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WritersServices Self-publishing Guide 8

Help for writers

Ebooks - Pricing Strategies for Indie Authors

Joanne PhillipsNever has price been a more essential factor in the success or popularity of a particular title. With prices for ebooks ranging from completely free to upwards of £6/$10, ebook pricing is a minefield for the indie author.

Amazon's KDP platform sets a minimum price for the titles of indie authors. At the time of writing this is £0.75/$0.99, and it doesn't look set to change any time soon. Traditional publishers wanting to have a competitive edge fare better with Amazon - there are many titles priced as low as 20p, which obviously have the advantage with visibility. Pricing your book so low it is practically free is a clever strategy - but before we look at that, let's consider free ebooks.


A couple of years ago, setting your book to free for a short period (one of the benefits of Amazon's KDP Select programme) was a sure-fire way of gaining post-free visibility in the Amazon charts, and often had the after-effect of increased paid sales, at least for a while. Then Amazon changed their algorithms and now this is no longer the case. Books which do best at free tend to be the first in a series, novellas or novelettes, and short stories. To set your book to be permanently free on Amazon you need to upload it to another eretailer, such as Smashwords, and set the price to free. Amazon usually - but not always - price match the lowest price the book is available for elsewhere.


The downside of the free charts is that Amazon doesn't make them as visible as they used to. Many publishers now set their popular books to ‘virtually free' - often as low as only 20p. This results in huge downloads, ranking the book high in the charts - importantly, the paid charts, not the free ones.

As said earlier, the cheapest price point available for self-publishing authors is currently $0.99, which is not particularly competitive, although some authors in certain genres do well at this price. The downside, of course, is that Amazon only give a 35% royalty at $0.99, instead of the 70% royalty at higher price points, so you do have to sell almost 3 times as many books at the cheaper rate to make it worthwhile. The other downside is that many readers equate value to price, believing that books which are cheap, or free, aren't as good as more expensive titles.

Average to Expensive

Pricing a book effectively depends to a great extent on perceived value. New books by famous or popular authors can justify ebook prices at the highest end of the scale, while new books by lesser known authors cannot. Older books, which have been out for six months to a year or more, don't do as well at the average price point of £1.99/$2.99 either. Many authors operate a sliding scale.

Here is an example pricing strategy (UK prices): A new title is published and priced at £2.99 to capitalise on keen existing readers; 3-6 months on, a promotion is run on this title, either at free or reduced to 99p; after the promotion, price is reduced to £1.99; 1 year on, price is reduced to £1.50.

For many, it's simply a matter of trial and error. Monitor your sales at different price points and don't be afraid to experiment.


WritersServices Self-publishing offers a well-established assisted self-publishing service, as well as its highly-regarded copy editing and proof-reading services.

WritersServices Self-publishing Guide 1: What is self-publishing?

An explanation of self-publishing as it stands today, introducing the term ‘indie' and a brief overview of routes to market for indie authors.

WritersServices Self-publishing Guide 2

Choose Your Self-publishing Route

WritersServices Self-publishing Guide 3

EbooksDigital bookstore selling wide range of ebooks in 50 categories from Hildegard of Bingen to How to Write a Dirty Story and showing how the range of ebooks available is growing.: Formatting for Kindle

WritersServices Self-publishing Guide 4

How to format for Kindle

WritersServices Self-publishing Guide 5

Ebooks: Distributing to Other Eretailers

WritersServices Self-publishing Guide 6

Cover Design Know-how: Tips from a top designer on how to make your indie cover look professional and stand out from the crowd.

WritersServices Self-publishing Guide 7

Print on Demand for Indies

WritersServices Self-publishing Guide 8

Ebooks: Pricing Strategies for Indie Authors

WritersServices Self-publishing Guide 9

Marketing and Promotion for Indie Authors: Online

WritersServices Self-publishing Guide 10

Marketing and Promotion for Indie Authors:Offline


Joanne Phillips lives in Shropshire, England with her husband and young daughter. She divides her time between writing novels and freelance indexing. She's the author of commercial women's fiction Can't Live Without and The Family Trap, and the Flora Lively Investigates series of cosy mysteries. Can't Live Without was an Amazon top 100 bestseller in 2012 and her books regularly appear on category bestseller lists. Joanne blogs about writing and publishing at

Connect on:
Twitter: @joannegphillips

Other articles by Joanne Phillips on the WritersServices site:

The Business of Writing
The Ins and Outs of Indexing
How to Market Your Book Online