When I decided to price "Chase of a Lifetime" at .99, I didn't do it without thinking hard about it first. I took a lot of things into consideration before I did it, from the value of e-books to what might happen if readers assume my books will always be .99. Frankly, this is one of those times when I would prefer to have a publisher make these decisions for me.
I felt the same way about "Jonah Sweet of Delancey Street," when I first released that on Amazon. Was I devaluing my hard work, and was I devaluing e-books in general? I had to take into consideration that I paid a copyeditor and a cover artist, which I'd never had to do before with a publisher. But, on the other hand, I don't have and agent and I'm not giving a percentage on the back end to anyone but Amazon.
I took the pragmatic approach, the same approach I've taken with other businesses I've owned in the past that did well. Right now e-books are still in the minority and a lot of people don't know what they are all about. I do believe this will continue to change, and more people will be reading e-books until that's the only kind of book that will be available. But right now that's not the case. E-books are still something new and to price them the same way I would price a print book could be a complete turn off to readers. I've learned from my comment thread about book pirates that readers in Eastern Europe consider e-books nothing more than test books to check out, to see if they want the print book or not. There's still a long way to go with e-books, and I know it and I never ignore it.
I also know how my readers buy e-books. They don't just buy one e-book, spend a month reading it, and then go back a month later for another e-book. My readers buy anywhere from five to ten e-books a week, they read them all in one week, and then they go back and buy more the next week. And that adds up in cost. My own e-book budget last month was over two hundred dollars. I appreciated the deals I got with the books that weren't over-priced. I also passed on a few that were over-priced. In fact, there's on e-book, a BDSM anthology, I've been wanting for months and it's still priced far more than I would ever pay for an e-book anthology.
Right now, as I write this post, I'm in the middle of making a decision about the sequel to "Chase of a Lifetime," titled, "Chase of a Dream." I still can't go into details about it yet, but it involves pricing and how I'm going to go about releasing this title. I can say this: I will be releasing it as a .99 e-book for now. But as far as how I'm going to go about releasing it, due to the unusual nature of what I'm about to do with this book, is still up in the air. My main concern is to NOT confuse my readers. Whatever I do decide on doing will be centered on that one single objective.
I'm not the only one who has questioned how to price e-books, and whether or not .99 is too cheap for an e-book. In this post, over at "A Newbie's Guide to Publishing," Joe Konrath talks about it, too. So far, I have no complaints about the way I've priced my self-published books. And, for the record, I have no complaints about the way my publisher, Ravenousromance.com, has priced "An Officer and His Gentleman" at .99. For a short time, "Pretty Man" was .99 and it did well. So price IS important.
Will my .99 books remain at that price forever? I can't say for now. I wish I could, but it's not possible at this point. I'm still learning as I go, and to make a promise like that would be unfair to readers. I can say this, all the books I release under my own press, "Ryan Field Press," will be consistent in price. In other words, I don't want my books on Amazon to be priced differently from those in Smashwords or Allromanceebooks...or anywhere.