Issue #29

How to price your ebook to maximize sales and profits

Digital Products Commerce
15 min read
In this Article

You’re finally ready to launch your ebook. The last step before releasing your ebook: giving it a price tag. Easy, right?

You might be tempted to come up with your ebook price based on gut feeling. You may want to “charge what you’re worth”… Or just pick any ebook price and run with it.

The problem with these approaches? They don’t account for what your reader’s looking for and expecting.

With the right price, you’ll set your ebook up for long-term success. You’ll attract your ideal readers and become a sustainable revenue stream.

With the wrong price, you’ll push readers away. If you charge too much, people won’t buy your ebook because it feels too expensive. And if you price too low, your target readers may question the value of your ebook and you’ll miss out on sales—especially if you’re pricing lower than most of your competitors.

To help you price your ebook, we’re sharing easy ways to research your market, choose the best platform to sell your ebook, and select the price that will maximize your sales once your ebook is published.

How to price your ebook to maximize sales and profits

3 factors that affect ebook pricing

Many ebooks sell for $5. Others have a $100 price tag (or higher!). How can the same type of a digital product have such a dramatically different price?

Just like pricing any other digital product, the optimal price for your ebook comes from your customers, and how much they value the material you're selling. Here are key factors that play a role in ebook pricing.

Factor 1: Industry and who you’re selling to

First, consider the field you’re in. Some industries don’t have many quality resources available (including ebooks) because the knowledge is simply harder to acquire and takes longer—think highly technical fields like engineering. Creators in this field can naturally charge more for ebooks.

On the other hand, there are fields with lots of creators and many resources that are free or low-cost, including videos, templates, ebooks, email courses, and more. When that’s the case, you’ll often drive more sales by pricing your ebooks lower.

There’s another element to consider here: the person you’re selling to and their context. How do they usually make their purchase decisions? Do they have a budget available to spend on education? That will be a huge factor in how they perceive your ebook price.

Factor 2: Perceived value of your ebook

Let’s consider two different titles for the same hypothetical ebook:

  1. “10 time management strategies for freelancers”
  2. “Transform your workweek as a freelancer and save 8 hours each week”

The ebook content is the same. The ebook sections are the same. But the outcome is communicated in two very different ways.

The first title implies a list of strategies you can choose from, try, and either keep using or try a different one. The second one paints a vivid picture of a tangible, desirable outcome. The reader can almost feel the satisfaction of following advice from this ebook.

Ask yourself: what are your target readers willing to spend money on to get better in something related to your ebook topic?

Simply put, how you communicate the reader’s end goal with the ebook matters—and the price needs to match up. The more value you provide with your ebook, the more you can charge.

Factor 3: Ebook length

If two books are about the same topic, but one is 30 pages long and the other one is 150, the price should reflect that.

But there’s another thing you need to consider: the expectations of your readers based on the ebook length (and whether the ebook price matches that).

For example, you could sell an ebook on how to get a jumpstart on something, achieve an outcome quickly (think building a morning routine or creating an easy-to-follow meal plan for the week). If you make that ebook 150 pages long, the length won’t increase its perceived value; it will do the opposite because it throws out the ‘quick’ element.

Your ebook length needs to match up with the promise of your ebook title, which will make ebook pricing easier.

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Different places you can sell your ebook

Choosing the right platform for your ebook can make a huge difference to your ideal pricing—and how much you’ll take home at the end of the day. Here are a few platforms you can sell your ebook on and how they affect your ebook pricing—and your revenue.

1. Your website with ConvertKit Commerce

The best platform for selling your ebook? Your own website.

Selling your ebook on your own website gives you lots of advantages over any other platform:

  • You have complete creative control and you can make sure your ebook perfectly fits your branding and messaging
  • You can grow a loyal audience on social media, as well as your email list
  • You’re not relying on marketplace algorithms or competing with other sellers
  • You own the traffic that comes to your website, as well as your email list, so you can promote your ebook more efficiently using automated sequences, social media ads, and more

Everything from your website and social media to your ebook landing page and checkout page can match, just like it does for SistaSense, a community and mentorship for female entrepreneurs:

ebook landing page example by SistaSense
The on-brand ebook landing page made with ConvertKit Commerce. Image via SistaSense

Most importantly: you keep all the money that your customers pay for your ebook! With ConvertKit Commerce and a ConvertKit Free plan, instead of getting 35% or 70% of the ebook’s revenue, you are only charged a 3.5%+30c transaction fee for each ebook you sell. That makes ebooks sales a more reliable income stream.

