How Much Should You Charge for Your eBook?

ebook price

Cruise any of the writer’s forums on the internet and you’re bound to find a log of discussions on the topic of eBook pricing.

You’ll find legions of authors who are enjoying success — and best net sales revenue per book — at the currently popular price levels of $4.99 to $9.99. They’re making the maximum royalty from the eBook retailers — up to 70% returned to the author — and believe the higher prices begin to reflect the quality and value of their efforts.

On the other side of the argument are hundreds of authors thrilled with the results of pricing their books down to rock bottom levels — $1.99 to 99¢ — giving up the high percentage of return for larger numbers of fans. A few authors like John Locke have seen their literary fortunes soar with this pricing strategy.

Amazon’s list of 100 best-selling books has become a pricing free-for-all. During the week I’m writing this, 21 books were selling for just 99¢. Others were priced at $4.98, $7.59, and $8.82. The most expensive single book, at $16.99, was Dick Cheney’s memoir. There is none of the clarity of iTunes in its early years, when the price of music tracks was fixed at 99¢.

Think about percentages

One of the biggest factors to consider in pricing your eBook is the percentage of sales you’ll receive from the retailers. Amazon pays out a royalty of 70% on all Kindle titles priced between $2.99 to $9.99. For eBooks priced below $2.99 and above $9.99, Amazon pays out only 35%. Most of the other eBook retailers have similar price banding.

To encourage more readers with a low price and still get the 70% royalty, you would set your price to $2.99. Every sale will yield you a net royalty of $2.09 per sale.

If you opt to maximize your exposure and price your book at $0.99, then you’ll get 35 cents per sale. In order to get $2.09 in royalties with a book priced at $0.99, you’ll have to sell 6 books. If you sell 1,000 books at $2.99, then you’ll make $2,090. If you are contemplating a price drop to $0.99, then you’ll have to sell 5,972 books to make the same net royalties you did when it was priced at $2.99.

But writing and publishing an eBook is more than just numbers, dollars, and cents. These kinds of royalty calculations are only one factor in the success of an eBook. Why do some author’s price their book at 99¢ when the math seems to be so against that model?

A few reasons to price your book at 99¢:

• It’s only 99¢, what’s the risk? An impulse-priced book allows a reader take a chance on a book that looks interesting. If you’re an unknown author trying to build your readership base, this might be the answer. While $3.99 doesn’t sound like a lot, it does mean the difference between 1 book and 4 books for the purchaser.

• an easier path to best-seller status. To rise atop the Amazon rankings is the Holy Grail quest for most every author. Amazon counts book sales units, not revenue. Setting your price at the impulse level of $0.99 could help you creep up in the ranking and gain visibility there — visibility you might not have gotten if you kept your book price higher.

• Success begets success. When you visit your book page, you’ll see a section that says “Customers Who Bought This Item Also Bought.” The real value for you is when your book appears in that section on other successful books. Amazon will list up to 100 books in this section and readers will often scroll through that list to discover other books that look interesting. Again, a drop of 99¢ may be the catalyst to increase your sales enough to land you in that section on some popular books.

Those are a few of the arguments for dropping your Kindle book price to 99¢. Of course pricing is only one factor in the success of a book. There’s no guarantee your 99¢ book will attract hundreds of new readers — that’s why it’s important to continue to market your book and actively seek out ways to get it in front of new readers.

So what should you charge for your book?

As the back-and-forth pricing arguments attest, there is no easy answer. It depends on your genre, your commitment to marketing, and the prevailing winds of the marketplace at any given time or place. New authors who are trying to find a readership can use the low price strategy to great success.

If you have a series, you may want to lower the first book in the series to entice people to give you a try. Other books can then be priced higher because you are no longer a new author to those who have purchased your book.

And if you’re an established author finding success with eBooks, think long and hard about changing your book pricing strategy. If you are seeing success at one price, think hard before trying to cash in on a higher price. You don’t want to kill the momentum of your sales which may be a hard thing to restart if you do.

Like the rest of the eBook world, we’re in a rapidly evolving environment when it comes to eBook pricing. Things are so new, and changing so quickly, that pricing strategies can be outdated in the blink of an eye. One of the great things for authors who self-publish their eBooks is the ability to change the price, test different price points, and react to the market demand.

