The Price is the Thing, or, Why Are All eBooks $2.99!?

Have you ever wondered why so many indie-published stories are $2.99? Let me tell you!

This particular mainstay of indie books is largely thanks to Amazon.

As a publisher, Amazon offers two royalty levels: the first is 30% and the second is 70% (this is the amount of the purchasing price of the book that the author receives). As you can tell, the 70% rate is much more attractive.

A tiny bit of math will also show you that for every sale you make at $2.99, it takes six sales at the $0.99, 30% price point to make the same in royalties. There is also speculation among the indie-publishing community that sales at $2.99 or more impact your overall sales rank more than the $0.99 price point.

From an author’s perspective, there’s very little reason to price your book under $2.99. However, there are some reasons to do so:

-You don’t have a very large back catalog (say, less than 5 titles total to your pen name.) The lower price point might get you some more of the important early exposure.

-You have a serial, so you price the first episode of the serial at $0.99 as a “loss leader,” hoping that by enticing readers with the low entry cost they will buy the remaining episodes at the regular price.

-You are running a promotion. This works best if you have some way to get the word out that your book is available for $0.99. There are services for authors that will try to get said word out, but they cost money. It’s all a gamble. Promotions work best if you have a large back catalog to take advantage of: if a reader buys and enjoys your promo title, hopefully they will look for more things you’ve written.

-You don’t know any better. As you can see, from a financial perspective there is very little reason to price your book so low. Many authors put their books out at this price point simply because they’re not confident in themselves or their work, and don’t believe people will think it’s worth the money.

However, that 70% royalty comes with several stipulations. The most important of these to you, the reader, is that $2.99 is the lowest possible price an author can set a book at to still earn a 70% royalty.

If Amazon were to offer that 70% royalty at a lower cover price, I’m sure many authors would take advantage of it as another marketing tactic. However, the only way to get that royalty level under $2.99 on Amazon at the moment is to run a Kindle Countdown Deal. And to run one of those, your book must be enrolled in KDP Select, which prohibits you from publishing the title digitally anywhere but Amazon.

All-in-all, I still think $2.99 is a pretty decent price. it’s less than a fancy coffee at Starbucks, and many traditionally-published ebooks are much more expensive, usually $9.99 or more!

So, I hope you’ll continue to support indie authors. And I hope this post has helped you understand why we price our books the way we do.

All the best!


On Writing Serials

In this new world (relatively new, anyway) of online indie publishing, serialized stories generate a lot of debate.

Some readers see them as cash grabs on the part of the author. Others enjoy the more leisurely reading pace that comes with having to wait for the next installment. As a writer of serials, I have a few thoughts on the matter.

Serialized storytelling is all around you, and has been for a long time. It’s a tradition that extends back to Charles Dickens, who published his classic works in serialized chapters. People would wait around for the latest Dickens, and there were often public readings. Some of my reviewers state that they don’t like this “new trend.” Let me tell you, this is not a new trend at all. If anything, it’s a return to form.

But it’s more recent, too. Do you watch television shows? Congratulations, you’re watching a serialized story! Movies are often the same way, with franchises telling their stories across trilogies and more. Comics are another example.

This is one reason why I don’t get the complaints when people buy a serial. Do you not watch TV or movies? It should be a form of storytelling you are used to.

Serials also give the author a chance to react to criticism. Take The Girlfriend Contract for example. I noticed several people complain about Gwen and Beatrice interacting more than Gwen and Aiden, so I made certain that Gwen and Aiden had more scenes together in Episode 2. Had I published an entire novel all at once, that would be a complaint I couldn’t address.

Moreover, I get to see people’s theories and hopes regarding the story. Guess what, if you share an idea about the direction of the plot or about a character that I like, there’s a decent chance I might actually incorporate it into the story! Serials are far more interactive between reader and author.

Since I can see what people are liking and not liking in the story, I can alter the course of the story to concentrate more on the aspects I know my readers find enjoyable, and minimize or eliminate the stuff that they don’t. What’s not to like about that?

Serials build anticipation. They give you something to look forward to. And, to paraphrase Oscar Wilde, anticipation is the best part of anything. Sure, there is pleasure in just blasting through a novel or a TV show or what-have-you as quickly as you can, but there is also pleasure in taking your time.

What are your thoughts on serials?