ASK PZM: March 2013 – Pricing

First Wednesday of every month, a few of us (over 300) participate in Alex J. Cavanaugh’s Insecure Writer’s Support Group blog hop. We share and encourage. We express our insecurities without fear of ridicule. Trust me, if you’re having a difficult time, IWSG is the hop for you. To sign up or find out more about IWSG, click here and follow the simple instructions. 

I know today is Tuesday… But because today is the 5th, it’s time for Ask PZM, where Phyllis Zimbler Miller answers marketing questions. I think it fits well with IWSG. Hope you agree.  Today’s subject is pricing.
Q:  Can you recommend pricing for a Kindle ebook?
Although I cannot recommend specific prices, I can share some information on pricing.
At this writing, Amazon for the U.S. site (other Amazon country sites vary) gives 70% royalties for ebooks priced $2.99-$9.99.  Lower or higher prices get 35% royalties.
(Why does Amazon do this?  Obviously the algorithms at Amazon have decided the 70% royalties price range is the sweet spot of ebook pricing for Amazon.)
If you control your own KDP (Kindle Direct Publishing) account – and you should, you can change the price whenever you want.
In addition, if you put your ebook on KDP Select (ebook exclusivity on Kindle for 90-day periods), you can have up to five free days in any configuration during each 90-day period.
Then there are the sites where you can list your book depending on the price.  Some sites focus on “bargain books,” whatever the individual site’s definition is of this.  Some sites focus on free ebooks.  Some sites have a range of ebook prices.
Here are some things to ponder:

 On Amazon do you have a physical book of the ebook?  You want to look at the relationship of these two prices.
2.     If your ebook is on KDP Select (the physical book does NOT have to be exclusive), the ebook can be borrowed for free by Amazon Prime members and you still get paid by Amazon a piece of the “borrowing” pie.  At this writing an Amazon Prime member gets to borrow one book free per month.  Might an ebook priced at $9.99 have more attraction to a Prime member than an ebook priced at $2.99?  (The Prime member gets $7 more “free.”)
3.     Does a higher price right before a book is free via KDP Select make the book’s free days more attractive?
4.     Does it make sense to make the book less expensive right after a successful KDP Select free-day promotion (success = tons of free downloads) to keep up the momentum started by the free days?
5.     When an ebook is first launched, does it make sense to make the price less expensive and then increase the price as the book garners good reviews?
Now before you feel completely overwhelmed, remember that there is no right answer to any of the above questions.  There may be better answers for certain books, but no one can know the best answers for all books.
Giving away books for free:
I know there are authors who are adamantly against giving away their books for free.  Yet unless the authors are world famous, I disagree with this stance. 
Giving away books for free to help attract interest in your books is a time-honored traditional publisher marketing technique.  (Years and years ago I worked for a weekly newspaper in Philadelphia and I got lots of hardcover books for free in the hopes of a book review.)     
Having first tried a free book promotion myself for my thriller LT. COMMANDER MOLLIE SANDERS, I have come to the realization that it is best, in my opinion, to do this via KDP Select.
By giving away your books for free via KDP Select, you are making a statement that your book has value and only via this special limited-time offer are you sharing your book for free.
Which still begs the question:  How much to price your Kindle ebook?
Perhaps one way is to look at the other books in your category.  What is the “competition” charging?  Does it make sense for longer books to be priced higher than shorter books?
Do fiction and nonfiction books have different intrinsic values?  Are people in general more willing to pay for an unknown author’s ebook on weight loss than for an unknown author’s spy thriller?  After all, one ebook could help solve a problem while the other is for entertainment.
If you have several books on Kindle, you might want to consider how the different prices relate to each other.  In other words, when someone looks at all your books on your Amazon Author Central profile, do the prices as a group make sense?  As I have both fiction and nonfiction books on Kindle, I do take into account these comparisons – see

The good news?  If you control your own KDP account, you do not have to write your book’s price in stone.  You can experiment with different pricing including seasonal pricing if your book “fits” a specific season.
P.S.  In honor of Women’s History Month in March, my 2008 Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award semifinalist MRS. LIEUTENANT, which takes place in the spring of 1970 during the Vietnam War, will be free on Kindle on March 6 and 7 at

Phyllis Zimbler Miller is the co-founder of the online marketing company and the author of fiction and nonfiction books, including TOP TIPS FOR HOW TO MARKET YOUR BOOK ON AMAZON AND FACEBOOK.  She blogs on author topics at and visit her Facebook Page at


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