Using a Variety of Ebook Price Points to Build an Indie Epublishing Empire

TGIF, WG2E-Land!

We’ve cussed and discussed Ebook Price Points a bunch here on The WG2E. From going FREE with an Ebook (The First One is On Me strategy and Ridin’ The Free-Way) to the 99 Cent Price Point to Boxed Set pricing and beyond. (***Note: If you’re new to The WG2E, you can search for any of those key terms on our site and pull up a variety of posts on each strategy.)

Now then…after just releasing my 29th product in my Indie Epublishing, multi-media empire – Cozy Cash Mysteries Boxed Set #1 (9 books for just $4.99), let’s take a look at Ebook Price Points from a new angle.

What can happen to your income using a variety of Ebook Price Points?


Here’s my pricing breakdown:

1 – FREE Ebook (my debut release – Bootscootin’ Blahniks – is FREE on all platforms all the time, since September 2011…I call it my First One is On Me strategy)

13 – 99 Cent Ebooks

3 – $1.99

8 – $2.99

1 – $4.99

3 – Audio Books (from $13.96 – $24.95…prices set by Audible)

With this pricing point variety, I’m not only pulling in an average of $5,000 per month (some months three times that, others a little under that), I’m also continuously attracting new readers – approximately 5,000+ new readers per month.

Here are my theories as to why Ebook Price Point Variation works:

1. Using my FREE Ebook, I gain around 5,000 new readers per month. That’s the number of people who download just that one book each month. And, most readers new to my D. D. Scott-ville world begin with the book that started it all for me and introduces many of the characters who are still going strong in my 29th release.

2. Once I’ve hooked those new readers with that First One is On Me strategy, I make it a Snickers Bar price point (or the price of a cup of coffee at McDonalds) to keep on reading my books with all of my 99 Cent Ebooks. (***Note: The 99 Cent price point keeps most of my books high up in the sales rank algorithms on most platforms because that price point still moves a ton of Ebooks/downloads. It’s still great for visibility as are my $1.99 titles.)

3. I price my non-fiction, on-writing books at $2.99, which is still about half the price of what most peeps charge for Indie Epublished non-fiction and waaay under Tradipub non-fiction prices of $9.99 and up.

4. I’ve done 3 Boxed Sets now, treating my readers to another huge price break if they go right from my First One is On Me to the complete set of any series. My Boxed Sets are priced between $2.99 and $4.99, for between 4 books and 9 books. (***Note: Boxed Sets are my museum gem quality fortune makers – averaging between $100-$200 per day.)

Basically, what you want to try and do is balance your price points so that you’re getting both great visibility (which the lower prices and the bargain priced Boxed Sets  give you) and great income (each price point at $2.99 or above gets you the 70% royalty versus the 35%).

There you have it…Using a Variety of Price Points to Build an Indie Epublishing Empire that can give you a fabulous yearly income!!! :-)

Share with us your thoughts on my pricing strategy as well as let us know what you’re doing to use Ebook Price Points to balance out both Visibility and Income…

The Best of Ebook Pricing Strategy Wishes — D. D. Scott

D. D. Scott is an Amazon and Barnes and Noble Top 100 Bestselling Romantic Comedy and Humorous Mystery Author. She’s also a Writer’s Go-To-Gal for Muse Therapy and Indie Epublishing, the Co-Founder of The WG2E- The Writer’s Guide to E-Publishing, and the Founder of The RG2E – The Reader’s Guide to E-publishing.  You can get all the scoop on her, her books, her Online Classes and Live Workshops, plus juicy tidbits too from her new cyber home…D. D. Scott-ville.

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Comments

  1. Great idea about making the first book in the series free. Obviously 99 cents is working well for you. It’s not a strategy that would work for me; not only are most of my books unrelated rather than being series, but they are longer works, 90K or even 100K or more, which I can’t in good conscience offer at that price. My lowest priced books are my backlist titles, which I’ve priced at $3.29. My others range from $3.49 to $4.79. I just wrote my shortest book yet, 65K (in just 90 days!) and will price that at $3.99. This is the conclusion of a trilogy featuring three friends, and I will be offering a 3-book bundle for $9.99 ($11.77 if bought separately), and am rather excited about that. I don’t know (wish I did) if people are buying my lower-priced backlist titles and are then spurred into buying my others, but I’m comfortable with what I’m doing…and that stands for a lot!

    • D.D. Scott says:

      You are sooo right, Bettye…it’s all about being comfortable with what you’re doing. That’s all that matters at the end of the day! :-) If you feel good about every decision you’re implementing then that’s the way to go.

      If, however, you’ve still got that “what if I…?” goin’ on, it might be time to try something new. The great thing about Indie Epublishing is that we each have the power to make those kinds of decisions.

  2. Paula says:

    This post and further exploring the blog for “boxed sets” totally blew my mind. LOL

    Firstly, I’m fairly new to the blog here and I want to say how much I’ve been enjoying the reading…fabulous and inspiring. Thank you! :)

    I currently have 2 6-book non-fiction series (weight loss and self-help) up and also one other related book. They are all pretty short and I have them each set in one bigger compilation book.

    Feel free to remove my author page link if not allowed but I will include it here as reference.
    http://www.amazon.com/author/pseymour

    A few questions/thoughts:
    1. Do you think the bundle 3D image should be used for NF as well as fiction?

    2. Now you’ve got me thinking about different ways I might bundle the series and also maybe the 2 series mixed together in different ways as the 2nd was written with the first weight loss audience in mind. Would this make sense?

    I’m all for maximizing my efforts. :)

    Thanks very much!
    ~ Paula

    • D.D. Scott says:

      Welcome to The WG2E, Paula! We’re thrilled you’ve found us!!!

      I do think the 3D Boxed Set images really pop on the screen for readers! Many of them have told me that! It instantly tells them they’re getting more for their money than just one book. ***Note: That said, you do have to have a 2D Cover too, if you’re distributing through Smashwords, because some of the channels they distribute to won’t take a 3D cover.)

      I would certainly combine them in one large set too! Especially if you’re trying to attract the same audience for both sets! It’s also a great way to bump your royalty margins with a higher-priced product while still treating your readers to a price break from purchasing each separately.

      U Go, Girl!!!

      • Paula says:

        Thanks so much! I am only on Amazon – and I already have the bundles at 9.99 each which is the cap for 70% royalty, so I don’t thing I should bundle more at a higher price, do you?

        I guess my new idea was that I could maybe also offer them in different combinations of 3 books – for less than the 9.99.

        I’m definitely going to think about doing the 3D cover as opposed to the one I have.. Thanks again. AND happy to be here!

        • D.D. Scott says:

          What I would suggest, even if you only feel comfortable doing it for a limited time, is lowering your price to between $2.99 and $4.99. That seems to be a real sweet spot for Boxed Sets. Even though the price is lower per unit, you might sell enough extra in quantity at that lower price to make up for the higher price point per unit at a higher price.

          And I definitely wouldn’t go above $9.99. Even the TradiPubs (traditional publishers like Harper Collins, Penguin, etc.) are figuring that out now and experimenting with lower prices.

  3. Julie Day says:

    I love your price points, DD. I put my first short ebook as free back in Jan 2011 after reading you did it and got results. Like you, I get new readers every month now. Not as many as you but enough. I have found that I get more from Amazon than SW. Christmas was a good time for new readers for me on Amazon.

    • D.D. Scott says:

      Excellent news, Julie! And thanks bunches for sharing! I’m thrilled this is working for you!!!

      I’m not sure what’s going on at Smashwords lately, but I’m not impressed at all with a lot of the things they’re doing (not doing). It’s as if they’re not growing with the industry. And, they have got to do something about their clumsy reporting features and answering issues and questions in a timely manner.

