Self-published authors often see advice about pricing their books — not too cheap, not too expensive, as though there’s a Goldilocks price for an ebook. I’ve seen 2.99 to 4.99 recommended as ebook pricing “sweet spots.”
Authors sometimes wonder how potential buyers can be so reluctant to part with the few bucks they charge for their ebooks. It’s only $2.99! You can’t buy a cup of coffee for that. What’s the problem?
I suspect the amount of currency isn’t the real problem. The problem is that paying for a book commits one to reading it. Reading takes time. And time is priceless.
The real price of a book is the reader’s time.
We all know the process a potential book buyer goes through — Hmm, nice cover. Cool title. What’s it about? Sounds kinda interesting, but… Do I really want to read this? I already have 20 books waiting… Only 2.99. Well, maybe… someday.
“Someday,” meaning never. Another sale gets away.
Free books, on the other hand, are snapped up eagerly. Because they don’t involve a financial transaction, maybe they don’t register as time commitments? Some say free books are rarely read. But what about when the “price” is your email address? Are totally free books read more or less than those exchanged for contact info? Has anyone compared the two?
Recently, I read that a potential customer needs to be alerted to a product many times before they feel a need for it, as though an inherent resistance needs to be worn down. I don’t know about that — if a book’s cover, title, and description don’t appeal to me, repeated sights of it are irritating rather than inviting.
Maybe when a potential buyer is teetering on the brink, the sight of one more promo of the book creates the “Oh all right, I’ll buy it!” moment.
Advertising is a huge business, involving clever people with backgrounds in psychology and brain science. Some indie authors may decide to pay attention to these fields, but it’s unlikely that many have the resources to make practical use of such research.
So what’s an author to do?
If the reader’s time is the real price, one answer may be to write books that go down easy — quick reads with lots of action and stripped-down prose. Fifty thousand words priced at 0.99 may be more appealing than 100K words at any price. Especially if a glance at the first few pages shows multi-syllabic words woven into long, elaborate sentences.
I should have written this post before I wrote my books.
Nevertheless, all those
long books are available for FREE. Only until 11:59 p.m. Pacific Standard Time on January 1st, 2020. And only at the Smashwords store. Click HERE.