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Steven Spatz is a writer, marketer, and President Emeritus of BookBaby, the nation’s leading self-publishing service provider. After a successful career with companies including Mattel, Hasbro, and Pinnacle Orchards, Steven joined AVL Digital in 2004 as Chief Marketing Officer, leading the direct-to-consumer marketing teams for music industry-leading brands Disc Makers, Oasis, and CD Baby. The native Oregonian was tapped to lead BookBaby, the company’s new publishing division, in late 2014. BookBaby’s growing book-printing operation is located outside Philadelphia, PA, and employs over 100 book-publishing experts across the United States to meet the printed and eBook needs of thousands of self-publishing authors around the globe. Steven retired as brand President in 2022 and continues to contribute via weekly emails, industry guides, and posts on the BookBaby blog. He’s in the process of relocating full-time to southern France in early 2023. Steven loves to hear from authors, editors, and publishers in the BookBaby community with tales of publishing trials and triumphs. To tell him your story, write to


  1. hi this is my first book of 240 pages it suggest I ask 3.99 for paper back and 99 for e-book is this good my friend wrote the same amount and his book is selling for $15 dollars confused this is a form they give me to fill out

  2. Good day Dale L. McCormack,
    Have read about Amazon reducing prices. However, as a small press publisher did my book, The Manor’s Eyes, presently listed at Amazon, I would like to either reduce present listed price for book or reduce cost for eBook. My questions are: 1) Does the s/p publisher contact Amazon or if I can, which way can I go to give it that extra push for readers to buy? 2) Where do I go, if you are not able to answer number (1)?

  3. How much more does Amazon charge the author to publish a book in full color? I am writing a How To book that requires a lot of pictures. I often hear that color print–digital or paper–costs more. But I’m having a hard time finding how that affects my bottom line. Thanks.

  4. What If you update your book constantly? Does that make it worth more? I wrote a textbook and I will be constantly updating it with recipes, flavor analysis. I really don’t want people on a subscription.

  5. From the beginning I wanted to create the most different reading experience a reader could have. “Littluns: And the Book of Darkness” is a 411 page epic, color illustrated adventure printed on Kodak paper; a story told in present tense. It’s a book that is in many ways like experiencing a movie, but a visual experience that can only be read. I also insisted on the novel being completely produced in the United States. The cost of printing alone was over $100,000. After all our inventory is sold, we will probably have to print the hard copy in B&W only. Business reality is what it is.

    Pricing was difficult for me because experts advised that I charge at least $50.00 per printed
    hardcover. We gambled on long-term with ROI sometime in the far distant future, pricing it at only $29.95 so that more people could afford to buy it. Later, the eBook enabled us to charge only $9.99. The one complaint from readers about the eBook is that they would have liked the color illustrations larger.

    If it’s all about making a living, then you must treat your work as a business. I gambled on reader’s wanting more, and for us to stand out from the (more product than demand) reality in the marketplace out there
    Being different can be very expensive, but our successes come from standing out from the crowd. Our reviews and awards won for “Littluns” were beyond anything we could have expected. As one reader said, “Littluns will last the test of time.” You can take a look and decide for yourself at

  6. […] Posts The eBook price is right. Or is it? How Much Should You Charge For Your Ebook? Book News: Ebook Sales, Amazon Typo Warning, Librarian Of Congress Summer Readers Are A Key Market […]

  7. I think length has a great deal in how you price your book. A book under 100 pages really shouldn’t sell for over $3.99 And thats pushing it. I hate browsing and seeing an intersting book for $5 or more only to have it only 60 pages long!

    • When we shop for commodities, certainly prices are expected to be low. However, writing is a unique creation, and hopefully, shouldn’t be priced solely based on weight. One would hope that artistic creation can create a unique value proposition.
      As other have mentioned, various marketing considerations can sway the price point, but (dammit) good writing, and illustrations, and cover design take time and money. Be sure to pay for your image licenses!

      • True. I’ve written four tech books, and they each sell for $45 in paperback, and $27 in Kindle edition. Sounds outrageous, but that’s the price for technology, given you have to make all your money in just a 2-3 years.

        It tempts me to go indie on the next one, so instead of getting 16% royalty from the publisher, I can get 35%, more than double.

          • Only on books that retail between $2.99 and $9.99 through Amazon. In Greg’s case, he has a technology book that retails for $27 in the Kindle edition. His current publisher only gives him 16% in royalties, making his net income about $4.32 per book. If he self-publishes through Amazon, he would get 35% for his $27 book, netting him about $9.45 per book. If he sells the same number of books over the same time period, he would more than double his income by publishing through Amazon.

  8. I’ve heard that on Amazon you can offer your book for free for a limited time to gain momentum in the rankings, which can be an important catalyst for an unknown author. Would be helpful to know whether this is an option for Bookbaby authors or not.