Check out this video to find out how to start selling your ebooks on your website with ConvertKit Commerce:

2. Amazon’s Kindle Direct Publishing

Amazon lets you self-publish ebooks through their Kindle Direct Publishing platform.

Amazon lets you sell your ebook through their Kindle Direct Publishing
The Kindle Direct Publishing platform. Image via Amazon

If you package your ebook as a Kindle book and sell it on Amazon, here’s the cut you’ll get from Amazon:

  • You’ll get 70% if your ebook is priced between $2.99 and $9.99 (this is the case for United States and works very similarly in other countries)
  • Any other pricing will give you a 35% cut of the revenue your ebook makes

Selling your ebook on Amazon is certainly less than ideal. On top of only getting a fraction of your ebook’s revenue, you’re also relying on Amazon’s algorithm, emails, other books on similar topics on Amazon, and other factors out of your control. You have no influence over how Amazon promotes your ebook and how visitors interact with it.

3. Google Play Books

You can sell your ebook using Google Play Books Partner Center, which gives you access to around two billion Google users.

Sell your ebook with Google Play Books Partner Center
The Google Play Books shop. Image via Google Play

When it comes to ebook earnings, Google says: “There’s no cost, and your revenue share is the vast majority and based on the list price you provide.” In other words, you’ll get 70% of the revenue your ebook earns.

Similarly to Amazon, your ebook price will be anchored by other books selling on your topic and in your industry. Check out what’s currently selling to get an idea.

Another downside is that even though Google has over two billion users, if someone doesn’t have a device with Play Store (and uses Google Play Books to regularly buy books), they won’t buy from you.

4. Marketplaces like Etsy and ebay

If you’ve researched places to sell your ebook on, you’ve had another idea: marketplaces like Etsy and ebay.

Sell your ebook through Etsy and Ebay
The many ways you can sell your ebook.

“People are already buying on these platforms every day, so why not add my ebook to the mix?”

The problem? Websites like Etsy and ebay aren’t made for selling ebooks. They’re aimed at people looking for physical products, and categories you can browse make that pretty clear.

Ebay’s product categories range from home, toys, and fashion to electronics, collectibles, and musical instruments:

Sell your ebook on Ebay
Product categories on Ebay. Image via Ebay

On Etsy, there’s a huge focus on DIY, home, fashion, and personalized items:

Sell your ebook on Etsy
Product categories on Etsy. Image via Etsy

In other words: you can sell your ebook on these platforms, but it won’t stand out in the way it deserves or bring you the sales you want.

5 steps to find the right price for your ebook

Here are the exact steps you can follow to choose the right ebook price.

Step 1: Research ebook prices in your industry

There are many ways you can research how ebooks are priced in your field—here are two that are both efficient and easy to do:

Research tactic 1: Run targeted Google searches like “your topic” “ebook” (include the quotation marks). Take note of the paid ebooks you find—start with at least 10. You can track them in a Google Sheet, but even a simple note will do. Then, take note:

  • What’s the lowest and highest ebook price you can find?
  • What’s the average ebook price?

This gives you a great range you can work from to choose your price.

ebook pricing research for HIIT workout ebooks
Sample search for HIIT workout ebooks; this search reveals a $10 to $25 ebook price range.

Targeted Google searches are also a great way to notice the details around industry-specific pricing and your target reader’s budget. Are you selling to families on a budget or to high-earning business owners? How does that influence their expectations of your ebook price? There’s a reason why a fitness ebook is priced at 10 GBP, while a technical ebook about Ruby on Rails is $39.

Research tactic 2: Look at Amazon ebook prices for your industry and topic. Find these in Amazon > Kindle E-readers & Books > Kindle Books, then select the category on the left.

Don’t just look at the prices of best-selling books—they’re often best-selling because they’ve been heavily discounted—but also those with many reviews and high ratings.

Prices of health and fitness ebooks on Amazon
Prices of health and fitness ebooks on Amazon. Image via Amazon

Amazon ebook prices shouldn’t be your main price guide, but it will show you potential outliers—especially ebooks that are priced more than the average book on the topic, yet sells well and has great ratings.

Step 2: Survey your existing audience

Your audience will tell you a lot about how you should price your ebook.

Here’s the trick: don’t go to them with the question “How much would you pay for an ebook on [topic]?”

Instead, ask them about what they’re currently buying related to your field and topics to solve their challenges and improve their skills. Give them prompts to get as detailed answers as possible. You can ask questions such as:

  • Have you bought any online courses about [topic]? If so, which one(s)?
  • Which books have you read about [topic], if any?
  • Have you hired a professional to help you with [topic] (e.g. coach, consultant, etc.)? If so, what was your experience?
  • Have you bought any physical products related to [topic]?

If you have an email list (of any size!), send your survey to them. You can use a survey tool like SurveyMonkey to do this, or you can write a simple email and ask them just like you would a friend.

If you don’t have an email list yet, or if you have any social following, you can also use those social networks to poll your audience. Use features such as Twitter polls, Instagram polls, or Instagram questions to ask your audience about the solutions they buy to solve their pain points. Just make sure you’re keeping track of all responses, including direct messages—every insight is valuable!

Step 3: Focus on the value your ebook provides

You now have a price range you can work from to define your price. Now, think about the outcome of your book we talked about earlier. Is your reader looking for…

  • More income?
  • Achieving something faster?
  • Removing a problem?
  • Achieving better health?
  • Building better habits?

Consider how these questions influence your reader long-term. For example, B2B SaaS copywriter Dana Nicole teaches SEO in her ebook, Savvy in SEO. The outcome of her ebook isn’t to be good at SEO—it’s to get found online by dream clients. This is what she clearly communicates on her landing page:

Dana Nicole teaches SEO in her ebook
The transformation that comes after applying what you learn in Savvy in SEO. Image via Dana Nicole

Based on the ebook price range you discovered in step 1, and the solutions your audience already buys you learned in step 2, how does your ebook outcome impact your ebook pricing?

Step 4: Consider ebook add-ons and price anchoring

You can use ebook add-ons in two ways when it comes to pricing.

First one is simple: increase the perceived value of your ebook by sprinkling in extra materials. This can turn your ebook from “just a PDF” into a bundle that will reduce the risk of buying the ebook for your customer.

Add-ons can be video walkthroughs, live streams, recorded interviews with experts, templates, cheat sheets and more. This approach is how Steph Smith increased the perceived value of her ebook, Doing Content Right:

Get specific about your ebook add-ons
Get specific about add-ons your customers will get. Image via Steph Smith

You can also use add-ons as price anchoring to present your ebook in the best light possible. Anchoring is a cognitive bias, a tendency to rely on the first piece of information offered when making decisions.

For your ebook, this means you can offer a premium version next to it. For example, your ebook price is $40, but you also offer a bundle with a 30-minute coaching call for $150. Your customers may see the ebook-only version as a bargain next to the premium version.

A great example of this is the Ruby on Rails ebook by Learn Enough, which is priced at $39, but you can also buy screencasts without or with the ebook for $149 and $169.

ebook price anchoring example
Ebook price anchoring with additional screencasts as a premium offer. Image via Learn Enough

Step 5: Review sales data and customer feedback

Finally, the market will tell you everything you need to know about ebook pricing. All you need to do is listen.

Here are the main ways you can review your sales data and listen to your customers—just choose one and go.

Prelaunch your ebook with a limited-time only price. Be transparent about your plan to increase the price once you launch the ebook. This gives you the opportunity to survey people who purchase your ebook and explore pricing options (and you’ll generate early buzz around your ebook!).

Offer tiered ebook pricing and increase the price every X sales. You’ll see sales slow down when the pricing is reaching its potential maximum. This is what Steph Smith did with Doing Content Right, and it was a huge success. She was also told by her customers to charge more, which helped her validate her product idea and show the real value of her ebook to people who were still undecided.

Ebook pricing example from Steph Smith
Steph Smith increased the price of her ebook by $5 after each 30 copies sold. Image via Steph Smith on Twitter

Choose one consistent price and actively reach out to customers to get their feedback. Ask them about the value they received based on what they paid for the ebook based on their expectations and what they would usually buy to solve problems.

You can also ask them for testimonials and suggestions for improvements—people love to hear their opinions and recommendations heard, and you’ll build deeper trust from your customers by doing this.

You’re ready to sell your ebook—and lots of it

You not only have your ebook ready, but you also know exactly how to price your ebook to maximize its chance for success.

There’s one last thing you need: a platform you can use to sell your ebook directly from your website while keeping all your ebook revenue. Not just that—you can sell to an audience that already knows you, trusts you, and wants to buy from you.

Ready to get started? If you don’t already have it, grab your free ConvertKit account and start selling your ebook today.

Start selling within minutes

As a creator, you deserve to get paid for your work. ConvertKit Commerce is ready-made to help you sell digital products.

Get paid with ConvertKit Commerce

Marijana Kay

Marijana Kay is a freelance writer for leading B2B SaaS companies. She uses data-backed, actionable content to help them hit and exceed their growth goals. In her spare time, she collects books and logs running miles.

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