Why $.99 E-Books Don’t Work for Me

I’ve gone back and forth for months trying to decide whether to price the e-book version of my new release, The Arranger, at $.99 or $2.99…for the launch phase. The thinking is this: At 99 cents, I’ll sell more copies, the book will go higher on the Amazon charts, and I’ll get more exposure. But I won’t make much money…unless it hits the top of the charts and stays there for a long time. But can I count on that?


Of course not. In July, I conducted an experiment and priced all my Jackson e-books at $.99. They got a little bump in sales, then quickly settled into a slightly higher level than where they’d been at $2.99, for example 25 copies a day for one title compared to 15 at the higher price. The problem is the royalty. Amazon only pays a 35% royalty on books under $2.99, instead of 70%. So dropping from $2.99 to $.99 not only means earning a third of the price, it also means receiving half of the royalty.

Straight up math: I have to sell six times as many books at the lower price to make exactly the same money. And that’s hard to pull off. There are so many authors and publishers now offering their books at $.99 that it’s hard to gain much attention with that price, especially since my books have been on the market a while and already reached thousands of readers. (And thank you to all those readers!)

After only a few weeks, my experiment taught me this: I can’t make a living selling e-books at $.99. Yet, I have to make a living. I’m a full-time novelist now and I don’t want to go back to freelancing. If I were to start editing again to make up the cash difference, I would write less and disappoint my readers who are waiting for the next Jackson book.

So all my e-books are now back to the higher price, and The Arranger will be released at $2.99. It’s still a great bargain for readers, and the plan is to leave my prices set. Readers like consistency, and I’m sure they’re as tired of the price fluctuations as I am. I certainly hope this is my last post on the subject. If you want to read another blog about cheap e-books, written with a lot more passion, check out The 99 Cent Ghetto.

Readers: Are you willing to pay $2.99 for an e-book you want?
Writers: Have you experimented with price and found the optimum?


This is a reprint from L.J. Sellersblog.

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