  9. […] in 2012 I addressed some eBook pricing questions in a BookBaby blog post, “How Much Should You Charge For Your eBook?” Surprisingly, a lot of the information in that post remains valid, especially for brand new […]

  10. In my opinion lower pricing can be a double edged sword … Especially if you’re publishing on a small market like I will in the near future. People forget, that being an author of a book is not just about sales and how much money you make … pricing also speaks about status, perceived value as seen in eyes of the future buyer etc. Not to mention that your book is also your pride, statement, your “future door opener” (if your book is great …) I wrote my first novel. It took me 5 years in total. Great title, controversial topic, etc., and yes it’s my first one. But who knows, maybe it will be my last. You don’t now how successful you’re going to be selling it, but if you have a solid price, at least you have your pride intact, and people will know you value your work and they will cherish your book more … And that can paradoxically lift your sales … That’s my romanticized view … p.s. Your book is like a swiss knife of income. It can be, if you have what it takes:)

    • I like your comment. I’m doing my first book. Some books have time and research. Too low of a price cheapens an authors skill and education. People don’t seem to appreciate something they pay too low of a price for. If you give it away, it may end up in a trash can. If you sell it to low it may end up in a trash can. Even if it is a higher price it can end up in a trash can…..They can pay to throw mine away…..

    • The writing/publishing process seems to get easier with experience; at least it sure did for me. First one took 65 years to acquire motivation and knowledge. Put together another in a few months while others are germinating.

      The final steps before “approval” still can be frustrating though. Maybe it’s because I’ve been trying to handle all details as my own general contractor. That is, I hire the cover designer, editor, etc.Then I compile the loose ends and submit it to Amazon; and submit it to Amazon, and… Until it’s approved.

  11. Thanks for the handy article. I wasn’t aware of Amazon’s royalty penalty for mid-priced books. Looks like if I drop my eBook from $11.99 to $9.99 I could increase sales *and* my royalties. Nice to know. ( “Open House: Debunking the Myth of the ‘Happy Homeowner'”)

  12. This is my first book and it’s completed, there is so much information that I’m overwhelmed about the initial steps to take to get it out there in ebook form. I guess it will all come together, thanks for your reply in advance.

  13. I’m writing a book now and it is hard to decide to put it in print or in just an ebook format. I like the idea of quicker sales from an ebook, and your article helped me to better understand royalties. However, I’m still torn on what to price it for. I’m not sure it will be popular and I’m trying to make enough money to put a second book in print and ebook format. For now, I’m doing some thinking. (Also, can you publish a book on Amazon under an alias?)

    • Sabrina why make a choice between ebook or print? Why not all? For instance, I love reading on/off line, but I also like print. Ebook is convenient, and I can get the information right now.

      As soon as I spend my money, I have my book. Print… I can take it anywhere, the bathroom, my Lanai, or to my favorite island in the Gulf, miles from civilization. I love the feel and the smell of a book, and on a personal quirk, books look really nice on my shelf, even if its small.

      I like down-loadable pdf, print, and, Kindle, not that much. Different people like different things, why limit your success, or possibilities? Unless there’s a law stating you can’t market your book in any format, it may be something to think about, and plan.

      • Agreed, in today’s publishing world, there is absolutely no reason, that I can think of, NOT to offer both online and soft/hard cover versions. Another beautiful aspect of eBooks is their real time availability with audio; for the vision impaired!

    • With kindle you can do both ebook and paperback. There is no cost up front for paperbacks to be published. There is, however, a printing cost that comes off the listed price. For example your paperback costs $2 to print. You are selling your paperback for $8 and you get 70% royalties.

      $8 listing prince
      70% royalties ($5.60)
      $2 printing cost
      $3.60 net per paperback purchase

    • When it gets down the List Price for one of my books, I think there’s something to be said for the observation that; “Something that is cheap has less perceived value, than something which costs more.” Or, in another way; something that’s “free” has no value. Heck, look at various aspects of society to see that attitude in action.

      Anyway, I speak as one who has composed/published a hundred-page book, and one half that size. Both took time to write, refine and go through all the steps required by the self-publishing process. As a result, I feel “entitled,” rightly or wrongly, that I deserve a financial reward for those hours secluded away from other activities and people. Let alone the frustration of dealing with Amazon and or other sub-contractors along the way.

      It’s a question everyone needs to consider and resolve. Just in other aspects of life; hold dear to one’s treasures, despite society’s temptations and urgings.

      • That is my thinking as well.
        I want to publish a novel I have been working on for the past four years.
        Not at all thrilled about giving it away for .99.
        May go straight to paperback.
        I have done all of the editing and artwork as well.
        Too much time invested to look as though I’m begging someone to read it.

        • You could always sell a first chapter for $1.99 and if they buy that then they get that much off the purchase of the paperback and maybe first access to it once it’s published?


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