How to Price Your Self-Published Book

how to price self-published book

Congratulations! You wrote and self-published your book. Now you need to set the price. In today’s article, we’ll tell you how to price your self-published book, and show you why price affects sales and the perception of quality.

Pricing Models

$0.99: High sales and ranking, lower review ratings, low commissions

$2.99: Moderate sales, high commissions

$5.99: Reduced sales, high commissions and revenue, better review ratings

Analyzing the Market

Don’t set pricing levels in a vacuum. When deciding how much to sell your book for, read the room. What are the prices for the bestselling books in your genre? Is there a median price that most authors gravitate toward?

While it’s nice to break away from the pack and be original, the price you set for your book should make sense to your genre’s readers. 

If the highest-quality books sell for $3.99 to $5.99, your book will stick out like a sore thumb if you set the price at $1.99. Unless you’re running a sale, this pricing model will look strange compared to its competitors and subconsciously sway potential readers toward other books.

Researching your market can be as easy as opening up Amazon and checking the prices for the bestselling books in your target genre. 

A quick check of the Top-100 mysteries on Amazon reveals that indie and small-press books sell for about $4.99, while books from larger publishing houses command prices of $9.99 and higher. If you’re a self-published mystery writer, you’d do well to set your long-term pricing strategy between $3.99 and $5.99.

But sometimes a lower price makes sense. That brings us to . . .

Penetration Pricing: Selling Books for $0.99 (or free)

When you want to penetrate a market, attract readers, and gain market share, a $0.99 (or free) book makes a ton of sense. 

Readers are more likely to take a chance on an author they’ve never experienced if the price is low. For new indie authors trying to attract readers, $0.99- and free-pricing models move more books than other strategies. Even experienced authors with a large following sometime price their books on the cheap to dominate a market.

Great for a Series

Are you writing a series? Pricing the first book at $0.99 or giving it away acts as a profitable loss leader. In this case, you sacrifice revenue on book one and make it up when readers purchase the rest of the series. 

This strategy also serves authors who want to build their newsletter subscribers in a hurry. By placing a sign-up link at the front and back of their book, they gain subscribers every time they run penetration pricing strategies.

The Downside

Penetration pricing lowers the perception of quality. If an author is selling a book for less than a dollar or giving it away, it can’t be very good, right? 

That’s the perception many readers have when they see a low price point. If you think this is nothing but unfounded theory, watch the average review rating for a book fall during penetration pricing.

Furthermore, if you run this strategy too often, it loses impact. A cheap price won’t attract potential readers if they see your book selling for free or $0.99 every week. There is no urgency to buy when a cheap price is considered normal.

Higher Pricing Models: $4.99 and up

I never wanted readers to know me as a 99-cent author. By raising my prices to $4.99 and $5.99, I set reader expectations. In addition, when I run a sale, I move more books because it is unusual to see my stories available at a low price point.

High prices psychologically raise the perception of quality for your books. That means better reviews. 

Plus, since many e-book retailers like Amazon offer higher sales commissions for books priced between $2.99 and $9.99, you earn higher revenues with this pricing model.

The Downside

Many readers take a chance on books priced between $3.99 and $5.99, but you won’t see the floodgates open as you would using penetration pricing. That means your newsletter list won’t grow as quickly, and you will need patience as you gain market share.

But that’s okay. In self-publishing, moving a little slower and steadier than your competition wins a lot of races. 

Moderate Pricing Models: $2.99 

You’d think the middle ground would offer the best of both worlds, but that’s rarely the case with the moderate pricing strategy.

Instead, these prices often place you in no-man’s-land. 

In my experience, setting my prices at $2.99 sells far fewer books than setting them at $0.99. But I don’t see a noticeable sales spike if I lower my prices from $4.99 to $2.99. Sure, I sell a few more books. But not enough to make up for the lost revenue.

When Does $2.99 Make Sense?

Many authors who write in a series prefer to sell the first book for $2.99. This entices more readers to take a chance on the series, and the author captures a higher commission.

Setting your price at $2.99 also works for special releases, such as novellas and short stories. 


When setting the price for your self-published book, consider your goals. Penetration pricing is the most effective method for gaining market share in a hurry, while the $4.99- and $5.99-pricing model produces steady gains and attracts better reviews.

Best of luck with your new release!

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