5 Factors to Consider in Pricing Your E-book

How much should you charge for your e-book? How do you set your e-book's price? There's no single right answer for every person or every e-book. However, there are a few factors that every e-book author should consider when setting a price that works for them:

1. What You Need to Earn

Start by thinking about how long the e-book took to write, format, and prepare for delivery. You can factor in some of your marketing time as well, but that should already be accounted for in the rates you're earning versus time spent marketing your services as a freelance writer.

Now figure out what you earn on average per hour (per billable hour), or how much you would need to earn per billable hour to meet your overall income goals from all services, products, etc. Multiply the time you spent writing and preparing your e-book for publication by the average earnings per billable hour. This is the minimum you should strive to earn overall from your e-book sales. Hopefully you'll earn more than this, but it gives you a bare bones starting point.

Given this information, don't set your e-book price so low that you know you won't be able to earn the total goal, and don't set it so high that you can't make at least enough sales to reach that same goal.

2. The Convenience Factor

A lot of people seem baffled by the fact that buyers will often pay more for an e-book than for a print book on a similar subject. The reasoning is simple though... people will always pay more for convenience (it's why you can pay more for a 20oz soda in a convenience store than you'd pay for a 2 liter bottle anywhere else). The same applies to e-books... people want instant gratification, and e-books give them that in a way that print books can't. They don't have to take time out of their day to go to a book store when they want the information right now, just hoping the book's in stock, and they don't have to pay shipping fees, taxes (possibly depending on where they're located), or have to wait for deliveries.

The more your e-book's topic would appeal to the "right now" crowd and mind frame, the more you can charge.

3. Exclusivity

This is a pretty simple one.... If the material contained in your e-book can be found just as quickly on the Web (for free), you won't be able to charge much for it, and the instant gratification factor won't work in your favor. The only exception here is if the free information isn't organized anywhere online well for free, in which case people will still pay a premium to have it assembled neatly for them to save them time.

If you're offering insider tips or highly detailed information not available elsewhere, you can charge more. If you're offering extremely basic information that people can find for free through a simple Google search, don't count on being able to set a high price for your e-book.

4. Authority

Do you have any authority in the niche of your e-book? If so, people are going to be willing to pay more for your e-book than for a similar e-book from someone with no credentials in the niche.

For example, if you write an e-book on SEO, but you've never achieved top ten rankings for your own websites, people aren't going to spend $47 on your e-book. If you're well-known in the field, have habitually gotten clients excellent rankings for tough keyword phrases, and you're offering insider tips and information that you don't already talk about publicly (in a blog, etc.), that $47 is nothing to people who know that good SEO advice could make them much more than that in the long run.

5. Timeliness / Relevance

If your e-book is in some way timely, you may be able to charge a premium for it. For example, an e-book dealing with protecting yourself from identity theft will probably sell much better (and be able to be sold for a higher price) if the topic's been covered heavily in the news recently.

An e-book dealing with safety during the holidays or toy safety simply won't sell as well after the holiday season passes. Pricing and timing really go hand-in-hand.

Make sure that you're thinking about all of these factors when pricing your own e-books. Here are a few other things to consider:

  • Do you need to charge enough to make affiliate income attractive (if you'll be having affiliates market your e-book for you for a cut of the sale)?
  • Have you already set buyer expectations with past e-book prices? If you're already known with your market for offering $5 e-books, you'll have a hard time convincing them to spend $50 on your next one... no matter how much credibility you have. Always take the most care in setting the rate for your first e-book.
  • Do you want to be able to offer sales, discounts, or special offers on the e-book price to certain groups of people. If so, that discounted rate needs to still be factored into the minimum you need to earn overall, so you should price your e-book a little bit higher to leave "wiggle room" for those promotions.

Remember, you can't judge an e-book's success solely on how many copies were sold. Underpricing your e-book in the hopes of selling more copies can actually hurt your profit margins and even sales numbers. Why? Because one of the best ways to sell a lot of e-books is to use affiliate marketing techniques, letting others sell the book for you. In order to attract affiliates with great marketing abilities, you'll need to charge enough for the e-book to be able to pay them enough to make it worth their while. Having a large affiliate network can lead to more e-book sales with less direct effort from you... even potentially more sales than you'd earn by marketing the e-book solo even at a lower price point.

Profile image for Jennifer Mattern

Jennifer Mattern is a professional blogger, freelance business writer, consultant, and indie author. She runs numerous websites & blogs including All Freelance Writing, Freelance Writing Pros, NakedPR, and Kiss My Biz.

Jenn has 25 years' experience as a professional writer and editor and over 20 years' experience in marketing and PR (working heavily in digital PR, online marketing, social media, SEO, new media, and thought leadership publication). She also has 19 years' professional blogging and web publishing experience (including web development) and around 18 years of experience as an indie author / publisher.

Jenn also writes fiction under multiple pen names and is an Active member of the Horror Writers Association.

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1 thought on “5 Factors to Consider in Pricing Your E-book”

  1. Hi,
    I am writing a self help book, but, I don’t know how much I should charge for the book, can you give me some tips? thanks , Linda


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