What Value Do We Put on (Self-Published) Books? … by Darla Luke

We’ve discussed pricing on this blog many times, trying to figure out the “magic” number for a self-published, unknown (or relatively unknown) author to ask a reader to pay. It’s risky. Ask too much, and -we think- nobody will buy. Ask too little, and -we feel- it devalues the time, effort, teeth gnashing, blood, sweat, and yes, even tears we put into our work.

So … when I saw a self-published book that made the USA Today Top 150 list and priced at $12.00??? Let’s just say I hunted it down! Here’s what I found: It’s the fourth book in a popular “With Me in Seattle” series (remember back on this blog when we talked about the value of creating an on-going series?). The author, Kristen Proby, has done many blog tours. Goodreads is awash with positive reviews. Amazon has discounted her book for Prime participants, down to $10.80, but that’s still a lot for a self-published book. Obviously, if a reader is invested in a series, and wants the next story?? They will buy it.

My hat – if I had one – is off to Kristen! Way to go!!

Here are the self-published books that made the USA Today Top 150 Best-Selling Books list through the week ending Sunday 5-7-13*:

The Bet by Rachel Van Dyken (Self-published via Amazon Digital Services). This week #15 (last week #9) $0.99

Real by Katy Evans (Self-published via Amazon Digital Services). This week #21 (last week #18) $3.99

Twisted Perfection by Abbi Glines (Self-published via Amazon Digital Services). This week #29 (last week #8) $3.99

Suddenly Royal by Nichole Chase (Self-published via Amazon Digital Services). This week #31 (last week #200) $0.99

Promise Me Darkness by Paige Weaver (Self-published via Amazon Digital Services). This week #49 (last week #55) $0.99

Don’t Say A Word by Barbara Freethy (Self-published via Amazon Digital Services). This week #62 (last week #36) $0.99

Rock With Me by Kristen Proby (Self-published via CreateSpace). This week #69 (last week, not on the list) $12.00

Restore Me by J.L. Mac (Self-published via Amazon Digital Services). This week #83 (last week, not on the list) $2.99

Rock My Bed by Michelle A. Valentine (Self-published via Amazon Digital Services). This week #91 (last week #50) $3.99

Breathe Into Me by Amada Stone (Self-published via Amazon Digital Services). This week #108 (last week #182) $2.99

Marrying the Master by Chloe Cox (Self-published via Amazon Digital Services). This week #111 (last week #147) $0.99

*I’m human and make mistakes (a shock to my friends, I’m sure!). If there’s a book on this week’s list that I missed, please let me know. If I misspelled/mistyped an author’s name or book title, I’m extremely sorry.

Darla Luke

You can find me on Twitter @writer_at_work, “Like” my Facebook page at http://www.facebook.com/darlaluke, or visit my website: http://www.darlaluke.com


About Darla Luke

Darla Luke spent her childhood making up stories in her head, when she wasn't devouring every book she could get her hands on. If someone would have told her she'd be a writer when she grew up, she would have laughed herself silly. Now, writing is her passion, and she loves telling stories (especially ghost stories) and believes they all should have a happy ending.

Posted on May 10, 2013, in General and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 6 Comments.

  1. So interesting.


  2. Maggie Jaimeson

    Smashwords did a presentation at RT this past week, that was then shared via the web here: http://blog.smashwords.com/2013/05/new-smashwords-survey-helps-authors.html . They indicated the new “sweetspot” for novel pricing was $3.99, up one dollar from last year when it was $2.99. They also did a graph on novel lengths. The longer the better in terms of sales. Very interesting stuff and from a lot of data. It’s quite an interesting survey and data analysis based solely on self-pub statistics.

    I continue to be intrigued that the way the majority of self-pub books make it onto your list is with 99 cent pricing. I have not gone back to evaluate how many of those began as free books because I don’t have the time to follow it that closely. Ones that make it on the list with higher pricing appear to be series books (as you’ve pointed out with Kristen Proby), but still stay in the $2.99 to $3.99 range. All interesting and makes me wonder how far one can push it. Coker seems to think about to $5.99 is still a more than 100% return. So a $12 book is definitely an outlier in the same way Colleen Hoover, Amanda Hocking, or Hugh Howey are outliers for sudden millionaire success.

    As always, thanks for continuing to put up this data.


    • Maggie – it’s a great article, thank you for sharing it with us! Don’t forget that the majority of Smashwords authors do not include Amazon.com in their upload, since it’s easy to do it themselves and cut out the “middle man”. The article even stated that out of the 200,000 books in their survey, only 200 included Amazon. I’ll bet the survey would be different if Amazon.com was included!


      • Maggie Jaimeson

        I LOVE data and wish I had more time to analyze it. However, the one downside is that it can only tell us about the past. Without long term trends it really can’t tell us about the future. Example is the change from $2.99 to $3.99 in one year. Publishing industry is still VERY volatile. Having lived through the wild 1980’s of the computer industry, my bet is it’s going to stay volatile for another 5 years at least. All any of us can do is pay attention and make our best guess. Don’t strive to make the perfect decision because it doesn’t exist. In my mind, not getting books out there is the only way to loose.


      • I know, Maggie – me too! Data is only as good as the information fed into it, and the time we have to analyze it. I love you’re last line … words to live by! Thanks!


Thanks for your comment!

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: