Indie Authors: How to Price Your Book for Optimal Success!

by | Jun 30, 2016 | Bestseller Essentials, Book Marketing Basics

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Sometimes the simplest thing you can do to give your book a boost is to play around with the pricing.

It’s one thing to have a book and it’s quite another to have one that actually sells. You have probably heard this from other indie authors, or even experienced it yourself. Your book gets added to Amazon, full of pomp and circumstance, and then, nothing. It’s disheartening to see your hard work just sit there. But here’s the good news: this might be an easy fix.

Price Your Book to Boost your Book Marketing and Sales!

How you price your book is something we don’t often think of as a trigger for book promotion or how to sell more books, but it is. First, let’s look at two important factors. Your book’s perceived value, vs. the going market rate.

Look at other books: First and foremost, see what others are charging in your market. You may be surprised what you find out. It’s never a good idea to price your book outside of what the market can bear, even if you toiled over the book, worked endlessly, lost sleep, etc.

My book is worth more! Yes, I know. Your book is worth a heck of a lot more, in fact, if you add up all the hours you spent working on it, you probably couldn’t charge enough for it. Here’s the thing though: you can’t focus on your worth or your book’s worth – you have to focus on what the market will bear.

Consider the eBook: In general, I find that most traditional publishers don’t know how to price an eBook. I’ll see eBooks priced at $9.99 and up which is really a deterrent for most readers. As you build your author marketing plan, keep in mind that eBooks should not be priced equal to their print counterparts. Even pricing them within a dollar or two of a $14.95 book is too high. I have talked to the folks at KDP (Kindle Direct Publishing) about this and they’ve told me that their “sweet spot” for pricing (in terms of what they see gets the most traction on their site) is pricing between $2.99 and $5.99. Now while these numbers might horrify you, keep in mind that deciding to price your book to suit your market will actually help encourage a buy, rather than discourage it – sending your potential reader off to find a book more within their price range.

Price rotation: Now this is where the pricing strategy really gets interesting. When was the last time you changed the price of your book on Amazon? And I’m not talking about a price drop for an eBook promo, I’m talking about playing with your pricing. So, for example, I cited the price range of $2.99 to $5.99 and while you may disagree with it, why not give it a shot for a week or so? Changing your book price can help spike your exposure on Amazon, because it triggers the Amazon internal algorithm. Sometimes I work with authors who will shift their book pricing regularly, from $5.99 down to $2.99 down to $1.99 and then back up again. I would, however, be careful about doing this too much. You don’t want to be shuffling your book price two or three times in a week. Take a page from stores and how they run their sales. If you go into a department store, there is always something on sale, but never the same item priced differently three different times in a week. Ideally I’d look at playing with how you price your book once a month – more if you’re running an eBook promo that you’re advertising, which I’ll cover in a minute.

Free eBooks: I love free eBooks – and while a lot of people feel like giving away books doesn’t help book sales, I would have to disagree. I’ve seen it help book sales a lot if it’s used strategically. I would also recommend that you consider having something consistently free, like permafree which I’ll address below – or if you have several titles, keep them in a promotion rotation. This works really well when you have four or five books. If you decide to do a free promotion, know that despite the Amazon muscle behind a free eBook, you still have to promote it on your own, too. Try using hashtags, and also promoting it to sites like BookGorilla and Ignite Your Book. Doing even smallish paid advertisements can help out enormously.

Price promos: Whenever you do a downward price rotation, be sure to let your potential readers know you’re running a sale. If you have a Super Fan group, whether it’s a Facebook group or an email list, be sure to give them a heads up too. Whenever I reduce a price on a print or eBook, I always, always do a promo, even if it’s just a small one, to let folks know I’m running a sale.

Permafree eBooks: I adore permafree for the simple reason that if you have three or more books – having one free one can really boost the sales of your other titles – in some cases by three or four times what they were selling before. So what’s “permafree”? Well it’s an eBook that’s always free on Amazon. And while you can’t put a free eBook  onto the site itself, you can ask Amazon to price match it. Generally what I’ll do is recommend an author pick either their oldest book (as long as it’s still relevant and current) or the first book in a fiction or non-fiction series and make that book free. In order to do this, you have to publish it everywhere – and that’s easy to do with sites like Draft2Digital and Smashwords, just upload your book there and make it free. These sites will publish the book on Nook, iTunes, Kobo and anywhere else you indicate. Once the book is free on these sites let Amazon know by clicking the “tell us about a better price” link just under the book details on your Amazon page (note: sometimes it takes a few tries to get Amazon to recognize that it’s free elsewhere). Once the book is free you’ll begin to see it surging up the Amazon ranks (under free eBooks). Just make sure that there’s a simple page in the back of that book that invites readers to check out your other titles, and include links to these titles so they can easily find them.

As you’ve discovered over the course of marketing your book, so many factors come into play with author publicity and book promotion campaigns. Ultimately though, adjusting your book’s price can make a huge difference in your book’s overall sales. If you need a boost, or as you start looking at the things you’re doing to sell your book, consider revisiting how you price your book periodically. Bookmark this page so you can easily reference it as you continue executing your book marketing plan.


  1. Bill Wiley

    My book published by iUniverse is priced ridiculously high ($17.95 and should be $12). The publisher iUniverse will not change it even though the book is selling virtually no copies. Is there anything I can do? How do I warn other authors of this trap?

  2. Anthony Milligan

    I have a book “The Negotiator” on Amazon. The paperback is priced at £8:67 which I think is priced to sell yet I get a lousy .14 pence per sale at, allegedly, 70%. Is it worth the effort? Not in my opinion. I can’t understand what I’m doing wrong.

    • Penny Sansevieri

      Michael, hi. Thanks for reading. I know it can be frustrating to put so much time and effort in and not see the needle move. For what it’s worth, I’m not following your math as .14 pence seems significantly lower than 70% of £8:67. However, the right price is only part of the equation, and exposure is the number one thing you want to build; to do that, you may want to consider some ebook promotions that give you temporary price drops. I wrote this piece on things to consider before giving up that you might find really helpful: And if you’d like to set up some coaching or an assessment, reach out to me at



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