You get what you pay for.

There was some conversation in one of my author loops recently, after a couple of authors noticed that prices on their ebooks had been raised by their publisher. That opened up a long thread of comments, firstly filled with worry.

“Readers won’t pay that.”

“No one wants to buy ebooks that are priced higher than $5.”

“Too expensive.”

I admit, at first, I wondered the same thing. But then I wondered some more.

Sure, the internet romance world is flooded by $0.99 specials and freebies. With the ladies of Love, Lust and Laptops, I have a couple of freebies myself. It’s a great idea and helps new readers connect with an author.

But does that mean all our books should sit a bargain-basement prices? No.

Sometimes I get discouraged because I see the bestsellers are the folks who often price themselves at a buck or two. Great deal, right? I admit I’ve snapped up a few of these cheap books myself. Often, once I read them, I’m disappointed. I don’t want to say all cheap books are worthless, but there are a lot of them out there with bad grammar, bad stories and bad cover art. And at that point, paying $0.99 isn’t such a deal anymore.

I don’t mind paying a little more, knowing I’m getting a good product. Remember the old adage, “You get what you pay for?” It’s often true. If you go too cheap, it can bite you in the bottom.

It’s sort of like umbrellas. I’ve bought a lot of cheap umbrellas in my life, the cheap and cheerful ones you can find at a dollar store. Invariably, they break or the wind snaps them. When I’m standing in the rain, getting soaked, holding a broken umbrella, I’m not so cheerful. However, when I’ve spent a few dollars on a well-crafted umbrella, it takes care of me. It keeps me dry and holds up in the worst storms.

Screen shot 2011-04-12 at 2.16.05 PM

I don’t want my books to be like dollar store umbrellas. I want to be the umbrella that lasts a long time, helping you feel good. I want to be worth every penny you spend on me. And I can guarantee, for those few dollars, you got a lot of hard work in return, from me and from the good folks at my publishers.

In the end, undervaluing ourselves isn’t the answer. When you provide a good product, people don’t mind paying. You’ll still find my books on sale here and there, but am I just giving it away?  No.

I’m worth more than that.



27 thoughts on “You get what you pay for.

  1. Remember the good old days when books were never 3 bucks? I was talking to Jessica Cale about this. How we survived 10 years ago when we had to pay eight or ten bucks for a book without the benefit of 60,000 reviews first to tell us if we would like it or not. I absolutely do not mind paying more than five bucks for a book. I know how hard the author works. And have been times where have purposely not bought on Amazon and gone to Kobo despite Amazon’s 99 cent sale. Because I’m tired of authors getting ripped off.


  2. My feedback from readers is that they’ll pay for books as long as no one is pricing a 10K book at $5.99. I started with epubbing in 2003, and we used to marvel at how the definition of “novel” changed to meet the demand of the e-market. I have many feels on how artists need to value their work and not shortchange ourselves. Like you said, though, we all need to create a product worth its money and make the best books we can write.


    • Absolutely, Julia. And in no way is my post an endorsement for overpricing either. The price should always reflect the product, and savvy readers will know what is worth it. Thanks for joining the discussion.


  3. Here! Here!

    And a couple of additional thoughts …

    My husband and I used to run a miniature golf course (true story), and we ran a special where folks could get a free lunch with their round of golf. No lie, we had a hard time giving those hot dogs away … but when we started charging $1 for the deal, people became interested. I don’t exactly understand the phenomenon. Perhaps it has something to do with the old adage, “There’s no such thing as a free lunch!”

    In a similar vein–we did run the place for 11 years, so I guess I picked up a thing or two–when it came time to set our prices, I always looked to movie theater pricing for reference. I think you can apply the same principle to books. People pay upwards of $10 for a two hour (if they’re lucky) entertainment experience. An eBook costing half that provides two to four hours of entertainment, plus you get to enjoy the story as many times as you’d like. A grand bargain by any estimation!


    • Thanks DawnMarie. I think there’s a book in that minigolf experience! 🙂 Thanks for your comments. A valid piece of entertainment is hard to come by these days, in the world of Sharknado and Kardashians. I am happy to pay for some real entertainment that someone worked hard to provide.


  4. I had a conversation with my book club about this over the weekend. Everyone agreed they would easily pay $5.99-$8.99 if it were for an author they knew could deliver a good product. However, they all agreed they would be hesitant to take a chance on a new author or one they hadn’t read before unless it had been recommended by a friend.

    Many said they had taken a chance on a $0.99 book and been disappointed.

    So the big question is developing that readership. However, I think that is a question looming over every author’s head regardless of price point these days.


    • Very true, Kailynn. We all have to make so many decisions in this business. Some pay off, some don’t. Some bring us readers, some bring us haters. At the end of the day, we try to make a good product and hope it resonates with someone.


  5. Good blog, Rosanna. When a reader looks at a price, they need to check to see if the author published it and weigh that into the price equation. Very often the difference in a 3.99 price point and a 5.99 price point is the 3.99 book is self-pubbed and the 5.99 book is with a publisher.

    Since I have books both ways, I know my overhead is not that of my publisher, so I as a self-pubbed author can do more things and have more leeway on my pricing philosophy.

    My publisher has been in business a long time, has stayed in business when other e-publishers packed up their tents and disappeared into the night. She has found the pricing method that has gotten her employees and authors paid and kept the doors open. I admire her for finding that magic formula that balances the business needs and the needs of the reading public. It is not easy. Nothing about the e-book business has been easy and I have been in it since 1998.

