Kindle Pricing Strategies: How to Price Your eBook for Maximum Success

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While hanging out in a Facebook group over the course of a few hours, I noticed this question asked several times: “How should I price my Kindle book?” The options for Amazon’s Kindle Direct Publishing system can be confusing unless you approach Kindle pricing from a strategic position.

The powers that be over at Amazon Kindle Direct Publishing are smart. They initially set up the KDP (Kindle Direct Publishing) program to sell competitively priced eBooks. They knew that if they put the power of pricing eBooks into the hands of the authors and publishers, they could end up with any range of prices. After all, eBooks on websites have been priced $97, and sometimes even higher. To keep people from running wild pricing eBooks way beyond their real market value, KDP decided to offer authors and publishers an incentive. And no incentive is as good as money.

KDP users can choose if they want to make 70% “royalty” (aka: profit per eBook sale) or 35% royalty. The catch is, to make 70% users must price their eBooks competitively—between $2.99 and $9.99. The lowest price of $2.99 keeps the content from being devalued, while keeping it at a no-brainer investment for consumers. Anything lower than $2.99 and many consumers begin to wonder if the content inside is worth it, unless the description of the eBook states the eBook is unusually short (30-60 pages).

So why would anyone want to price outside that magical range of higher profit margins? Because sometimes the content demands it.

Lead Generation

Kindle books used for lead generation are usually short, powerful bursts of information. They’re typically priced between 99 cents and $2.99, due to their shorter length and ability to capture people onto the author’s list for future follow up. Lead-generating eBooks have a call to action inside them (sometimes in several places) designed to entice the reader to visit a website for an extra free goodie—typically something only available to Kindle readers.

For example, my lead-generating eBooks have a call to action to receive a free webinar via a clickable URL. Readers who wish to access that extra free gift visit the website (either on their reader device or at a computer) and opt-in to my list to receive the webinar. I have that opt-in page hooked up to an autoresponder system like Aweber that automatically adds them to my e-zine list and a system of messages designed to continually educate, inspire and reach them with more content. This system creates a level of trust so when the few sales announcements come across their Inbox, they’re more likely to view them than hit the delete button.

With the 99-cent price point I set my lead-generating Kindle books at, it’s a no-brainer for people to purchase the eBook and it’s an easier sell for them to sign up for my additional free webinar.

Core Content

Core content books are those that are meant to be read, devoured, notated and referenced. They’re the books you’d see in the business section of a bookstore. These books typically start their lives in print, and then get released in eBook format. They’re the types of books people buy to learn as much as they can about a specific topic. They include a lot more meat than just the main points about a topic.

These are the eBooks priced between $2.99 and $9.99. They’re considered “trade” titles—mainstream topics that may have a lot of competition, but sell well anyway as each book covers parts of topics not covered by other books on the same subject.

Specialty Books

Specialty books include textbooks and niche books on specific topics like SQL programming. The tighter the niche, the harder it is to find quality information, so the higher the price can be. Specialty books are seen priced at $14.99 or even higher. I’ve even seen some eBook format textbooks selling for almost $200. At those prices with no print cost, a 35% KDP royalty isn’t too shabby compared to 70% of a $9.99 book.

Fiction

Fiction is weird. I’ve seen novels priced at $2.99 and $14.99. Other than the name of the author, there’s no difference in variety of fiction. I would recommend for unknown or first-time authors, fiction be priced closer to $2.99. For authors who have built a platform of followers and know they will sell thousands of books based off their existing cult following, a higher range of pricing closer to $9.99 will work.

 

Traditional publishers of fiction will put previous books on sale for a lower price (or free) when the next book in a series is released by a popular author. This drives more sales for a short time and also brings more attention to the latest release.

 

I hope this detailed description of pricing strategies for Kindle helps you set a price that works for your readers and adds more money to your bank account. I’d love to hear what you think about Kindle pricing strategies in the comments below!

Kristen Eckstein
Kristen Eckstein is a highly sought-after publishing authority, multi best-selling author and award winning international speaker who has started over 50 publishing companies and published over 170 books and e-books. In Fall 2013 she challenged herself to write and published a new Kindle book every week for 18 weeks straight.
Kristen Eckstein
Kristen Eckstein
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Comments

  1. Kristen, thank you, this was excellent. I’m a newbie writing my first non-fiction ebook and didn’t want to overcharge, or undervalue and this will definitely help…thanks again!

  2. I have 25 books in the “No Hogwash” collection so far. I have sold them from $2.99 to $9.99 and haven’t seen much of a difference in the number of books selling at different price points. Since, all of my books in this collection are in a collection, people will often by more than one. These books are definitely a bargain at this price.
    Michael Irvin
    http://www.michaelirvin.net

  3. A six thousand word short story at 99c was priced too low to make a profit. A collection of three at 1.99 seemed right to attract readers. I thought the collection at 2.99 might be too high for an unknown. (Steven King has a short for 99c called Throttle)
    Comments?

