How much would you pay for an RJ Scott book?

A few years back I talked about the thorny issue of price and perception of price and I see that the subject has been raised again in the MM Book rec group on Facebook.

In summary I mostly said the following:

Pricing in the ebook industry is an emotive subject, and as an author and a reader I can see both sides.

Perception of value. Does the purchaser equate the cost of a book with the cost of a coffee? Or are they using their last $3 to buy a book?

Either way, I said, as an author it is vital to be in that middle ground where people perceive your book as being good value. This could be as simple as setting the perfect price. Or as nebulous as understanding your own value as an author. 

I then explained how much someone would make on a sale

Self Published authors:

Sale price: $2.99
Amazon percentage: $0.90
Amazon download charges etc: $0.04
Income to an author who self publishes $2.05 per kindle book sold

(Authors with a publisher will have a smaller cut obviously)

Proviso, these are rough amounts, not specific, and there are differences along the line, not least of which are conversion rates on currency.

Setting a price

There are factors helping to decide on how to set a price. I can't talk for the publishers and how they set their prices but there are interesting questions to answer for the author who self publishes. There are whole discussions to be had on supply and demand, perception of value, whether your heart rules your head or the other way around and so on.

What is a book worth to the reader?

From my point of view as a reader, I have auto buy authors and I pretty much don't care what they charge, I will buy them. I have a perception of there being a 'good value' in the reading of anything they write, and I know these authors will deliver me a good story, a 99c price doesn't devalue them to me, and a higher price won't put me off.

The glut of the 99c book

Does an author selling their book at 99c makes more sales? Does this price devalue the book? Are people suspicious of content or quality? Is there in fact an actual price that people see which means they feel the book will be *good*? There are a lot of authors, both in our genre and outside, who successfully use the 99c price point. Especially when the 99c book is the perfect impulse buy for people to try out your writing. 

The problem with the 99c price point?  Taking my sale example from above and setting it to 99c and with the lower % from Amazon you'd have to sell 6 or 7 times as many books at 99c to make the same money as selling one book at 2.99.

Unfortunately for the MM genre (I can't talk for the MF and other romance genres - but I know this happens there as well) we can't trust a lot of the 99c books. Too many times the 99c books turn out to be scammers, farms, several authors writing under one name with wildly different quality, or just plain old plagiarism.

Don't get me wrong, 99c worked for me on my Crooked Tree Ranch book bub, but it was only for a couple of days and anyone who bought it would be able to see reviews. Hopefully they would  have a perception that others found it of a certain quality but that it was cheap for just a short time. A sale. A bargain.

How long does it take to write a book?

My answer to that is how long is a piece of string? Some authors write 3000 words a day, some more, some less, some write at weekends, for some it is a full time job.

But however long it took, at the end of the read, if you can shut your kindle and you have a sappy smile on your face, or you want to tell your reader friend you loved it, or you ugly cried, then love has gone into that book.

Not coercion to buy, not gaming the system, not pricing low to move borrow volumes in KU.


If I am lucky enough that it is a book of mine you read, that I have priced as fairly as I could, then thank you for spending your money on my words.


  1. Love your books regardless and I think that 99 cents is too little except when you do a flash sale for a day or two. Otherwise, you are cheating yourself. You work hard for your creativity and deserve to be rewarded as such.

  2. For certain author I will pay as much as 10.00-12.00. You are one of those authors because I know I'm going to get my money's worth. Love you and your talent.

  3. Honestly, I don't look at the price too close when its an author I enjoy reading. I will get year of enjoyment from a single purchase as I tend read them numerous times, but I think they should be priced on the # of pages. Most books I buy are usually priced at 3.99 or 4.99.

  4. I put a long answer on Facebook but I'll comment on the 99c book. Normally, I wouldn't buy unless I knew the author. However, if they were an established author with reviews and it's a series, it's a 'hook', a good marketing strategy. To tempt a new reader to try, who'll then be more likely to purchase the rest of the series, is a means to a profitable end. The other reason for a low price is to tempt (numptys like me) with re-released and /or edited books. I've repurchased these types of books... *looks at the pretty new cover of 'Elements of Retrfit*...

    1. If i re release books with new covers etc I give the new copies away free :)

    2. For authors I know and love I don't mind paying more.
      I do like the 99c sale option for unknown authors or maybe a first book in a series, but I am wary regarding quality of a book, if the standard price is 99c.
      Often times they are not edited so good, or have lots of typos.
      Often times I look up the book on Good Reads for some input.

  5. I buy favourite authors whatever the price. As an author I publish with a publisher and I get nothing like these rewards. I also believe my publisher charges way too much for paperbacks but have to accept this when using their service.
    I use a publisher because I wouldn't have the first clue on how to self publish.
    However my ebooks are around $3/4 so somewhat average I think

  6. I would buy an expensive book at 30% or 40% off before I would buy a 99c book.