What do ebook novels go for?

Anyone got a good idea?

Pulp novels I mean, not literary ones. Secret agent saves world, shags girl sorta thing? $9.99, 99 cents $3.99?

Obviously, looking at maximising gross revenue is the important thing. But what’s the usual price point?

34 thoughts on “What do ebook novels go for?”

  1. I couldn’t say but in the EU (God bless it and keep it) all downloadable books are about to cost more thanks to a VAT hike.

  2. bloke (not) in spain

    You’d have to factor in whether the people read that sort of stuff can work the controls on the edge of a Kindle.
    There are two of them.

  3. Tim, there are hundreds (thousands?) of free novels available in the Kindle store, of all genres – including espionage with whatever sexual preference lead character you specify. Just search using price low-high. There are people who write for fun and publish for kicks, so unless your brand convinces people to pay something, the return on time invested may be quite low. How much would you pay for a novel from an unknown author, if other unknowns were giving them away for free?

    Good luck!

  4. Usually prices range from:

    * free (for the first in the series by a lesser known author trying to get you to try out his books in the hope you’ll buy more)

    * 99p – £1.99 – throwaway self-published pulp novels. Often ones that haven’t been proof-read, edited, or spell-checked in any way.

    * £4 – £5 – for novels from a lesser known author released by a publishing house

  5. Ah, so you’re hoping no one owns the copyright on those pulps you were looking for (presumably to OCR) a while back!

  6. There are people making a living churning out .99 cent novels on Amazon. They’re cheap enough to entice readers and the goal is to keep up the volume of publishing and get enough people to buy ’em.

  7. @Tim,

    Are you looking for writers? Because I, uh, know someone who might be interested and has a bit of pulp experience. Romantic fiction sub-M&B. Has some espionage/crime stuff that didn’t get published. Or are you going to get a computer to rearrange the words?

  8. I should add, I think the RomFic is far easier. They’ll publish any old crap, there is a vast and voracious market for it, even still on the bookstands. Dick Dastardly doesn’t get a look in because while some of the girls are still reading about dashing millionaires, the boys are all playing War of Worldcraft inbetween porn sessions.

  9. @TMB, I concur entirely, because romfic writers do it for the thrill, not for the money.

    Which tells you what – to a bored housewife – the thrill of writing a shagtastic and getting it published – is worth.

    Oh, and I knew the VAT MOSS was going to come up at some point. Isn’t this an example of giving the voters what they want, good and hard?

    MOSS has killed some plans I had via the non-profit I take nonremunerated executive responsibility for (which shows you what my time is worth for the thrill…) but we might just stick it on CDs instead (or even set up a separate company), as volumes will be low enough. The entire European VAT thing is a total fucking nightmare and abominable, totally fucky clusterfuck. It would be so much easier just to have a single European rate of VAT and everyone has to charge it, no exceptions. Maybe that is part of the grand master-plan.

    As it is it really is a tax totally incompatible with the continued integration of the single market. It’s easier to be outside the EU selling in than in the EU selling within, because you can ultimately tell the EU Vatmen to come and sue you, knowing they won’t. There are probably hundreds of thousands of businesses that will not export because the risk/administrative overhead is too high.

  10. BiG: It’s easier to be outside the EU selling in

    What’s to prevent Amazon (or you, for that matter) establishing one of those handy Channel Island subsidiaries who sell into the UK free of VAT up to a given maximum price?

  11. So in order to make some money you’ve decided to go into a field which the bottom has fallen out of? Not sure that’s a great financial decision. Next thing you’ll be telling me you plan to make a living putting out your home-recorded albums on Bandcamp.

  12. 99p in the UK is your price point, initially. (Or free, like your sister’s novels.) Remember to factor in some tireless self-promotion – though, as a published author with websites, you will have a head start on the competition. Good luck!

  13. @The Meissen Bison

    I thought Gideon killed that one off a budget or so back, after the usual rent-a-mob kicked up a fuss, and for once it was a loophole that could actually be closed by the chancellor.

    (Very)Slightly more on topic, does this ruling on ebooks (and I assume on other e-services) mean that that the Luxembourg gov is about to go bump, given they no longer get to receive half a continents worth of VAT for (just about) having the cheapest rate?

  14. @theProle

    I thought Gideon killed that one off a budget or so back, after the usual rent-a-mob kicked up a fuss, and for once it was a loophole that could actually be closed by the chancellor.

    Not really. What the UK had said was that, along with VAT MOSS, they would remove all of the exemptions, i.e. a business turning over about £80k does not currently have to register for VAT.

    All that Gideon did was to re-instate the exemptions: those turning over under the limit still has to register for VAT, but does not have to charge it (or submit returns).

    It’s a total fudge, but the only thing that he could do in the circumstances.

