E-book Length and Pricing
By: Theresa Oliver
How long should your e-book be and what price should you charge? The only one who can truly answer this question is you. A better question is: how long must my e-book be to effectively tell the story? Keep in mind that an e-book is, indeed, a book. Most full-length, stand-alone novels are between 70K to 100K words (a long length). In my humble opinion, if your book is over 100K words, then it should be revised to be more concise. Long ago, I had to revise my first book, condensing the first five chapters into one. The result was a much tighter, better story. Novellas are usually between 30K to 50K words. Trending today, many e-books are between 50K to 70K so that authors can write more books quicker and can offer each at a lower price, which leads to the next part of your question: pricing.
For a first-time author, or an author who is not established or well known within literary circles, it's better to keep your prices under $2.99. Once you are a well-established author, you can charge much higher prices for your books. But, the question you must ask yourself now is: do I want my story read? With pricing, there is a fine line and experimenting with pricing for yourself is necessary.
Oftentimes, may authors books between 50K and 70K are priced at .99 cents in order to make it available to more readers. After all, many readers are more apt to take a chance on a .99 cent e-book from a first time author. If they don't care for the book, there is no great loss. But on the flip side, there are some readers who think a book is discounted because it has inferior quality, even though that is not the case.
A good rule is to sell your first books in a series for less, and then charge more for the later books. Then, after the whole series is complete, the books can be packaged and sold as a boxed set for $4.99. So, it's best to offer the first book in the series for .99 cents, then the second and third books for $1.99, and then the boxed set for $3.99 or $4.99. However, there are some authors that, after other books in a series are made available, that offer their first books for free. This hooks the reader and, if they like the series, will pay more for subsequent books. Also, keep in mind that if you are only charging .99 cents for your books, make them a shorter length so they don't take as much time to write. After all, would you want to spend months writing a book just to sell it for .99 cents? However, make sure that the transitions are in place and that the story isn't rushed. The story, at any length, must still be well written.
In short, entertain the reader and give them his or her money's worth. It's more important to get your book into the reader's hands. And you have only one shot to make the reader a fan. Make it count. Once, I downloaded a book for free, but I fell in love with the characters and downloaded the rest of the books in the series, paying between $2.99 to $3.99 for each book. Write the best prose possible, no matter what you charge for the book.
As I said above, there is a lot to consider when it comes to e-book length and pricing, but before you make these decisions, the first thing you must do is to research other bestselling books in the same genre as your book. Look to see the ranking of the authors, the price of their books, and the length of the books. Oftentimes, the .99 cent books are around 100 to 160 pages long, which are shorter e-books. One well-known series author I once found during my research charged .99 cents for each book in her series, and then charged $4.99 for the boxed set. Then she went on to charge the same in the next series. And she gave the reader great stories. the result? She became a New York Times' bestselling author.
So, to answer your question, it's really up to you. Make the book long enough to tell the story, and don't out price yourself for the market. Then, once you've made a name for yourself like Steven King or Jude Deveraux, then charge $5.99 or more for your books with my blessing. Happy writing!