Let’s talk about price

03 Oct

So I’ve decided to talk about an issue which affects all authors in self publishing and even those who have gone the traditional route….price!! It’s a bit of a contentious issue but I feel that it needs to be talked about. Why am I talking about it now? Well remember that trip I took down to the US embassy all those months ago because of taxes and the IRS? Remember how long it took me to find the right place and all the ridiculous rules that were in place? Who here remembers why I took that arduous trip?

I DO! It was because if I didn’t get a US tax identification number any and all monies I made from book sales in the US would get a super tax of 30%!! Now that seems like a very high number to me even if it doesn’t seem massive to others.

Well I got a letter back from the IRS this week….after all that grief they rejected my application! And told me that I’d need to go back to the embassy to reapply and take down all my identification again. I’m sorry but I’m still the same person I was when I originally applied. I haven’t changed just because my application got rejected. Sadly, I don’t think they’ll just take my word for it. I thought I’d sent the right evidence for them to process the application but no, an invoice saying that you’re receiving royalties from the States apparently isn’t good enough.

But I’m a few months older and much wiser now so here’s what you need to do to get this number if you’re looking at doing it yourself.

1 – Get a letter from whichever company is paying you! This is the most important step and can take a while to get sorted so this is what I advise you to do first. Smashwords have an online form for you to fill in but it does take a while to get from them to your door so apply for it pretty much as soon as you decide to publish!

2 – You’re going to need to fill in a W-7 Form. Now they’re going to want to see proof of ID so get that passport out! Now you can get your ID noterised by an official for a fee or you can trek yourself down to the nearest US embassy and they’ll do it for you – Free of charge 😉 AND they’ll check out the form to make sure you’ve filled it in properly.

3 – Give them your payment letter and your complete W-7 Form and then you’re going to have to wait for them to get back to you.

4 – Wait. Times will vary.

5 – Once you’ve got your TIN number you’re going to need to fill in the W-8BEN form and send that off to the company that’s paying you.

Right so now that’s out of the way let’s get on to the more important issue. Price.

I’m a UK based reader and writer but I spend so much time on the US versions of sites that I know those prices better than I know my own. Sadly I can’t buy books from sites that are stateside and this brings me back to the question of the day. What is an acceptable price for a book?

Now I know just how much time and effort goes into writing a book, editing a book, getting cover art for a book, marketing the book….Just thinking about the workload is making me tired…Sadly not all readers know just how much effort is involved in writing a book. When a writer sets a price for their book they’re basing it on how much time and effort has gone into getting that book from an idea into something that someone else can read.

If you’re an indie author then readers have to take a chance on you and they are often not willing to pay as much for your book as their bestselling author. So here’s what we as a writers have to do. We need to do some investigation work. I went and looked at all of my favourite author’s books and took note of their prices. I decided that my books were going to cost less than theirs. Not because I don’t think my books are as good or because I haven’t put as much time into creating them…No I did it because I’m quite aware that I’m not a global bestseller and readers are going to be making similar comparisons. They might be in between series’ or waiting for the next book in their favourite author’s series and this makes them look around. And there they see you, less than what they’d be paying for that author’s book and think maybe I’m up for something new. Maybe I’m up for a risk and they click that little button that says buy!!

Now the other issue I have is cross continental pricing. This really annoys me. When I see a book on (where I spend a great deal of time) I’m all for supporting my fellow indie so I go for the button that says buy and am redirected to the UK site where the price has jumped…..significantly. Sadly this really deters me from buying a book and I’m sure it puts others off too. I hear writers complain that their UK sales are so and this is probably a contributing factor. Yes I know you have to factor in VAT which currently stands at 20% but still if an ebook costs $5.64 and then £6.27 in the UK, readers in the UK are going to know something isn’t right and they will not buy the book. I think my ranting is almost over. So now I put the question to all of you. What do you think is an acceptable price for an ebook? What do you think is an acceptable price for an ebook by an indie author? Let’s hear your thoughts on the matter!


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6 responses to “Let’s talk about price

  1. Mandy

    03/10/2011 at 8:59 pm

    Wow that sucks. I’ve always noticed the pricing and it is a tad annoying but then if I like the sample chapters etc then I don’t mind paying a little extra after all we will in rip if Britian. I have paid between £5 – £7 for an ebook but I have to really want to read the rest of the book and it has to be at least a good 400-500 pages long for that price

    • Jennyt82

      11/10/2011 at 7:26 pm

      I completely agree with you Mandy! If it’s an ebook for £5-7 it had better be good.

  2. Heidi Ruby Miller

    05/10/2011 at 12:40 pm

    Fascinating topic!

    I always look for the standard $2.99 for e-books and hesitate to buy any priced higher, whether it’s indie or traditional press. These same books should be 2.21 in the UK store and EUR 2,99 , but I believe you’re saying sometimes these books would be listed at a higher price in non-US Amazon markets?

    That’s interesting. Do the publishers get to choose the pricing for non-US stores?

    I have an indie e-book out there (for $2.99) and my prices in the UK and German stores are comparable.

    Here’s what Kindle Direct Publishing had to say about UK and DE prices: and list prices that are set automatically based on your US Dollar list price are converted using the exchange rates in effect on the date that they were initially calculated. If the converted list price would be outside of the minimum or maximum list price we accept for the currency, your list price will be converted so that it is equal to the applicable minimum or maximum list price for that currency. You can check the list prices automatically set for your existing books by clicking “edit rights, royalty and pricing” link under actions of each title. You will see updated prices that are converted from your US Dollar list price using the exchange rates from 7/8/2011.
    The list price you provide is VAT-EXCLUSIVE. The VAT we will add for sales to customers in EU countries from and will be 15%. VAT rates, where applicable, vary for other countries.

    So, that still doesn’t explain why some of the prices are higher–or maybe I just don;t understand the legalese. 😉

    Nevertheless, good to ponder, and I hope someone has clearer thoughts on it than me.

    • Jennyt82

      05/10/2011 at 4:00 pm

      I think to some extent VAT has a role to play. All prices set by the authors are VAT exclusive! This is something I take into consideration when I’m pricing my books but for those of you that aren’t aware of it you probably don’t even think about it. VAT is a UK tax that WILL be applied to the final cost of your book and at the moment is 20%
      So whatever you price your book at for buyers in the states you have to remember your UK buyers will see a price that is 20% higher (before the strangeness of conversion rates is factored in) than buyers in the US this can be really off putting. Think about it your $2.99 book is going to be about £2.35 for your potential UK readers! That is no where near what basic conversion says it should be. The post VAT price works out to be approximately $3.70 and the higher the book is priced the bigger the cost difference will be.
      My advice? Set the pricing yourself to make it comparable and never forget the importance of the .99. People like numbers like that and not weird ones like 0.86 it makes them think you’re more professional and makes them more likely to buy a copy.

  3. Nicole

    11/10/2011 at 7:04 pm

    Personally any e-book I’d want to pay about £5 max as otherwise I feel like I might as well and go out and buy the hardcopy. That becomes harder when you consider indie writers some of whom only have their books available as an e-book. With an indie writer I guess I’d probably not want to pay more than £3, if I’ve never read any of their work. Does that help?
    As a side note I’m hoping to get a kindle in a couple of weeks for my birthday :D, at least one of your books will be purchased!! 🙂

    • Jennyt82

      11/10/2011 at 7:28 pm

      It helps immensely. It’s good to get an idea of what readers think is an acceptable price for a book and it’s awesome that you’re getting the kindle. Happy birthday in advance. 🙂


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