How do I price my ebook?
The Long Answer: Pricing is driven by supply and demand. They pull against each other to determine the product’s price, whether it’s petroleum, milk, or your ebook. Within the tension between supply and demand, there are elastic and non-elastic prices.
The classic example of non-elastic demand is electricity. Regardless of the cost per kilowatt, you’ll use about the same amount of electricity. If the price of electricity takes a jump, you’ll probably try to turn out lights when you leave a room, but you’ll still use your heater and your refrigerator. Most of your appliances will keep using electricity.
The non-elastic equivalent in publishing is textbooks. College professors require you to buy certain textbooks, and the price of the book doesn’t determine how many copies sell. It’s relatively inelastic, which is why textbooks sometimes cost several hundred dollars.
If you’re wondering how to become less elastic and create a non-elastic demand for your books, you’ll need to build a strong brand. My demand for Brandon Sanderson’s books is relatively inelastic. I want his next book, and I’m willing to pay quite a bit to have it. I’m a huge fan of his writing, and if another author offers me a cheaper book in the same genre, it won’t change my mind. I want Sanderson’s book.
Top-name authors can charge more for their books because they have strong brands. If you’re a fan of Stephen King, you don’t want a book that’s $5.00 cheaper by another author. You want Stephen King’s book.
Different places you can sell your ebook
Choosing the right platform for your ebook can make a huge difference to your ideal pricing—and how much you’ll take home at the end of the day. Here are a few platforms you can sell your ebook on and how they affect your ebook pricing—and your revenue.
1. Your website with ConvertKit Commerce
Everything from your website and social media to your ebook landing page and checkout page can match, just like it does for SistaSense, a community and mentorship for female entrepreneurs:
The on-brand ebook landing page made with ConvertKit Commerce. Image via SistaSense
Most importantly: you keep all the money that your customers pay for your ebook! With ConvertKit Commerce and a ConvertKit Free plan, instead of getting 35% or 70% of the ebook’s revenue, you are only charged a 3.5%+30c transaction fee for each ebook you sell. That makes ebooks sales a more reliable income stream.
2. Amazon’s Kindle Direct Publishing
The Kindle Direct Publishing platform. Image via Amazon
Selling your ebook on Amazon is certainly less than ideal. On top of only getting a fraction of your ebook’s revenue, you’re also relying on Amazon’s algorithm, emails, other books on similar topics on Amazon, and other factors out of your control. You have no influence over how Amazon promotes your ebook and how visitors interact with it.
3. Google Play Books
The Google Play Books shop. Image via Google Play
Another downside is that even though Google has over two billion users, if someone doesn’t have a device with Play Store (and uses Google Play Books to regularly buy books), they won’t buy from you.
4. Marketplaces like Etsy and ebay
The many ways you can sell your ebook.
The problem? Websites like Etsy and ebay aren’t made for selling ebooks. They’re aimed at people looking for physical products, and categories you can browse make that pretty clear.
5 steps to find the right price for your ebook
Step 1: Research ebook prices in your industry
Research tactic 1: Run targeted Google searches like “your topic” “ebook” (include the quotation marks). Take note of the paid ebooks you find—start with at least 10. You can track them in a Google Sheet, but even a simple note will do. Then, take note:
Sample search for HIIT workout ebooks; this search reveals a $10 to $25 ebook price range.
Targeted Google searches are also a great way to notice the details around industry-specific pricing and your target reader’s budget. Are you selling to families on a budget or to high-earning business owners? How does that influence their expectations of your ebook price? There’s a reason why a fitness ebook is priced at 10 GBP, while a technical ebook about Ruby on Rails is $39.
Research tactic 2: Look at Amazon ebook prices for your industry and topic. Find these in Amazon > Kindle E-readers & Books > Kindle Books, then select the category on the left.
Prices of health and fitness ebooks on Amazon. Image via Amazon
Amazon ebook prices shouldn’t be your main price guide, but it will show you potential outliers—especially ebooks that are priced more than the average book on the topic, yet sells well and has great ratings.
Step 2: Survey your existing audience
Instead, ask them about what they’re currently buying related to your field and topics to solve their challenges and improve their skills. Give them prompts to get as detailed answers as possible. You can ask questions such as:
If you have an email list (of any size!), send your survey to them. You can use a survey tool like SurveyMonkey to do this, or you can write a simple email and ask them just like you would a friend.