  4. Excellent post, D.D.! You were the one who inspired me to make a box set for my books, Carpe DiEmily, Parts 1 & 2 (romantic comedy) and Into You (humorous mystery), and the box set is one of my bestsellers! I think it’s because it offers a $2.00 discount across-the-board to buy all books. I’ve also taken your advice and offered the first one free (Carpe DiEmily Part 1), and I’ve had amazing results. I recently raised my price on my two full-length books since I just released a new, shorter book, Fifty Shades of Fifty Shades of Grey (A Romantic Comedy / Satire) at a lower price, so we’ll see if the new price points affect sales at all. So far, your theory on having a variety of price points, as well as different products to choose from, seems to be working like a charm (as do all of your tips that I’ve tried!).

    Thank you for always offering such a wealth of advice. Can you tell I’m drinking the D.D. Kool-Aid? And it tastes delicious!

    • D.D. Scott says:

      I’m over the moon to hear the “D. D. Kool-Aid” is working for you! LOL!!!

      Go, Girl, Go!!!

      What we’re doing is treating readers with “great books for great prices”…and that’s always a win-win! It will also keep ‘em comin’ back for more!!!

      Each decision I make is always, at the heart, about finding something unique and out of the box that will make my readers jump over the moon with me.

  5. Rena George says:

    Hi DD, This blog just keeps on getting better. More great advice here on pricing strategies. I don’t yet have enough Ebooks up on Amazon to offer box sets – but I’m working on it.
    A point of interest – I can’t believe how many visits my blog has been getting from USA visitors since I started leaving comments here.
    Almost as soon as my free promotion for one of my gentler romances, Highland Heart went live, I had 50 downloads – all from the USA. It’s available at http://www.renageorge.com/blog for the next three days for anyone still interested. xx

    • D.D. Scott says:

      Fabulous, Rena! Welcome to The WG2E! As you’re finding out, we’re all very supportive of each other, and have a great time getting to know each other and helping each other any way we can!

      Have you joined our WG2E Street Team? Another terrific way to partner with your fellow WG2E Author friends to get the word out about you and your books!

      http://groups.yahoo.com/group/WG2EStreetTeam/

  6. Suzanne says:

    D.D., have you discussed staying exclusive to Amazon’s KDP program to use their free days, versus expanding to other platforms like BN.com, and Smashwords? I’m trying to make that decision, but concerned about losing KDP free days.

    • D.D. Scott says:

      We’ve done a ton of posts on Amazon’s KDP Select Program, Suzanne. Just enter that term in our site’s search field, and you’ll have all kinds of view points to consider! :-)

      I do NOT believe in using KDP Select because of the exclusivity requirement. I want to be available across all platforms all the time. But, that’s just my take on it, and it comes from the fact that I have HUGE audiences on Nook, Sony and a greatly growing Kobo readership that I don’t want to lose.

      Another thing to consider is that yes, KDP Select Free Days give you a temporary boost in sales and visibility. But…going FREE with one book across all platforms all the time – with my First One is On Me approach – can get you great visibility and sales for the long haul.

      • Suzanne says:

        Thanks for the insight, D.D.! I signed up for email delivery of this blog some time ago. I believe it’s must reading for indie authors. Thanks!

        • D.D. Scott says:

          You betchya, Suzanne!

          Glad to hear you’re getting our daily email too…well, daily unless Google decides otherwise. LOL! Sometimes, the weekend editions seem to run late I’ve noticed, but they always catch-up on Monday at least.

  7. Dale Amidei says:

    Thanks for blazing the trail, D. D. You continually prove that experience is the best theory. We’re blessed that you share yours with so many of us.

    • D.D. Scott says:

      You’re sooo welcome, Dale, and thanks bunches for the sweet shout-out!

      The transparency of the Indie Epublishing World – in other words, the fact that we can share with each other whereas in the TradiPub World it’s either against your contract or frowned upon – is one of the greatest benefits.

      We have sooo much to learn from each other here at The WG2E and beyond!

  8. Great post, D. D.! I think varied price points are definitely the way to go. Now I just have to create enough books to make it doable. Thanks for being an inspiration! :)

    • D.D. Scott says:

      Sure thing, Alicia! And no worries on growing your cyber shelf…just focus on one new book/product at a time, and you’ll get there quicker than you know it!