  4. My second mystery, part of a series, will be released this spring. I planned to discount the new book, with the thought that most mystery readers like to read a series from the beginning and will also buy the first book at full price. You recommend the opposite. In the case of mysteries, am I on target or not?

  5. Thank you! This was a helpful read and I’m glad to see that your advice is in line with how I recently published a book on Kindle. I also published a short story under a pseudonym for $0.99 and was surprised to see that I have already gotten organic sales with no promotion.

    I agree with you that they Amazon folks are smart and they’ve created some interesting game theory problems around pricing that will be fun to experiment with.

  6. We are closing in on new pricing. Maybe we will try all books at $.99!

  7. Great advice, thanks for sharing! I’ve never seen ebook pricing strategies by content area before – that’s smart.

  8. This is a good presentation of varied situations where it may be a good idea to price low vs. high. Too often, some authors take positions that are too rigid one way. But the best position is to really be flexible and analyse your decision and adjust it as needed overtime.

    Thanks for sharing!

  9. Hi … just wondering what you would say is the range for a book of poetry encompassing 30 years of work.

  10. Hi Kris
    I don’t think I made my question clear. Sorry.
    I just put the third in a series of 99c detective short stories on Amazon.
    Should I wait a while to put all of them in a collection at 2.99 or should I put up the collection immediately?
    thanks.

  11. Demetrius says:

    Hi Kristen
    I have put a series of related short stories on Amazon for 99c I think I will wait and then put the three in a collection for 2.99 Put the third short story up two days ago.
    Is there a length of time I should wait for putting all in collection?
    thanks

  12. Incredibly Kool info Kris’,
    Questions:

    1. How can one optimize your teachings with an existing (or soon to launch) sales page whereby folks go in and download the eBook and also get a free copy of my CreateSpace book as well as receive a code that allows them to access software were they can create their own menu? That’s a finger-full but, trust it makes sense?

    2. How can one include affiliate links within fiction books? I can see how non-fiction info books works but, a bit perplexed as to how to manage for tales. My book is a health and political conspiracy thriller.

    3. Is there a tutorial on how to do what you mention in your blog post? For example, how to back-link and use the tech features in Amazon…a step-by-step guide so-to-speak?

    • Hi Bill – good questions! Here are some answers:

      1. What you’re talking about is some in-depth back-end sales strategies. There are a lot of options, and if you’re interested in having some hand-holding in that area, I do offer coaching as this would be an ongoing process to set up and implement.

      2 & 3. Funny you should ask – I answer this question in-depth (as well as many other ways to make money with fiction on Kindle) in my new Kindle book “Author’s Quick Guide to Making Money with Your 99-Cent Kindle Book.” And yes, it’s a step-by-step guide to back-linking inside your Kindle book to generate more revenue (you can get it at http://KristenOnAmazon.com ). As for Amazon’s systems like the four for one strategy, you can’t control that directly – it’s all on Amazon’s database. The more books you publish, the more likely they are to feature your titles in their internal marketing systems.

  13. Hi
    One author priced the first book in the series at 99c The second and maybe third in the series was priced higher. (I read it was one book split up, not three books) This looked like a good strategy to me, so I dropped my 2.99 ” first” book in the series to 99c. The second coming out later will be 2.99
    How does this sound to you?

    • Interesting idea. Let us know how it works for you!

      • I should explain that I am not referring to the short stories I mentioned earlier when I tell about the 99c then 2.99 plan. I am referring to a longer work of mine.
        I am planning to do the short stories in the way that you wrote as that makes sense to me also.
        You seem to have no criticism or problem with the plan for the longer work since you said its “interesting.”

  14. Kristen -

    I have a question about the last example you cited above: Strven James book, The Queen. You pointed out that the “book is on sale due to a book in the series being released.” How does one go about setting up something like that. I cannot find anything in my kdp account that even gives me a clue. Thanks!

  15. Demetrius says:

    I forgot to add that the two stories I have on Amazon are six thousand word short stories, so cannot be priced more than 99c
    I wanted to put the third in the trilogy with the other two already on Amazon and charge 2.99 for higher royalty.
    Thanks.

    • Hi Demetrius,

      Why not do both? Have each book available for 99 cents and then the compilation of all 3 at $2.99? You’ll still be making a higher royalty off the collection than people buying each book individually, and the individual ones are still available if people only want to buy one. :)

      ~Kristen :)

      • Demetrius says:

        thanks Kristen
        That sounds smart. Another question. Would three at 99c by itself add up to Amazon profits ?

        • Hi Demetrius,

          I’m not sure what you mean. You already have one book with Amazon KDP at 99 cents, so you know how much each one will make you at their 35% royalty.

          • Demetrius says:

            When Joan Rivers said “He can’t count to 21 unless he is naked,” she was referring to me.

            I was thinking that three 99c books at that royalty, adds up to about a dollar in royalties. Wait. Let me take my clothes off.

  16. I just wrote a musical that I want to self publish as an eBook until I get someone to produce it. I have no idea what to charge. I am self-published and traditionally published already.

