Mark Coker, founder of Smashwords, is good at looking at trends in the publishing (and epublishing) world. He speaks at important conferences on the subject. He is a champion of indie publishing, and not surprisingly, since Smashwords is founded on the demand for distribution of indie published ebooks. But I like the way he drills down into the data, analyses the trends, and gives independent authors pointers as to how best to price our books. Marketing can be summed up as Product, Price, Promotion and Place, not necessarily in that order, so it helps me tackle the issue of pricing.
This year he gave a presentation based on a sample of 120,000 Smashwords published books from April 2012 to March 2013. There are some interesting stats, and some useful stats. What I have to bear in mind that best-selling books are generally not in my genre. So that while it is the case for the sample he had, that longer ebooks perform better in sales terms than shorter ebooks, for children’s books it is generally held that shorter is better. I suspect this holds until a child gains sufficient confidence to get really stuck into a book. So I’ll ignore his data for the time being. I also thought the following figure was interesting.
I like to price my ebooks at the $2.99 mark because it seems to me to be a reasonable amount for a middle grade ebook. It is also a very popular price point, so reader expectations are possibly geared to that amount. What this graph shows is that readers are equally attracted, or not put off by, a price tag of $3.99. Compared with sales of ebooks priced $10, ebooks priced at $2.99 and $3.99 sell more than four times as many. Oh, and free ebooks ‘sell’ 92 times as many. But we don’t know whether they are read as avidly as when someone parts with money for them.
You can read all of Mark’s presentation (with a video too) at the link here. I think he makes some excellent points. The best point of all, though, is that however cleverly priced, ebooks won’t sell if they aren’t any good. The product has to be good. That is why reviews are so important, in my opinion. They help the casual reader decide whether it’s a good read, and they help me decide whether I’m writing a decent book, and what to change, if anything.
So Price, Product, Place and Promotion. I’m working on it.