      One thing to consider on that too is it is all about new “products,” not just new books. What I mean by that is that you don’t have to write anything new to have a new product – take Boxed Sets for example and Audio Books. You can creatively package what you’ve already got and get them into new formats like Audio and increase your backlist even quicker! :-)

  9. Merry Bond says:

    Thanks for another great post, D.D. Did you see the All Romance ebooks report at Dear Author? They talked about how books have been selling on their site, including the price points at which people bought books. According to them, readers were leary of books priced both too cheaply and too expensively. This is the “just right” table of prices they suggested:
    • Short Stories: $0.00 – $2.99 per book
    • Novellas: $3.00 – $4.99 per book
    • Novels: $5.00 – $6.99 per book
    • Long Novels: $7.00 – $9.99 per book
    I tried to find the link at DA, but somehow couldn’t find it, but I copied and pasted the report into a Word document in case anyone is interested.

    • D.D. Scott says:

      Fabulous info, Merry, and thanks bunches for sharing! I did not see that report so will have to look for it!

      I do think we have to be careful with that kind of data though when it comes from a site vested in making money from Ebook Sales. It’s in their best interest, they think (which I don’t agree with long-term), to make readers pay more. See what I mean?

      Our Reader Polls at our sister site – The RG2E – show that readers prefer to pay up to $2.99 for an author that’s new to them and up to $4.99 for one they know and love. Length isn’t really a factor except when it’s a short story in which 99 Cents does seem to rule there.

      • Two things to note:
        - a lot of ARe books are from small press publishers
        - their greatest percentage of sales come from M/M books

        These are stories where readers are already pre-disposed to pay higher rates. Genre has a lot to do with pricing.

        Just my 2-cents worth. :)
        ~Kristine

        • D.D. Scott says:

          Excellent point, Kristine! Genre does seem to have an impact on pricing! For example, non-fiction is priced higher for that “expert opinion” element. I’ve noticed that historical seems to go for a bit more too…maybe because it has some of that non-fiction scoop in it too!

          And yep…small presses (and presses of all kinds – whether boutique or Big Six) all price higher because there are more hands in the pot to pay.

  10. Tom says:

    Empire? Jk Rowling has an empire. You have some books.

    • Jim Guigli says:

      Now, now. D.D. is our Empress. Therefore it is fair to say she has an empire. I would not go so far as to say it’s D.D.’s world and we just live in it, but I’m happy being a subject.

      • D.D. Scott says:

        You’re a peach, Jim! Thank you for the sweet shout-out! :-)

        We’re all traveling this Indie Epublishing together, and it’s a pleasure to share that journey.

    • D.D. Scott says:

      LOL…call it what you will, Tom!

      All I’m going to say is that making around $100,000 a year, and being totally self-made at that, and having multi-media products available, is an empire to me.

      Thanks bunches for piping in.

  11. Rena George says:

    Thanks, DD. That’s a great idea. x

  12. Jim Guigli says:

    Thanks D.D. — very interesting.

    Question: When you have a book like your BB that’s always free, not just on a schedule sanctioned by Amazon, etc., is there a cost to them that is passed on to you?

  13. LOVE this post…coming at a perfect time for me. It’s the clearest example of the need to “have product” in order to jump to that level of success we all want.

    I now have 2 ebook romances available on Amazon and have them both priced at $2.99 because I just couldn’t make a decision about pricing! Sales are very slooooooooow, but I have to be honest and say I’m not doing the promo I should….kinda wanted to wait and see. AND I’m having terrible trouble deciding exactly what to do next with promo….ACK!!!

    Here are my questions your post prompted (when/if you have time):

    1. On my Amazon dashboard report, I see “one sale on one day” for each ebook at the $2.99 price but marked at the 35% royalty rate, which is incorrect…my inclination is to point this out, of course, but does this sort of thing happen when an author changes price? Should I even bother for 1 sale each at the lower royalty?

    2. I was so pleased to see your free book continuing to gain new readers! My last 3 free days had over 10,000 free downloads plus over 20 reviews, which astounded me!, so I was hesitant to offer free days again…BUT now I’m thinking I should and that when my 2nd KDP Select time period runs out, perhaps it’s time to make this one available everywhere (eventually price matched for free at Amazon, right?). Keep it free?

