If you’ve self-published an ebook, you’re probably aware of the disclaimer most sites hold regarding pricing: namely, that they’re allowed to change the selling price of your ebook whenever they want, without reason given or consultation.
Practically speaking, this generally comes into effect when there’s a discontinuity between prices set on different sites. For example, if you’re charging $2.99 on Amazon and $.99 on Smashwords, Amazon will most likely adjust the price of your ebook downward so it’s competitive with its competitor. Some writers have even found a way to game the system in order to give away free copies of their books permanently, and rather than just use the five free days Amazon Kindle Select users are entitled to, they price their ebooks as free on Smashwords then self-report until Amazon lowers their selling price to zero.
Here’s the problem: if, at any point, a writer wants to push the price of their ebook up, coordinating all these sites’ pricing information (and we’re not just talking Amazon and Smashwords – there’s also Nook Publishing, and if you manage sites like Kobo, etc. independently, those can also factor in) can be a logistical nightmare. Smashwords’ distributors can take from one to three weeks to reprice your book. Amazon won’t raise the price if it’s offered for less elsewhere. And who has any idea how Barnes & Nobles manages their Nook site; I can’t quite figure out who’s buying self-published books over there, anyways.
The solution seems, at first glance, simple: just withdraw your book from publication until you’re down to one distributor (ideally the one you’re making the most sales on) then add back the other retailers at your new price point. The problem is that this leads to lost sales metrics and an effect on your overall ranking, as Smashwords so carefully warns when you go to “unpublish” a book.
I’m not sure what the solution is, but self-published authors may want to consider this difficulty when they’re choosing what platforms to use and where to set their original price point. While you can always adjust the List Price of your book upwards (and may want to consider doing so, since it can give customers the impression that they’re getting a deal), moving it up from a lower price point once you’ve published on multiple platforms is nowhere near as easy as you’d think.
I’d love to hear how other authors are dealing with the issue of having publishers slash their ebook prices, since I couldn’t find information online with some quick googling. If you’re selling across platforms and want to raise an ebook price back to its original list price after your distributor has lowered it, what’s your strategy to coordinate all the different timelines involved?
I’m currently seeking beta readers/advance reviewers for my upcoming collection of sci-fi and speculative fiction stories, SHORT FRICTIONS. If you’re interested, please click here to find out more.