Price-Fixing: Book Pricing Strategies

Vearsa, our distribution partner, discusses ways to strategize your pricing:


bright-idea-for-business-growth-360708173“How much should I charge for my ebook?”—It’s the question every new book publisher at Vearsa asks before entering the digital marketplace and one with no easy answer.

While ebooks are becoming more prevalent with mainstream readers, publishers still struggle to find the magic price point that appeals to consumers and generates maximum sales. For new publishers, experts’ suggestions range from 99 cents to $9.99, while established publishing houses offer new titles starting at $15.99. And because ebooks can vary in content and quality as much as their print counterparts, there is no “one-size-fits-all” pricing solution. Instead, publishers have to rely on the trial-and-error method. You can simplify your own pricing process by developing a pricing strategy specifically suited to your sales goals and customer behavior.

To formulate your pricing strategy, first determine your book’s value, target audience, and sales goals.

What is your book’s value?

Consumers are conditioned to pay more for materials they deem worthwhile to career advancement or self-betterment whereas they’re less keen to spend much on ebooks with pure entertainment value. If you’re selling a reference guide with specialty content (worksheets, embedded illustrations, tutorials, etc.), you would position your book in a different price range than you would a short book of humorous essays.

Who is your target audience?

Are you targeting a niche market or reaching out to general audience? If you have an established fan base, they may be more willing to pay a little extra for your title because they’re already familiar with your work. An unknown author promoting a new novel might have better luck with a lower price point to entice new readers.

winner-finish-win-flat-design-track-success-goal-target-rocket-bulb-ideas-finance-vision-354754988What are your sales goals?

Is it more important to maximize profit or broaden your readership? Are you prepared to sell your title at a loss in order to gain prominence in the marketplace? Factor in the expenses involved with the creation and release of your ebook and determine a reasonable time frame in which to recover those costs.

Your actual pricing strategy should include your anchor price—the standard price point at which you plan to list your book—and a flexible timetable for offering discounts and other price modifications. Choose a price range that best reflects your goals and be prepared to experiment with different price points to gauge customer behavior. Offer your title at the lower end of the range as an introductory price to penetrate the marketplace. If sales performance is strong, you may try raising the price. Take care not to raise or drop prices too sharply or with too much frequency as erratic pricing may scare off potential customers.

Review sales data regularly to identify trends and opportunities and use those reports to inform changes in marketing and pricing strategies. If your title has a seasonal tie-in or is in direct competition with a new release on a similar topic, adjust your sales price to attract new buyers and remain competitive.

The ebook market is still evolving and demands flexibility, patience, and perseverance. A strong pricing strategy will keep your sales goals on track and prolong your book’s success in the digital marketplace.


Vearsa has recently launched a new product called Book Tracker which gives great data for all those who are in a pricing pickle. Check it out here


Why Do We Read?

outline-drawings-of-head-brain-creative-brain-brain-icon-brain-gears-319240778Our distribution partner, Vearsa, shares insights about why we read, and the hidden benefits of indulging our literary passion.

Most of us have been reading since we were very young, but how many of us really think about the “why” behind the words? What makes a novel compelling, or a memoir so riveting? Why do some readers lose themselves in fantasy and sci-fi while others swear by non-fiction instead?

According to Sara Nelson, editor in chief of Publishers Weekly, “Why people read what they read is a great unknown and personal thing.” But while the reasons for reading can’t exactly be dissected, the science behind why readers read—and what happens to our brains when we read—is profoundly interesting.

I read, therefore I am stimulated

We all know more or less how the brain becomes addicted to things. Sometimes lifelong readers read simply because reading makes them feel good, or because it’s familiar. Many famous novelists confess to being steered towards books by a single transformative reading experience during adolescence.

Junot Diaz, author of Pulitzer Prize-winning The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao,” remembers stumbling upon a mobile library with his family after emigrating from the Dominican Republic to New Jersey. Sherman Alexie, who won the National Book Award for The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian, attributes his romance with reading to The Snowy Day, a children’s picture book that featured a “brown” character like himself.

Most readers would be able to relate to those stories, but the missing plot component behind each of them is the “why.” Does a lifelong love of reading really just come down to firing endorphins? Not quite. This is where science comes into play.

