystery, Thriller & Suspense/Women Sleuths
Any of these genres would work for the book. So how do we choose which genre we can get to #20 in?
Using Theresa Ragan’s sales estimator, I get a ballpark idea of how many books I’d need to sell to crack the top 20 of each possible genre.
So the #20 book in Kindle ebooks/Children’s ebooks/Mysteries & Detectives/Detectives is Nancy Drew & The Bungalow Mystery.
But, more important to us is the book’s overall Kindle rank of 39,589 (see image below).
Checking Theresa’s sales estimator, this means the book sells between 3-15 copies per day.
Nancy Drew: The Bungalow Mystery sales rank info from the book’s product page on Amazon:
On the other hand, Kindle ebooks/Children’s ebooks/Mysteries & Detectives is a tough one. The 20th ranked book has an overall Kindle sales rank of 3,239. This means the book sells between 30-50 books per day.
Spirit Animals Book 1 sales rank info from the book’s product page on Amazon:
I think I can manage to sell 3-15 books per day, but 30-50 will take some ingenuity. If I can find a way to crack the tough Action & Adventure Top 20 list then that will mean much more exposure to more people. I’m willing to claw my way up that genre’s listings over the long haul. One good sales day could be a game changer.
It’s fine to choose low-popularity genres for your picks. You’re more likely to be seen by fans of those genres if you rank high! But don’t be afraid to experiment if you’re not happy with sales. Yes, it’s possible to lose sales because you’ve changed genres, but if you do it with a marketing plan to back it up then you can gain crucial customer knowledge.
If you have any questions, please ask them in the comments. Don’t forget to use the cheat sheet above. And pass it on to a writer friend.
Thanks for reading!
By Ben Zackheim
Helpful tool: Sign up for EBookTracker to get details on any book’s ranking over time. The tool won’t help you see actual sales, but it will give you insights around your favorite genre’s movers and shakers.
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Amazon has a bridge to sell ya!
The $1.1 Million question: Is KDP Select worth it?
This is a follow-up to a previous post.
I’ve received some feedback on my post about advertising on Goodreads, and it looks like some people are interested in getting into Goodreads, but haven’t made the plunge yet. This sequel is for you!
The thing I like about Goodreads is that it’s filled with readers of all ages. The best way to get to know people who share your tastes is search their groups. I’m still seeking out my niche, but I’ve found lots of helpful and supportive people by just making a page for myself .
If you’re an author you can either “claim” the books you’ve written, or you can upload your book data manually. Once you have an author page with books you can start to find friends by joining group discussions. The best way to sum it up is that Goodreads, while a bit obtuse, is a microcosm of all the reading/writing forums you’ve ever joined on the Web. It’s a wild west of discussions and contests and promotions. The benefit for the author is that you only interact with dedicated book lovers.
Goodreads started a service called Goodreads Self-serve Ads. You can buy, for up to 50 cents per click, ad space on the right or left column of some of their pages. The ads consist of a small image, ad copy and a link to wherever you want. You can set aside any amount as your budget (I chose 10 bucks) and you can track your ad’s performance.
The big benefit of ads on Goodreads is that everyone who sees the ad is more likely than the public at large to be interested in your ad. Still, to ensure you get the most bang for your buck Goodreads allows you to target your ad, meaning you can offer the ad to certain kinds of Goodreads customers. They allow you to show your ads ONLY to people who like (for instance) mystery and YA. You can choose as many genres as you’d like to target, but it’s a fine line you’ll walk in trying to target correctly.If you target too broadly you risk getting people clicking on your ad who are not interested in your kind of book. That’s wasted money. Conversely, if you target too specifically you can filter out perfectly good customers and not see anyone click on your ad at all.
You can also target customers by the author they like, which is an interesting filter that I plan to test out in my next campaign. I need to find out from my current readers who they think I’m similar to!
Advertising on Goodreads
As you can see in the image below, I set my daily budget to 2 bucks. That meant I was planning to pay for a max of 4 clicks on my ad (they charge up to 50 cents per click). I set 10 bucks as the campaign budget, meaning I planned on eventually paying for 20 clicks at 50 cents each. As you can see from the views data, a lot of people had the ad put in front of their faces. A “view” is simply defined as “your ad showed up on the person’s web page”. Goodreads can’t actually guarantee that someone saw and read the ad, they can only tell me that 116,129 people had the ad served to a page that they loaded. Of those 116, 129 Goodreads people, 20 people clicked on my ad. That is .02%
While that sounds miserable, it’s a middling result. A super success would be half a percent point considering that Goodreads doesn’t give you a sexy place on their page to put your ad. In the final analysis I got some exposure for my book series brand, and 20 people showed interest in buying the books.
And here is where I learned my biggest lesson. Because I don’t have a sale page on my personal website where I can track traffic, I can’t see how many people actually bought the books. I can look at the dates when the ads ran and guess but that’s not a good way to measure these things. My conclusion is that it’s best to have a page with a shopping cart on your own site so you can check the traffic for your site and see “oh, he came from Goodreads.com and he bought a copy on my site.” This way you can see how successful the ad campaign is AND tweak your ad and/or purchase experience next time around.
I’ve learned about a trick and I plan to use it on my next book. According to Tom Corson-Knowles, you can track conversion on Amazon pages by placing an image of yourself in your book description. The image should be hosted by you and served from a bit.ly url. The bit.ly url will allow you to go to the bit.ly site and check traffic for the link. This way you can find out a bunch of user data on who went to your Amazon book page from Goodreads. I haven’t tried this on my Amazon profile because I use Amazon’s Author Central, which does not allow html in their profile form. However, if you are on KDP and have not signed up for Author Central, you CAN use the KDP profile form to enter html, including the bit.ly link. There are some tricks to it and I advise that you buy the three dollar book on Amazon, or borrow it if you’re on Amazon Prime. It’s worth it. It appears that Amazon has changed their policy. I tried to use this trick on a new book using KDP and my html was rejected. As of now, I’m not aware of a way to see traffic to your Amazon page.
Goodreads, for their part, advises ad buyers to make their ads link to the book’s Goodreads page. The Goodreads customer likes their ads to stay within the Goodreads ecosystem because they’re loyal and enjoy the experience.
I saw an uptick in my ads’ performance (known as CTR, or “click through rate”) when I did two things:
- Updated the copy. I went for the soft sell, instead of the hard sell. I toned down the language and removed the “Get the book for Xmas”-type wording. The hard sell doesn’t work well on Goodreads.
- I changed the ad so it linked to Goodreads instead of Amazon. This made the link at the bottom of the ad read “Goodreads” instead of “Amazon” which, again, appears to be what Goodreads customers prefer.
I hope this post now makes it clear what the benefits of Goodreads is as a platform and as a place to advertise.
by Ben Zackheim