A Discussion of the 99 Cents Price Point for e-Books


Newly published e-book authors as a general rule price their first books on Amazon.com or other booksellers at $.99. Why?

Melissa Foster shares her thoughts in a recently published Huffington Post article. I have excerpted parts here. To read the whole article, go to http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/12/20/ebooks-cheap-price_n_1160383.html?ref=books#comments

Independent authors are rallying around the controversial 99-cent price point. Some authors feel the 99-cent price point devalues their hard work, while others feel that readers will not take a chance on new authors at a higher price point.


Readers are scooping up ebooks for 99 cents, that alone speaks of a demand for material at that price point.


Let’s look at the dollars and cents of the 99-cent price point for independent authors. If an author is self-published through Amazon KDP, he or she earns 34 cents per 99-cent book sold. Not only do authors put time and energy into their writing, there are other associated costs to publishing a quality book, including cover artists ($125-3000), editors ($800-5000), marketing, etc. If you add up the average cover cost of $350, average editing job of $1400, then divide by 34 cents, the author would have to sell 5,134 books just to break even.


A self-published author that sells 100,000 ebooks at 99 cents, earns an annual salary of $34,000.  However, the average new author, after spending a year writing the book, will sell less than 100 copies. That’s $34, tops, in exchange for a year of the writer’s life.

If that same author is published through a small press and sells 100,000 copies, that author earns $12,000. To earn $40,000 per year, that author would have to sell 333,333 books per year. According to the Wall Street Journal, there are only 30 authors who have sold over 100,000 copies of their books, and only a dozen who have sold over 200,000.


Why, then, do authors post their books at such a low price?

Darcie Chan, bestselling author of The Mill River Recluse, states, “Since I had never published anything before and was completely unknown as a writer, I thought the 99-cent price point would be best to encourage readers to give my novel a chance. It’s true that the royalty rate at that price point is much lower, but I saw foregoing some royalty income as a tradeoff. I decided that the 99-cent price would be an investment in my future writing endeavors and would give me the best chance at meeting my goals of gradually building a readership and getting some feedback on my work.”


Melissa Foster is the award-winning author of three International bestselling novels, Megan’s Way, Chasing Amanda, and Come Back to Me.

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One response »

  1. Pingback: The Complete Guide to Self-Publishing: Everything You Need to Know to Write, Publish, Promote and Sell Your Own Book – Online Book Assembler

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