Your brain on books

The human brain is very creative, and we naturally tend to visualize whatever we think about. While the average reader is no Einstein (who famously performed visual thought experiments that led to all of his breakthroughs), the act of reading naturally triggers complex visualizations. In other words, getting lost in a great book is a highly immersive experience that makes our brains come alive.

In fact, reading about something is the same as experiencing it, at least neurologically-speaking. The same regions of the brain stimulated by the real thing are also stimulated by words. So, while a literary fiction reader may have a harder time suspending disbelief compared to a J.R.R. Tolkien apologist, both readers are having vicarious experiences. Nonfiction readers are just as susceptible: a good memoir or guidebook allows readers to retrace the experiences of the writer in the same way fiction does.

Story structure itself also plays a role in why we start reading and keep reading throughout adult life. A story with a beginning, middle, and end is food for the brain because it makes us think in sequence and links cause and effect. Neuroscientists actually encourage parents to read to their children because it extends attention spans while the brain is growing.

Which begs the question: does the brain react in the same way to other story mediums the same way it does to text? Not quite. Believe it or not, reading has a unique power.

How reading is different from listening or watching

According to one Carnegie Mellon study, reading actually activates brain growth. Participants underwent a six-month reading program and were actually able to increase white matter in the language area of the brain, which could lower the risk of mild cognitive impairment (MCI) associated with Alzheimer’s disease. Critical literary reading can even give the brain a real workout in complex cognitive functions.

In other words, reading can benefit non-readers, too. People who prefer to get their story fix via television or video game narratives can be trained to become better readers, which will help them maintain cognitive ability and increase attention spans over time.

Reading has even been shown to make readers more empathetic. As psychologists from Washington University in St. Louis discovered, “readers mentally simulate each new situation encountered in a narrative.” By doing so, they become “more alert to the inner lives of others.” This would certainly explain why many introverts also happen to be bookworms. Reading not only tickles their fancies in the right way—it also helps them develop sympathetic social skills apart from high-stress social environments.

woman-reading-a-book-352870787Reading between the lines

As it turns out, there are plenty of good reasons to read and keep reading. In an age of increasing technological distractions, readers, writers, and publishers alike can find solace in the fact that what they do helps us all stay grounded. It certainly doesn’t hurt that reading makes us smarter, too.

A lifelong love of reading may very well be one of the best habits (or addictions) you’ll ever have.

Whoa, Nelly!

Hey! Wow! The post you just tried to access is specialized content for users at a different place in their publishing journey. That probably sounds really insulting or maybe annoying. Sorry about that. Try checking out our all-access material on Marketing & Promotions.

Common Distribution Questions

man-carrying-a-pile-of-books-at-office-275532284Our distribution partner, Vearsa, offers answers to some frequently-asked questions. If you have a question, please email

How can I improve my digital sales?

It’s all about the metadata. The easiest, fastest, and indeed the cheapest way to improve your sales is to look at your metadata in detail, and improve it to help discoverability. Metadata is information about your book that quickly and easily lets potential readers know what it is about, and to find it in the first place. You’ll want to examine your BISAC codes, keywords, descriptions, author bios and any pother data affiliated with your book. A good place to start is to choose a similar successful book in your genre and analyze what metadata they have. You can go into your Quillstr book and change your metadata at any time, so feel free to experiment.

Should I supply my titles to libraries?

This one’s easy. Yes you should.

Libraries are contributing significant sales and there’s a growing trend of people moving towards digital libraries. While major retailers still tend to contribute the largest portion of sales, the libraries continue to gain ground.

Many publishers are concerned about a lack of DRM with libraries but in fact libraries apply the same DRM to ePub files as standard retailers.

Another common concern is library pricing. One reassuring point is that libraries will pay a higher price if they wish to make the title available to more than one user at a time and this can sometimes be 4/5 times the price you set in your metadata.

Put simply, though, more distribution outlets equals more sales.

Why is a different price displayed than the one I set in my metadata?

Retailers will add sales tax to your price where necessary and may also choose to discount the price if the title fits in with an existing promotion or offer.

Regardless, your earnings will always be based on the price you set in the metadata, not the display price. You can also experiment with different pricing to try and hit a specific price point if you wish.

