I know we all like to imagine writers sitting in a, well, not a garret these days, but perhaps a sunlit back bedroom, a cat purring under the desk, surrounded by ramshackle bookshelves overflowing with books, family photos and inspirational ornaments. And much as I like to picture myself in just such a romantic setting, concerned only with thinking arty thoughts and crafting the finest novel I can, the reality is that much of the business of writing is just that: a business. Not for one moment do I envisage “Fatal Forgery” making my fortune, such that I can retire from the day job and spend all my hours in the sunlit back bedroom, etc. – but I do have to think about the money side of things. And one of the most obviously financial decisions I have to make is how to price the book.
As you know, I am going to publish both a print-on-demand paperback (known in our house as the POD) and an e-book (the E) – so I need not just one but two prices. Being of a certain age (oh go on then, 47) I’m still not quite convinced that an e-anything should cost the same as its physical counterpart, and so I would like to have one price for the POD and a lower one for the E.
For the POD, I went into a few local bookshops and looked at how much paperbacks cost these days – specifically, historical fiction. And they seem to weigh in at about £8.99. I then looked sternly at “Fatal Forgery” (I think it cowered a bit), and reasoned that (a) it’s quite a short novel at 55,000-ish words, (b) it’s self-published, and (c) hardly anyone has heard of me – so we need to come down from that. On the other hand, I don’t want to suggest with a bargain basement price that it’s not a quality book. And what about that “.99” ruse? What about pricing a book at a round pound, or “.50” instead? But apparently this screams “self-published amateur” and is best avoided. So I’ve pretty much decided on £5.99 for the POD.
The E is much trickier, not least because almost entire books have been written on the art/science of e-book pricing. Because it is so easy to adjust the price of an e-book, people suggest all sorts of complicated pricing models: e.g. offer it free (free!) for the first day, then when demand is created bung the price up to £4.99, then when the initial flurry is over, tempt in the stragglers with a discounted price of £1.49. All of this seems to entail much more monitoring (and cunning) than I can provide, so I’d rather set the price to what I think it’s worth and see how we go. So I’m thinking of £2.99 for the E.
So in short, we’re looking at £5.99 for the physical paperback, and £2.99 for the e-book. What do you think?