  17. natasha says:

    This info was quite useful, I’m finding what to price my ebook at a difficult question to answer, I guess quite cheap because it is short, about 27 pages, and my first book. Also on the page amazon says it is approx. 20 pages which I’m sure doesn’t help, if people think the book is even shorter than it is.

  18. I stumbled upon your site, this is great information. I just finished having my book being edited. I am currently struggling how much to charge. How much should I charge if the book is around 100-150 pages? I find it confusing how much to price it.

    • Hi Mary,

      I hope your book is up and selling! I hope this article helped you figure out a price range to set. The best thing to do is test. With Kindle you can change the price whenever you want, so test, then change, then test again. Good luck!

      ~Kristen :)

  19. Shouldn’t authors also figure in a certain amount for advertising costs? I used to work for a print publisher, and the editor there told me to figure one fourth of retail as the amount budgeted for advertising. It was the same amount as the printing costs. But since there isn’t any printing costs, except maybe converting the file, and you don’t have a print run of 2,000 copies, then how does an author figure out how much to spend marketing and advertising the book? That amount should be figured into how much of a royalty they want to get.

    • Hi Paula,

      This post is about pricing the book, not how to budget the percentage of what you make off it. That’s a great idea for another post, though, as many authors have no idea how to budget their book profits! Thanks for the idea!

      ~Kristen

  20. Pricing a book is always something that I have always agonised over, so obviously I found your blog topic very interesting and helpful.

  21. How do you feel about pricing books ending in odd numbers like .27 or .46, etc? Does Amazon care how you price your book if you use numbers like that?

  22. Such a timely topic. I will soon be launching my book on Amazon and Kindle KDP soon. I am going to launch the e version of my book for $9.97. I believe in it’s value plus it comes with a downloadable workbook.

  23. I’m in the process as we speak on setting my ebook price for Kindle and did a Google search and found this site. I’m still not sure what to do but will probable set the price at $4.99. Hope that is good.

    Here’s some info on my book:

    Waiters, are you tired of working your butt off in restaurant after restaurant and never really making the money you deserve? Are you tired of not getting the tips you want? Tips of 20% or more on every table?

    So what are you going to do about it?
    This is the book you must have to earn more tips, bigger tips, tips that will change your life! Don’t you want that?

    Only by making your guests feel special, feel as if THEIR enjoyment is YOUR primary concern, will you make the big tips. All else is not important.

    http://earnmoretipsonyourverynextshift.blogspot.com

  24. Thank you for the tips! Question: what do you think about pricing for debut YA novels? Releasing my first book in march and trying to decide. A lower price point ($2.99) seems like it would fit the younger generation’s budget but I don’t want to devalue the book with too low a price.

    • Hi Jenny,

      I answered this under “Fiction” in the article above. :) As with everything, research what other e-books are selling for to your market and experiment with your own price points. Good luck!

      ~Kristen

  25. What about KDP Select Program? What strategy do you recommend for newbie authors? If we have 5 day to promote our ebook during 90 days, so how often should we give an ebook for free? Should we continue promoting at the next 90 days?

  26. Very well thought out article. I must confess, I have never purchased a .99 book – it’s like shopping in the bargain basement – never done that either. I’m sure there are some really fine books in that price range, I just have some sort of thing about buying at that end. In fact, when I published my first (nonfiction) book I was advised to price it low – new author and all that – so I priced it at $2.99 and sold squat. I increased the price to $7.99 all of a sudden it started selling!

    • Reminds me of Martha Stewart’s pies… She couldn’t sell any at $5 each, but at $25 each she couldn’t keep them in stock! It all depends on your target audience and the content inside the book. For higher quality or higher perceived value, higher price works better.

      • Demetrius says:

        Hello Kristen
        I have two fiction stories on Amazon at 99c each. Even though I once saw one of them was number one then two in UK Kindle store, very little profit.
        There will be a third book in the series. Instead of 99c should I put all three in a collection (including new story) and sell for 2.99 earning more royalty?

  27. Kristen, your 1st pricing strategy obviously works … just picked up 2 of your Kindle books (the timing is perfection in motion)!

    I LOVE the topic of pricing so it’s no surprise that I’m resonating with your take on different pricing strategies for different types of books. I’m a big believer in quality first, second, third and ALWAYS … and charging what you’re worth to reflect the value your offer.

    Okay, one last thing Kristen … brilliant how you’ve illustrated the bigger picture marketing strategy behind Kindle books! Very well done. It worked!!

    Miki xo

  28. Kristin – thanks for a great article. I was wondering what your thoughts are about Amazon doing discount pricing on their own, and not really letting the author/publisher know they are doing it. I am not sure it is a bad thing—just curious about your thoughts and if you know how they decide what to discount and how much.

    • Hi Ruth,

      Unfortunately just like people who make clothes can’t control what Kohl’s puts on sale and when, Amazon is the same way. Usually the discounts come out of their cut, not the author’s. You make the same amount of money no matter what they sell it for, so if sales help people decide to buy your eBook, that’s a good thing!