What are the lead times for seeing new titles or updates on the retailer sites?

The majority of retailers will display new titles or updates somewhere between 48 hours and 1 week. But some of the channels we supply deliver titles to numerous other channels and it can take time for the new titles of updates to filter through to these outlets. Usually, a maximum of 3-4 weeks would apply.

metadataA key point in making sure your titles are displayed quickly is to make sure your metadata is correct and your files meet the retailer requirements.

From time to time there may be delays so if you need to have a title displayed on a specific date, it’s best to give plenty of notice, just to be safe.

Don’t Blow Your Cover: Book Cover Design Tips

“You can’t judge a boo—“

Oh yes, you can. And you do. And your readers and potential readers will, too.

So how do you design your book cover to make sure it will appeal to people who will want to read your book?

What is most important to remember is that you are designing an ebook—not a print book that is being shrunk down to fit a digital retailer. This book’s cover has to look good on the digital shelves. Like a traditional bookstore, it also needs to fit on the shelves, meaning it has to be the right size to fit the space (more on that below).

Match the cover with the contents.

You’ve written a book in a certain genre. Make sure the book cover is similar (but not the same!) as other books in the genre. Your cover is an unwritten promise to the reader that if she picks your book up because of what it looks like; the contents inside will deliver on that promise.

Keep it simple!

Just put the essentials of your book on the cover: an image, title, author name, series title (if you have one), and a bestseller or other type of accolade (if you have one). That’s all you need. Use a font that will make your text legible no matter what size your cover is in.

Keep it legal!

If you choose to use a cover image on the Quillstr site, you’re all set—we know our images can be used on commercial products such as your book. But if you have your own image, please be certain you have permission to use it. If you’re not absolutely certain you have permission, contact the copyright holder. If you still aren’t sure, just go choose another image. None of us wants you to get into legal hot water.

Make it the right size!

There are three size elements you need to consider when formatting your cover. The file size, which is how many megabytes your cover file is, the height and width of the cover (the dimensions), and the resolution, which is how many pixels it has.

Does it look good online?

Your book will be distributed through eretailers, and your book cover will be displayed on digital shelves. Yes, the cover might look fantastic blown up to your full screen, but do you think anybody but you is going to do that? (hint: NO). Make sure your book cover looks good in a thumbnail view because that is the view that will be seen the most.

As always, if you have any questions about book cover design or anything else, please email us at

Should You Set Your Price to $0.00?

Gabriel’s Inferno Series:
Gabriel’s Inferno, Sylvain Reynard, Book #1
Gabriel’s Rapture, Sylvain Reynard, Book #2

Not an Amazon customer? Buy a Gabriel’s Inferno series book from Barnes & Noble or Kobo.

Gabriel’s Inferno is another erotic romance series that has hit the New York Times bestseller list in the wake of Fifty Shades of Grey. Sylvain Reynard even started writing his (I’m going to use the male pronoun though no one is 100% certain yet if the author is male or female.) material as Twilight fan fiction, just like E.L. James.

But this series is different than many of the Fifty Shades copycats. Readers feel the Gabriel’s Inferno series is more sophisticated and more emotionally intense. The hero is Gabriel Emerson, a professor rather than a white collar businessman (though he’s as dominating as the typical billionaire!) and the books contain an element of lush world-building courtesy of this character’s passion for the story of Beatrice and Dante (there’s your “Inferno!”) and the Italian setting. The heroine is former student Julia Mitchell. I have to say, the back cover copy is pretty compelling: “[A] wildly passionate tale of one man’s escape from his own personal hell as he tries to earn the impossible…forgiveness and love.”

Sure, Christian Grey “tutors” Ana in the fine arts of desire, but here we have a genuine teacher-student trope.

What else separates Gabriel’s Inferno from other erotic romance books? Here’s a snippet from an interview Sylvain Renault did with USA Today’s Happy Ever After blog: “I think that leaving things to the imagination is what creates seduction. Sometimes one can have too much of a good thing. Part of the thrill of sex is the anticipation, so as a writer I’m conscious of that fact. In my view, sex is a mystery. If one focuses on the mechanics of sex or the awkwardness of two human beings communing physically, it takes away from the mysterious and sometimes transcendent aspects of it.”

