How Much Should You Charge For Your E-Book?

Cover for Snowmobile Challenge, an e-book by Linda Aksomitis
Cover for Snowmobile Challenge, an e-book by Linda Aksomitis

One of the most common questions students ask in my virtual classroom for Publish and Sell Your E-Books is how much they should charge for their ebooks. There isn’t, however, one answer (or price) that fits all books.

Traditional publishers may have it easier to set prices, because they know their input costs and have a reasonable idea of expected sales.

Independent, or Indie, self-publishers may not have any input costs if they’re doing everything themselves from the editing to creating the cover. Instead, they have to formulate some idea of what it has cost them in other ways, such as lost earnings for the time they’ve committed to writing and creating the book.

And of course, first time authors (or even mid-list authors) have no way of knowing how many copies of an e-book they’ll sell.

E-books don’t have an inventory, so the cost of paying for boxes and boxes of books, plus their storage, is also eliminated.

So, how does an indie author set price? Well, one of the best ways is to survey the market and see what it will bear.

For checking prices I recommend authors use Smashwords. Why? Smashwords is one of the largest distributors of independently published e-books.

Smashwords books are distributed to the other large bookstores, plus even though Smashwords doesn’t distribute their whole catalog to Amazon, an author’s  e-books must be priced the same on Amazon as other bookstores due to agreements.

This means you’ll get a broad, accurate sampling of e-book pricing at Smashwords.

But why do I recommend students compare on Smashwords instead of Amazon or Barnes & Noble? Well, because it’s very easy to do with Smashwords’ sorting system.

Just take these simple steps on the Smashwords homepage:

  1. Select your fiction or nonfiction genre from the left navigation frame
  2. Select sort by Units Sold from the top navigation frame
  3. Select Any Price from the top navigation frame
  4. Select the length closest to your own from the top navigation frame

Each change will be applied as you make it, so when you’re done you can go through the books that are closest to your market and see how the best sellers are priced.

It’s a good idea to also check out the authors of the top sellers on the Internet, if you want more information, to see if they’re highly regarded in their field or newcomers. Traditionally, buyers expect to pay more for established experts or already-popular authors’ work.

This should give you more data to help you make a decision.

For more help on publishing and selling your e-book, join me in class!

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