I read a whining article by a published writer about how she simply couldn't afford to price her e-books at less than $6.99 or so. That at $2.99 she would have to sell thousands of books to break even for the time she spent on writing them. For some reason, I took offence at several of her points. First, there are many writers who download their books on Smashwords and Kindle who will probably never sell a single book, regardless of the price. Second, this woman--who writes genre fiction--seemed to think that her books were more valuable than those of the rest of us. But mostly, I was disgusted at a creative artist actually figuring out the cost of her writing time. Fuck you, lady, and here's why.
I have put in far more hours writing than she has and most of them have been pleasurable. I love writing and I love what I create. I love the act of creating and if necessary I would have paid for the opportunity. The books I have written--the stories, the poems, the essays, and the novels--are my greatest accomplishment on earth. How do you put a price tag on that? Not every writer wants to be rich and famous, but most do. I do, in fact, but this seems to be out of my control. What is important is the writing, the characters, the stories, and the things that I learn from them. If other people can learn from them, fine. If people want to pay for them, even better. The advent of e-book reading has given every author the opportunity to get their words in front of a vast audience, so let's take advantage of it if we can.
So what should you charge? Here's my two cents worth. If someone charges $12.99 or even $24.99, there is a pretty good chance that people are going to pass it by--no matter how good or useful it might be. I know people who have started high (high prices and high expectations), then gone lower when the book did not sell. In increments. From $24.99 to $17.99 to $9.99 and so on. But why not do the reverse? Start out by pricing the book low--anywhere from 99 cents to $2.99. If it doesn't sell despite whatever vigorous marketing campaigns you might undertake, then it probably won't sell at all. If it does, you can always raise the price.