    DK

  15. $2.99 or $3.99 seems to be the going rate for a first book from a first time novelist who is self pubbing. IIRC $2.99 is a key price level on Amazon and you want to be at or above it to get a greater share of the sale price.

    $4.99 and up only works (in my experience) if you are an established author and only idiot publishing houses sell at $9.99+ and get limited sales as a result.

    PS this may be interesting http://madgeniusclub.com/2015/01/04/notes-from-the-marketing-underground-by-dorothy-grant/

  16. BiG: “…the boys are all playing War of Worldcraft …”

    Not just the boys… 😉 You’re right about RomFic though, they will indeed ‘publish any old crap’ particularly in the ‘urban fantasy’ subgenre..

  17. I use Kindle quite a lot as I’m a frequent traveller and tend to read the higher end of that kind of fiction. Obviously it’s priced as “what they can get away with” for a new book by an established author, as they know there’s an fanbase that will rush to buy it ( £4.5 – £5).

    Older (> than 2/3 years) books by the same author vary between £1.50 and £3).

    If you sort by price, there are free or 99p bargains to be had (haven’t tried those).

  18. Gary Marshall did a lot of experimenting with the pricing of his novel, and concluded that pricing above 99p kills sales. He’s written quite a few posts about promotion and pricing and so on: search his blog for “Coffin Dodgers”.

    Also, buy a copy, cause it’s rather good.

  19. Didn’t Bernard Cornwell write the first of the Sharpe series based on a line by line deconstruction of Hornblower?

  20. The 99 pence price suggests something of low quality to me. I’d go for 2.99 and then have one-off sales of 99pence to get people hooked. The signalling effect is important.

  21. @Hallowed be

    David Weber’s SF Honor Harrington novels are based on CS Forester’s Hornblower series. The first few books of the Japanese manga Dragonball are based on the Chinese classic “Journey to the West”. Asimov’s Foundation series was based on ideas in Gibbon’s Decline and Fall.

  22. Sounds like a good idea to me. Doesn’t really matter whether its in copyright or not. Go through it line by line and use different words.

    pip pip..!”Johnny Hare, his hands shaking, scrambled desperately in his jacket pockets searching for another sixpence to feed into the phone. With … Peep Peep.. Johann Hari, his fingers quivering, rifled urgently through his man bag, for the charger to plug into his iphone….

  23. So Much for Subtlety

    Hallowed Be – “Johann Hari, his fingers quivering, rifled urgently through his man bag, for the charger to plug into his iphone….”

    I quite like the idea of Hari as a top spy – and based on Philby et al there is probably something like it in real life. But I am not sure I would watch it on TV much less read a book. Johnny English was bad enough.

  24. So Much for Subtlety

    Ian H – “there are hundreds (thousands?) of free novels available in the Kindle store, of all genres – including espionage with whatever sexual preference lead character you specify.”

    Some time last year some people were pointing out the genre of Monster Romance novels. Apparently you can buy romance novels where the hero is a dinosaur.

    At that point I realised there was a market for everything.

    The question I have with e-books is how do the writers know when to stop? I mean, what is a good length for a Kindle book? Presumably with a manuscript you can just pick it up. How do you know if you’re doing a J. K. Rowling when it is electronic?

  25. At that point I realised there was a market for everything.

    I realised this when I lived in Kuwait on my own for a year in my mid-20s. The Kuwaitis blocked the, erm, interesting websites but had neglected to block a site containing tens of thousands of adult erotic literature (I use that term charitably). Trawling through, I discovered people have rewritten whole episodes of Battlestar Galactica, keeping the main plot lines, but putting in dozens of sex scenes. Looking a bit deeper, I discovered there is all sorts of this stuff, whole chapters of established sci-fi and fantasy works rewritten as pr0n. F*cking odd, I found it.

  26. So Much for Subtlety

    Tim Newman – “Looking a bit deeper, I discovered there is all sorts of this stuff, whole chapters of established sci-fi and fantasy works rewritten as pr0n. F*cking odd, I found it.”

    Slash fiction started with Star Trek I think. The general rule of thumb is that if it is Gay – Kirk and Spook for instance – it is written by women. That is odd but there you go.

    Yep I had noticed the entire genre. My first exposure to it actually involved Smurfs. No, you do not want to ask.

    But it has become mainstream. As 50 Shades of Grey started out as online fan-fiction/porn derived from Twilight. Which is creepy enough on its own. It became so popular that she changed the names to something manifestly poorly thought out and porn-y and got a mainstream publishing deal. But online porn is how it started.

    Squander Two – “Their spouses tell them.”

    What is the normal length of a novel? I have never thought about it before. But somehow I expect that the wife is not a good judge of when to stop. Otherwise men would have stopped a long time ago.

    Hallowed Be – “Hari as top spy!? More like Guy Burgess than Philby I would think.”

    So a little too realistic you think?

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