If you don’t have an email list yet, or if you have any social following, you can also use those social networks to poll your audience. Use features such as Twitter polls, Instagram polls, or Instagram questions to ask your audience about the solutions they buy to solve their pain points. Just make sure you’re keeping track of all responses, including direct messages—every insight is valuable!
Step 3: Focus on the value your ebook provides
Consider how these questions influence your reader long-term. For example, B2B SaaS copywriter Dana Nicole teaches SEO in her ebook, Savvy in SEO. The outcome of her ebook isn’t to be good at SEO—it’s to get found online by dream clients. This is what she clearly communicates on her landing page:
The transformation that comes after applying what you learn in Savvy in SEO. Image via Dana Nicole
Based on the ebook price range you discovered in step 1, and the solutions your audience already buys you learned in step 2, how does your ebook outcome impact your ebook pricing?
Step 4: Consider ebook add-ons and price anchoring
First one is simple: increase the perceived value of your ebook by sprinkling in extra materials. This can turn your ebook from “just a PDF” into a bundle that will reduce the risk of buying the ebook for your customer.
Add-ons can be video walkthroughs, live streams, recorded interviews with experts, templates, cheat sheets and more. This approach is how Steph Smith increased the perceived value of her ebook, Doing Content Right:
Get specific about add-ons your customers will get. Image via Steph Smith
You can also use add-ons as price anchoring to present your ebook in the best light possible. Anchoring is a cognitive bias, a tendency to rely on the first piece of information offered when making decisions.
For your ebook, this means you can offer a premium version next to it. For example, your ebook price is $40, but you also offer a bundle with a 30-minute coaching call for $150. Your customers may see the ebook-only version as a bargain next to the premium version.
Ebook price anchoring with additional screencasts as a premium offer. Image via Learn Enough
Step 4: Designing the Assets
The design cost depends on the level of commitment you want to put into the aesthetics of your eBook. Do you want every page to be expertly laid out with full-color graphics, or will an eye-catching cover page suffice?
Alex Azoury again: “Your design includes your eBook cover, various elements within the book, and the final page. Someone will need to decide on the fonts and color used. All the headlines, paragraphs and text need to be formatted so that your book appears professionally produced.”
According to James Pollard, Founder of TheAdvisorCoach.com, “Some people will recommend going to a cheap site like Fiverr, but I’ve found that you get what you pay for. I suggest hiring a professional designer either directly or through a freelancing site.”
This level of premium design may cost you a lot more. Pollard estimates that for a fully produced, graphically rich cover design, it may cost as much as $500 for a final product that makes your eBook stand out.
That’s just for the basics, though. If you want to take time to create graphics, tables, charts and other visual elements, that will require more design time. An eBook with robust visuals can cost significantly more and may even creep into the thousands.
Do It Yourself?
This all assumes that you opt to have a designer create your eBook. While usually that’s quicker and can produce a better result, there are a number of tools that can help you create your own eBook design for free.
Step 5: Repurposing and Distributing Your eBook
- Create an audiobook version and make it available on services that offer listening like Spotify, iTunes, Google Play, Scribd, and others.
- Format it for Amazon Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP) and make it available on Amazon. You can make it available for free here, but many published authors earn significant revenue by charging for their eBooks
- Format your eBook in the ePub format for wider accessibility. This is the standard format used by eBook readers such as Kindle, Kobo, iBook, etc. There are many free and paid tools that can help you do this. This will also allow you to sell your eBook on marketplaces like Google Play and iBook.
- Break it up into several blog posts and post it on your blog
So, what’s the final cost of creating an eBook? As mentioned, the total investment depends on what you have available to as well as the level of depth and quality you’re aiming for.
A good ballpark for an average eBook would be around $3,000 dollars if you hire freelancers for everything. But, if you have access to some resources needed like existing content, design support, editing support, etc, the total cost can be a lot lower. Similarly, if you need an exceptional level of quality, tons of research, and need to hire an expert to write it, you could be looking at significantly more.
The amount you actually budget creating your finished product should depend on what you expect to gain from it when you leverage it to your selected market. According to James Pollard, “I tie it directly to a revenue metric in my business because I view it as an investment. I have no problem spending $3,000 to create an eBook that will generate $30,000 in sales over the next year.”
To understand and track the ROI of your eBook, the best way is to determine what the value of each lead who downloads your eBook is. To do this you can work backwards through your funnel. Here’s an example: