On Pricing eBooks
Working Out the Process
Marketing lets people know your product exists, and effective marketing makes people think that they need your product enough to part with good money for it. Marketing has been so effective that millions of us are stuck with too much stuff. Some of the stuff really is good, but sorting it out from the junk is enough to turn many of us off of stuff altogether.
How many times have we seen “launches” for ebooks, classes, guides, and consultations, with pitch pages designed to hypnotize us into having a need we didn’t know we had before, and tweet after tweet reminding us there’s only so much time to get the product at a discount, etc.? It is the standard way of doing things; I’ve done a bit of it myself, and so have many of you, following the guidelines suggested by those who had some success with it. We do it because we put some work into crafting our product, and we need to eat just like anyone else. Or it is someone else’s product that we like and we’re happy to be affiliates.
This blog has about 1,000 subscribers, and in theory I should be able to convert a percentage of those subscribers into buyers for anything I produce for sale. My cookbook is still selling, and I still do a little dance of gratitude every time I get the email that one has sold. But now it is several months since that one came out, and the online publishing landscape has changed.
Ebooks have dropped in price, online courses are not getting filled, quite a few blogs have shut down or changed to a paying format, and some authors have either removed their ebooks from availability or–and this one frosts my cookies–they have actually raised the prices of their older ebooks. Most, however, seem to be putting their books on Amazon or Kindle, the latter in the $.99 range. Ninety-nine cents. I remember when kids were offered serious money to write somebody else’s term paper. Does that even still happen, or do kids just buy a $.99 ebook and lightly rewrite the parts they need?
The Minimalist Woman’s Guide to Having it All is in the last stages before publication, which is slated for June 14th. I had originally intended to publish it about two months ago, but some other things had to be sorted out around that time and it seemed best to follow my intuition and not publish until I felt the book was as good as I could get it.
I wanted to write an ebook which “belonged” with this blog, and to be all original content. It’s around 50 pages long in its PDF form, and I consider it a strategy guide more than a strict how-to book, with chunks of manifesto thrown in. If you enjoy my wordiness, you’ll probably enjoy my book. It is both philosophical and actionable, covering the related topics of shopping, marketing, accumulating stuff, getting rid of stuff, and sorting through the cultural and mental stuff that comes from all the other stuff.
Books of this ilk have been priced between $12 and $29 over the past year or so. The prices have been coming down, thanks in no small part to a saturation of the market and the impact of Kindle on the pricing of ebooks. Now, a short nonfiction ebook is lucky to pull anything over $5. If you are a writer, this means you need to sell a crapload of ebooks to buy a month’s groceries, let alone pay the rent or the electric bill. It’s simple enough to put a book out there in the big world, but not so simple to get anyone to pay attention to it amidst a zillion other books.
Then there is the whole accountability thing, and the ultimate valuation of your work. I really have a problem with most forms of marketing, and I know that many of you do, as well. I write about it at length in my book, too. I like to make money as much as the next person, but I also want to be realistic. I put great value on my work, but I also want to get my work out there to as many people as possible. So I’ve done some thinking about this whole process and want to do something a little different, but very much in the spirit of this blog, my readers, myself, and my ebook.
The Minimalist Woman’s Guide to Having it All will be available as a free PDF right here on this site. I am going to put up a separate Donate button, and the suggested amount will be $3. You can donate Kindle-style at $.99, or bookstore-style at $29. You can donate even if you just want to show the love. But in the spirit of sharing the kind of thinking I do on this blog, the book itself will be free, with no strings attached, not even your email.
Next: On Pricing eBooks, Part 2
As always, your thoughts on this topic du jour are welcome–what do you think of ebook pricing these days?