Fifty Shades of Grey is quite graphic. It’s like a flashy American sports car. Hey, nothing wrong with that! But if you’re looking for more European sophistication, Gabriel’s Inferno by Sylvain Reynard might be the reading choice for you.

The Writing Life: Cartoon of the Week

Sara Fawkes’s Anything He Wants (Dominated by the Billionaire) Series:
Book #1: The Meeting
Book #2: The Contract
Book #3: The Secret
Book #4: The Rescue
Book #5: The Betrayal

Not an Amazon customer? Buy Anything He Wants from Barnes & Noble or Kobo.

Sara Fawkes’s Anything He Wants (Dominated by the Billionaire) is an e-serial, which means that the book was written in short installments and you can buy them one at a time until you’ve enjoyed the full story.

Now that Book #5: The Secret is available, a complete volume of Books #1-5 is in production. It’s available for pre-order now, and will be available on November 27th. Most erotic readers didn’t want to wait for the complete volume, which explains why the Anything He Wants (Dominated by the Billionaire) series is all over the bestseller lists.

Update! Each installment now has a name which we added to the series list above: The Meeting, The Contract, The Secret, The Betrayal and The Rescue!

Anything He Wants features billionaire (of course!) Jeremiah Hamilton and temp Lucy Delacourt. One of the reviewers called it “scorching hot sex with a dominant stranger in semi-public,” which kind of makes me laugh, but which kind of nails it. (Pun intended.) These are really short episodes (The first one clocks in at about 8,000 words) which means you’re not going to have time for a lot of plot. You ARE going to have time for some of that super hot sex. So, it depends on what kind of reader are you. Do you like a shot of heat, don’t bother me with all of that pesky plot development crap? Or do you like a more developed story?

Oh, one more thing. If you click through on Amazon to check out the books, definitely take a look at her Amazon author page. Her author photo is cleavage. Just, cleavage. Well, it certainly got my attention, and it’s consistent with the branding of her Anything He Wants hot erotic romance novels. Can’t really argue with that!

In any case, for fans of the dominant billionaire “educates” a normal girl like you and me erotic reading subgenre, Sara Fawkes’s Anything He Wants (Dominated by the Billionaire) might just do the trick. (NO pun intended!) And besides, the first episode is only .99. Why not try it?

RWA 2016 Supports Indie Publishing

Book #1: Fifty Shades of Grey, E.L. James
Book #2: Fifty Shades Darker, E.L. James
Book #3: Fifty Shades Freed, E.L. James

Not an Amazon customer? Buy a Fifty Shades series book from Barnes & Noble or Kobo.

It’s hard to think of what can be said about Fifty Shades that hasn’t already been said. On the other hand, you might have landed on this page because you still haven’t read it and want to find out more. So, what’s the deal?

Fifty Shades of Grey is an erotic romance (erotica) trilogy that follows Ana’s sexual awakening at the hands (and other body parts) of billionaire businessman Christian Grey. The books were originally written as Twilight fan fiction meaning that they were a kind of homage to the relationship between Edward and Bella. Except with a hell of a lot more sex. So we’re talking about alpha male sexual (but consensual!) domination over a mild, innocent-like “normal woman.”

There’s definitely the fantasy of having the richest, most gorgeous, most untameable guy pick YOU as THE ONE he wants to spend his time, money and body on. And that explains why the series is so damn popular. It’s the BDSM (bondage-domination-sadism-masochism) angle that throws a lot of people at first. But the way E.L. James has written Fifty Shades, it seems to me that Ana is enjoying most every bit of Christian’s attention.

How to compare some of the erotic romance (erotica) series that have come after Fifty Shades? Well, Sylvia Day’s Bared to You, Reflected in You, Entwined with You AKA the Crossfire series is actually a lot hotter. Sara Fawkes’s e-series is super-hot as well, and it’s done in small bite-sized (heh) episodes as opposed to being in long book-length volumes.

If you haven’t read at least the first Fifty Shades book yet (Nobody’s judging! It’s just that you might consider making the investment so you can talk to people about it at cocktail parties, LOL) it’s a fun book to try. If you already read it and feel like you need something hotter, then click on Sylvia Day’s Crossfire Series and read Bared to You and Reflected in You. Those should be hot enough!