    3. Because readers have asked, I’m also thinking of shifting gears and making that first ebook No. 1 of a new series and following the path of “first one free.” I’m beginning to see how I could create a series “after the fact.” Yes? Should I stop and take time to write or should I put my efforts into uloading my backlist (2 romances and 2 time travel historicals) and some new stories (women’s fiction novel and another time travel historical) that are somewhat ready to “go” (need covers and formatting, of course, which I do myself…plus I’m revising the backlist formerly print published ones to modernize and, well, I’m a better writer now, so they need it!).

    As always, DD, your advice is GOLDEN!! Would love your comments plus other fabulous authors reading this….

    Best,
    Janet Wellington

    • D.D. Scott says:

      Great questions, Janet. Let’s see if I can help you with them…

      1. Never be afraid to email Amazon and ask a question. I’ve found them to be responsive and timely in their responses. I have noticed on my reports from time to time that for some reason certain transactions are done at different prices. It may be that those sales you referenced were in countries that you can only get the 70% royalty if you’re in Select. Let us know what you find out…we can all learn something about this.

      2. Congrats on your FREE Days success!!! Every FREE download you get is another new reader you’ve gained! Luv that!!! I’m a huge believer in the First One is On Me across all platforms all the time! It is getting tougher to get Amazon to price match your FREE offering, but they are still doing it. It’s certainly worth a try to go for it across all platforms versus the exclusivity that Amazon KDP Select requires. You can’t build an audience on all platforms if you’re not on those platforms, right?

      3. Series are golden in my experience and for many other authors as well! And readers tell us they love them!!! I’d definitely go for that! And as for writing new material versus getting what you’ve already got done ready to go and out there…the answer is: Do BOTH!!! LOL! :-) Perhaps write five pages or so per day on your new project and work a bit each day on getting all of your other books out there too! I did exactly this to build my backlist…I had a ton of short stories that I reworked to fit with my new series and bunches of stories I’d started over the years that I reworked into full novels and novellas for my series. And those that didn’t fit, I used to start new series! I don’t believe in wasting anything I’ve written!!!

  14. Great post, D.D. I think having a variety of prices for our books is a good idea!

  15. Thanks, D.D. I have a quaestion about box sets. How do yo9u make them? Do you just upload a file with several books on it, or does (in my case) KDP have a way of combining books that are already published? Thanks.
    Robert Tucker

    • D.D. Scott says:

      Great question, Robert!

      Boxed Sets are simply created by you or your format person by combining the files for the individual books into one large file. Make sure you do a nice Table of Contents, so your readers can find each book easily.

      None of the platforms do this for you that I know of.

  16. CC MacKenzie says:

    Working for me too, DeeDee.

    And will follow everything you do. Just call me your stalker!

    Thank you.

  17. It’s funny, my worst seller is the one at 1.99. All my others $2.99 and higher sell 3-5x better. So unless it’s a really short story under say, 20k, I price my novellas at 2.99, shorter novels at 3.99, and then my one 100k+ novel at 5.99. Boxed sets are priced to give the reader at least one of the books for ‘free’, or if the series already contains a perma-free title, then the reader either gets a second one ‘free’ in the boxed set, or exclusive bonus content. So far it’s been working very well.

    The WG2E is daily reading for me. Always good info even if I don’t comment every day. :) Thanks DeeDee and to all the other contributors!

  18. JamieSalisbury (@JamieRSalisbury) says:

    Boxed Set? Best thing I ever did! Of course family members think I’m nuts offering five books for that low price. . .sign just don’t understand. LOL!
    I too have the same problem with 2.99 books being 70% and then 35% (in US) and Amazon does not respond.

  19. I’m intrigued by the boxed set idea. It looks worth pursuing. How do you do those three dimensional covers? Is this a do it yourself, or does someone do them for you?

  20. Thank you, DD, for all you do for other writers. I wonder how much of your 70% do you get after the download fees and any other fees are taken by Amazon? Thanks, DW