    I’m just grateful that readers want to read my books — at any price. 🙂


  6. If an author is one of my favorites and I love the series I might pay a higher price but not for authors I don’t know…now also if the prices are raised many of us readers will not buy the book no matter if we love them….so it is a double edge sword…. I might pay 5.00 for a book by Sandrine Gasq-Dion, Charlie Richards, and so on but even though I love them ten to one I probably won’t. Many readers give up certain items so that they can buy a book to loose themselves into because they are in a different price gage… I have bought books that were close to 7.00 buy some great authors and was very disappointed (grammer issues, misspelled words, and so on)…. I am just lucky that only two of my author’s have prices that range from 5 to 6 dollars..the others are close to 4.00….now I would pay 6.00 for a paperback but not for a kindle book…. m/f authors did this and I quit reading their books because I just couldn’t afford to do so….m/m had better price ranges but if they go to high they will loose readers also….I know that sounds bad but I am just a reader…


    • It doesn’t sound bad at all, and thanks for commenting. I’m not advocating high prices because we all have budgets. I know I do. LOL And I can’t spend unlimited funds on any books. But when I look for free books, I usually turn to my local library, and they also offer ebooks. That way, nothing lost and no money spent! 🙂


  7. I love this piece. I did want to say that I think the idea of paying $6.00 for a paperback is a low estimate. I don’t have any bookstores locally (I live in the boonies) but even if I drive the half hour to Walmart, the paperbacks are $8.99 and higher. I’m totally willing to spend more on authors that I’m familiar with, and I understand the constraints of a budget. But on the other side of things, I think the price of many things are going up, and books are on that list.

    I see a lot of new authors employing the $.99 strategy, and I do think it’s useful for building that early audience, but I think if it’s used too often on novel length books, then that audience comes to expect all of the books to be released at that price point, and may run when future books are released at a higher rate.


    • I hear you, Keisha, and thanks for your comments. It’s such a fine balance, knowing how to price an item, and very often the author isn’t even involved (if working with a publisher). We do our best and hope it flies. 🙂


  8. Rosanna, great post! I agree with every word. Now, confession: all my books are at $.99. They are all full novels [55K to ~100K word mark], and I slaved over making them perfect [or, well, as perfect as humanly possible]. For me, I’m hoping to build a bit of a readership [“Look! This cheap-ass book appears to have been proof-read! Maybe I should buy another one from this author!”], but once I have a significant body of work, I’ll likely raise my prices [I’m thinking $2.99 to $4.99-ish] with a couple of loss-leaders remaining in free/$.99 land. I agree, though, with what keishakpage writes above, about buyer expectations, and I fear that I’ve only contributed to that mentality. Damn, but it’s a hard choice.


    • Thanks Roberta. It is a hard choice. We do what we can and I’m sure we’ve all learned things from our various experiences. This is such a journey, isn’t it?


  9. I think the crux of the matter is that readers do not want to spend the same amount of money for an Ebook as for a paperback. I have see this in several of my favorite authors. Where their ebooks are priced (due to publishers) at $10-$14 depending on which site you buy from ie (Amazon, Barns and Noble) and the paperback is $15.99. This makes it really hard to continue to purchase from these authors as the pricing just does not make sense, especially when the overhead is less for an ebook rather than paperback- ie no paper, no shipping ect. The other thing that is hard to continue to buy from an author is if they are only giving me a 30-45 minute read but have priced their product at $4-$7. Granted i am a fairly fast reader but i want quality out of my time and money spent. I also know and have several books by authors that take that quantity style of publishing books, but still have quality writing, and they do price accordingly to the length.


    • Thanks Meghan. I absolutely agree Ebooks shouldn’t be priced the same as a print book. You are correct. The overhead is much less. Authors and publishers should definitely take length into consideration as well when pricing. It has to work for all concerned. 🙂


  10. I have a problem giving $5 or more for a book that’s under a hundred pages. I wouldn’t buy a paperback that was that small so I don’t want to buy a ebook that is. I’ve noticed a trend on Amazon where some authors have books that are part 1,2 and 3 all under 50 pages for 2.99 or more each. Maybe I’m cheap but I can’t help it.


    • I don’t blame you there at all, Sherry. The price has to fit the product, in my opinion as well. A novella should be priced accordingly. Thanks for reading!


  11. Great blog post!

    With so many 99 cent books out there, plus boxed sets (10 novels and sometimes more) priced at 99 cents to 1.99, it does make books priced at 5.00 plus seem expensive, unfortunately.

    It always amazes me that people will gladly hand over more than 5.00 for a fancy coffee that takes what…5 minutes to whip up, when a book priced the same as that coffee took over a year, sometimes longer to create.

    Coffee lasts 10 to 20 minutes to consume?

    I do believe you get what you pay for with SOME of these cheap books, but there are some wonderful books at that price as well, as the author tries to compete in the pricing with these books


    • Great analogy, Selena. I agree on all counts. I know I’ve gotten a whole lot more enjoyment out of my books than my fancy coffees…well, depending on the coffee and the book in question. LOL Thanks for visiting! 🙂


      • I agree completely with Selena. I really don’t understand the concept that books are “expensive” over a few dollars. People gladly pay for movies all the time. Even on cheap nights here (Toronto) you pay $6 for a movie. I think that’s a bargain but after I leave, the story is over.

        What is wrong with paying $6 for a book that entertains you for more hours and can entertain you again and again.

        I don’t get it.

        (I also don’t completely get the whole review thing where people buy books by commitee, but that’s just me)



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