The Novel Journey: Pricing

The Novel Journey: Pricing

As part of my Novel Journey, I have been researching the world of lesfic publishing as a whole. Marketing and business consulting is my day job so it’s second nature to me to explore and investigate the industry and ask questions. Recently, I’ve been looking at a key component of book buying and selling: price.

With technology thundering along at a blistering pace, the whole publishing industry has been shaken up and continues to go through massive changes. Nowadays anyone can write and publish a book and have it on the major distribution platforms within 2-48 hours. With this ease of creation and speed of distribution comes a high-supply, competitive market and with this comes many questions on price.

I’ve been crunching the numbers on the top 20 Amazon best sellers in the lesbian romance category and I’ve found some interesting facts.

Price Number of Books
$0.991
$2.992
$3.998
$4.993
$5.991
$6.991
$7.990
$8.991
$9.993

Obviously there is a lot of variety when it comes to pricing models, though interestingly a lot of authors pitch around the $3.99 mark.

The book for sale at $0.99 consists of 188 pages, while there are three books under this length in the $3.99 category, the lowest being 138 pages.

Meanwhile the $6.99 book has 219 pages while three books in the $3.99 category far exceed this.

In the top of the range, $9.99 category, the books stand at a meaty 240, 357 and 279 pages. But then there is a book of 599 pages in the $3.99 category, as well as 2 259 pages and 1 301 pages in the $4.99 category.

So, it seems there is little correlation between length and price. Bang for your buck does not necessarily exists in lesfic.

The question has to be, are we paying extra for quality? The answer is, as with most things, controversial and personal to each individual. Of the twenty books listed, 6 are published by publishers and the remaining 14 are self-published. Yes, the 3 $9.99 books are all publisher-releases, but interestingly the other publisher books are priced at $2.99, $3.99 and $6.99.

In fact, if you take an average cost of the publisher released books you would pay $7.32. If you take an average of the self-published books you would pay $4.41.

It’s interesting to see these changes and consider how decisions are made. While publishing books can be cheap and fast, it can also be costly and time-consuming. It all depends on the skill of the author, the team around them and the quality of the product they are willing to release.

I have seen self-published books that have professional looking covers and no mistakes throughout the book, conversely I have seen “professionally” published books with bad covers and filled with mistakes. I’ve also seen both in reverse. Self-published books with spelling mistakes on the cover of the book, and professionally published books that should be on a shelf in the local bookstore.

From my own experience, I know a lot about pricing. I know businesses that make just 2% profit on every sale they make, because they know that a low price will drive more interest and make more sales. Could a book that sells 400 copies at $8.99 sell double or even triple that if it was priced at just $3.99?

Would anyone be willing to try? Of course it depends on how much it cost to produce that book and where the break-even point is. It depends if the publisher of that book, individual or company, is willing to take the risk. Getting a return on your investment when you are selling books at a higher price comes quicker which means you can sell less and still make money. But if you’re confident in your product and in your marketing of that product then surely a gamble at a lower price is a good idea?

There is an extra layer of complication. Author royalties on professionally published books. Most contracts see authors receiving between 5%-15% of paperback sales as royalties. Selling a book at $9.99 means an author receives between $0.49 and $1.49. Selling a book for $4.99 slashes this to $0.25 to $0.75.

As an author, let me tell you that it’s pretty heartbreaking to see someone with a copy of your book and realise that you only made between $0.25 to $1.49 for that sale. Especially when you spent at least six months of your life writing, editing and marketing it.

Now is probably a good time to point out that I don’t have any answers to the question of price, simply more and more questions. Every corner I turn simply uncovers more questions and more, equally valid, points of view.

So I’ll throw this over you you guys, the readers. What do you think about lesfic prices? Is that an amount you simply won’t pay? Do you have a budget per book or a budget per month? What are you golden rules when it comes to price?

One thought on “The Novel Journey: Pricing

  • Its an iteressting question. I think as in a lot of areas the prices for books are influenced by the internet. I am a fanfiction reader, with this a discoverd that there are publishers out there who do lesbian books. Because back in the days when i was like 15/16 (12 years ago) i looked EVERYwhere to find a lesbian book to discover who i am and why i am different than others. I wanted storys about person who feel the same way i feel. But there were nearly non existing.
    With the internet coming as flat rate beeing so cheap and excessable for everyone it become more easy to find all the different stuff so i discovered fanfictions. There are so many storys to read for free but also to see the way of fanfictio writer becoming authors and im absolutly willing to support that i want to give back to the persons who wrote so many awesome storys because they just have fun doing it.

    For the price im willing to pay for a book..its hard to say im a person who doesnt buy too much books so if something really catches me if i see a really good introduction that makes me curios im willing to pay more for a good book (nice cover, well written and less errors – its hard when i as not nativ english person and bad at grammar finds mistakes).

    When i know about a book – like i did with yours – i knew the story i knew it would be totally what im interessted in reading than im absolutl willing to pay 9.99 or more.

    But in generell i think when i scroll around and read trough the short summary of books of cause when there are 10 interessting storys from writer i dont know i will probably have a second look at the cover and go with the book that is cheaper. Most ebooks i bought so far were around 5 $

    I guess what is a good way to do it right – i dont know but i would probably use a higher price at the beginning and make a discount from time to time because im pretty people are everywhere the same and i for sure whe i see something was more expensive before would buy when i see there is a discount on it at the moment 😉

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