Home > Writing > So What’s The Right Price For Your Book?

So What’s The Right Price For Your Book?

It’s a raging war in some circles. Pricing, in general, has a lot of arguments, whether it’s for airfare, tickets to a sporting event, or selling a book. I’ve tried more than a few different prices myself, but I don’t claim to be an expert. John Locke believes it depends on the size of the market – he priced his Donovan Creed novels at $.99 each because he feels the volume will offset the lower price point. His instructional book about selling a million ebooks in five months he priced higher, since it had a smaller target market. Michael Hicks, a great science fiction / fantasy writer and a friend of mine, has his books priced higher since he found an optimal number to shoot for that balances sales with volume. Mike writes full time and has a family to support – I don’t blame him!

Other people feel the $.99 price point is low enough that anybody will risk a buck and, hopefully, they’ll like it enough to keep coming back for more. I admit I fell into this latter category with some of my books. In fact it was my hope to price the first book in each of my series at this point so I could get people in the door, then the quality of my work would keep them coming back for more. To a lesser degree it’s worked, but the remaining problem is exposure.

Even with a great cover, title, and blurb if nobody sees a book, they won’t buy it. So the trick, obviously, is to get it seen. There are a few ways to do this, but none of them are easy and guaranteed. Twitter has helped me out a lot and so has blogging, but those are just a couple of tools, not a key to success. The real trick is to get on an Amazon or Barnes and Noble best selling list, or at least sell enough to be listed beneath other similar books so people can have your book as an option. That takes time and sales though, something you’re starting out with little of.

If I had all the opportunities in the world I’d love to start off a new book with a horde of people ready to snatch it up, even if it’s only 20 or 30 (50 or 100 would be far better). That instant flux of sales would drive the book into the lists and make it available for others to see. Some reviews to post on it would help as well, of course. Between those two a book could possibly be launched into a successful happy place, and so long as the quality of the book is up there, it becomes successful. Maybe not retirement income successful, but it’s a start.

For me the right price turned out to be free. Yes, $0.00 on Amazon. I managed to give Wanted away and because of it, in 6 days I’ve “sold” over 14,00o copies of it. I haven’t made a dime off of them, but it’s spent the last 5 days occupying the #1 spot for free science fiction / adventure books on Amazon. I’m extraordinarily proud of that, even though it hasn’t fully sunk in yet. My other books are ramping up slowly, by and large, and selling more copies. The sequel to Wanted, Ice Princess, has taken off. It’s averaging 15 – 20 sales a day right now (at a $2.99 price), and has climbed steadily up onto 3 best selling lists. Five or six more of those and I’ll be able to start buying myself the really good coffee in the morning!

Mike Hicks, the guy I mentioned above, is doing something similar. The first book in his trilogy, “In Her Name: Empire” is free right now as well! This book is on the Amazon best selling science fiction / adventure list as well. We’re giving these away because we want the world to have a taste of what we have to offer. Why not give ’em a shot, you’ve got nothing to lose and everything to gain.

So yes, in addition to this being an informative post meant to help writers, it’s also self-serving in that I’m hoping you’ll go and check out Wanted and download it to your Kindle, tablet, or Kindle app for PC (which happens to be free). And why not help a brother out, it’s not going to cost you anything, after all! It’s got some great reviews and people think the characters are outstanding.


Wanted, book 1, by Jason Halstead

Wanted, on Amazon

Wanted on Amazon UK (not free)

Wanted on Barnes and Noble (not free)

Wanted on Smashwords (free)

To learn more about Jason Halstead, visit his website to learn about him, his books, sign up for his newsletter, or check out some free samples of his books at http://www.booksbyjason.com.

  1. November 29, 2011 at 11:14

    Great post Jason. Pricing is a problem that exercises all Indies. The price/volume equation is critical as you point out, but even giving books away is not easy. I worked for years to put together the 157,000 words of Gate of Tears, and giving it away free is hard for me to contemplate. I think it makes more sense when an author has a ‘back catalogue.


    • November 29, 2011 at 11:34


      You are so very right. I know I struggled trying to come to terms with the thought of giving it away. Then I finally made the switch in my head to realize that as personal and important as writing was to me, doing more than just writing meant I had to view it as a business. By more than writing I meant selling. I want writing to be my day job, but if nobody knows who I am and is willing to take a risk on me, why buy my books? This way I’m giving them not only a sample, but an entire book. It lets them see how I write and it tells them that I consider my readers very important – so important I’m willing to give them a part of myself with no obligations. Hopefully it builds up a little loyalty on their parts, although most readers don’t know what you and I (and other writers) go through to write and publish a book.

      And even if they don’t, I’m still loyal and appreciative to my readers. Without them there’d be no real point in writing. Sure I could still do it, but I’d have nobody telling me where I went wrong and what I needed to do to get better at it. Improving my skills at writing has made me more than just a better writer, it’s made me a better husband, father, and person as well.

      As for the back catalog, you are absolutely right! If you don’t have other books available don’t give away the one you do have! Having a series is definitely the key to this tactic, but even outside of the sequel it I believe it’s helping me out some. But hey, it’s only been a few days. I’ll be learning a lot more as the days stretch on and I try new things to let people know about my books.

      Thanks for the great comment,

  2. Kas
    November 30, 2011 at 09:50

    ***”In fact it was my hope to price the first book in each of my series at this point so I could get people in the door, then the quality of my work would keep them coming back for more.”***

    Worked for me!! I am new to the ‘World of Kindle’ and wasn’t even sure I’d like the thing! The reason I got it was to be able to access internet at home ( I live WAAAY out in the sticks and the only internet option is dial-up or satellite which is too expensive!!). So I found a deal on the Kindle and fell. Hard!

    I downloaded 10 books the first day- 5 free and 5 for .99. “Wanted” was the 2nd book I read and when I finished I did this: googled and searched Mr Halstead to find out more about him, send him a ‘Thank You’ email and order the next book in the series.

    I am also interested in several of the other titles he has out there and now that I know I like his writing style, I WILL be purchasing more (probably “Voices”, “The Lost Girls”, and “Human Nature”). ONLY because it is Christmas Time, I haven’t purchased yet. (watch out after the first of the year!!!!).

    I have also posted on Facebook and Twitter about this book as well as word of mouth.

    While I can understand not wanting to give away your blood, sweat and tears for free, Mr Halstead is correct in his hopes.

    Keep them coming!!!

    • November 30, 2011 at 10:04

      Aw shucks…so glad you liked it! I have to warn you though – Wanted was only my second published book. I’ve learned a lot about how to write and portray my characters better since then. Personally I feel that The Lost Girls may be the best book I’ve written yet.

  3. November 30, 2011 at 16:41

    Thanks for a very informative post, Jason. Although I have been writing for many years, I am only now planning to e-publish my sci-fi series, and this post really is helpful. Deciding on how to price a first novel is a dilemma, one which you have broached and appears to have benefited you greatly, and your post has made me think more carefully about how I broach that issuein the very near future.

    • November 30, 2011 at 21:17

      It’s no easy task, especially if you’ve got limited titles. One of the key secrets to writing success is to keep on writing. With multiple titles, provided they don’t suck, you stand a much better chance of making magic happen for you. Just having more available is crucial, but it also gives you more options to experiment with and promote!

      Best of luck to you WH – I hope to see you no the top charts soon!

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