99 cents? 2 dollars?

Dear reader, what is the worth of a story?

Yes, you have probably guessed it, I am contemplating to ask a modest amount of money for the Hilda stories that are to come out (and perhaps other ones as well). This is not a new thing for me, I have contemplated this many a time, and each time I dismissed it as something I can’t decide upon.

Lately however, I have tried to keep an eye on the amount of work, time and energy that goes into writing the stories, and that is quite substantial. I have talked about this with a few people already, and they agree that asking a small donation for the work is in place. In several reviews I found here and there I also read that people would be willing to pay for the Hilda stories, the more as they are getting better (for which I am very grateful. The getting better part, I mean.)

But what would be a proper price? There are rules of thumb, which simply determine the number of words that should decide on the price. Some opinions state that a low price is good, so it is affordable for almost everyone. Other opinions state that once you started selling e-books for 99 cents, you are forced to keep your prices low. And others again say that many people will deem it a bad book if you only dare ask 99 cents for it.

So I turn to you, dear reader. Probably you are one of the people who has read one or more of the Hilda stories, so you have, I think, a feeling for what I am talking about. What would be a proper price for such a story? Seven of them are available for free, so it should be possible to make an educated guess, after reading them.

Would you lay down $2.99 of your hard-earned pay for an e-book version of the next Hilda story?

5 thoughts on “99 cents? 2 dollars?”

  1. I think it’s a good idea as you spend a lot of time for writing. For something like the last two Hilda Stories, I’m fine with up to 3 Euro. And yes, you can be sure I will get it 😉

  2. I’d even pay for 2nd editions of the already finished works edited and touched up.

    I’ve payed $.99 to amazon for one of the books, despite it being “free”. It happened to be easier for me that way so I didn’t even hesitate.

    If $.99 means the same “low-budget” production, at your astonishing pace, I wouldn’t even flinch. If 2.99 means you hire a professional editor, and I have to wait a year between each book, I’d certainly be sad.

    I’d say most of the books I’d pay $1.99usd for. The longer ones obviously more.

    Let us Hilda lovers pay for the early release, then use the profits to hand it off to an editor or two and charge more for the “2nd” print to sell to the grammar police.

    1. A response to Cen:
      I had to grin at the ‘astonishing speed’. The fact that I put the books on Amazon so quickly is that they are already written in the course of almost 3 years. They have been available on Smashwords for a lot longer. It is only since a handful of months that I found out that people outside the USA can now also publish on Amazon directly (2 years ago this was not possible, I tried then).

      And thank you for your reaction!

  3. My wife has a good expression – it’s not unique to her but it was she who introduced me to it – and I think it’s one to think about in this instance: What the market will bear. Price has nothing to do with cost or value. People are only willing to pay what they are willing to pay. The question is not what your writing is worth but what other people think it is worth. There are too many people undervaluing their writing in order to get know. This has a precedent in the loss leader strategy where a product sold often below cost price to stimulate other profitable sales. Writers with a decent back catalogue can do well using this approach, offering the first book in a series for a pittance and hoping that the readers will like what they read and be willing to pay a fair price to read more. The catch is that even those with only a single book are happy to let them go for 99¢ or less. In your case you do have a number of books so I, personally, wouldn’t give away more than I felt I had to do. Yes, perhaps, have a sale when a new book comes out but not for too long. I think $2.99 is a fair price for a book like yours but what’s to stop them hoovering up your free books and then moving on? Customer loyalty? Perhaps, but people only really value something when it’s cost them, be it life experience, or a book. Until they’ve paid something they probably don’t even see themselves as customers. Just a few thoughts. I really don’t have a clue what works online. It’s not as if my books are flying off the shelves. I’ve sold far more paperbacks than ebooks.

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