Why Selling Your eBook for .99 Cent is DUMB

Why does a roll of toilet paper cost more than your eBook?

When I tell people that I sell my non-fiction urban based African-American eBooks for an average price of $19.99, and that I've sold thousands this past year alone without being featured in any magazine, no paid advertising, no Amazon or Smashwords or any other eBook retail platform: they can’t believe it. They think I'm tapping into some mystical secret to publishing, or grossly over-pricing my work.

I’m doing neither. I’m simply thinking like a businessman.

Writing for me is my personal pleasure. I’d do it for free anyway, just like I was doing before becoming published. Publishing on the other hand was a business decision. And I learned how to quickly separate the two. I suggest more authors do the same.

At first I did what other “aspiring” authors do: sent off a bunch of query letters via email to different agents. All of which either got totally ignored, or the agents I queried failed to see the value in my target market. So I went to plan B: self-publishing.

That brought on a whole new set of challenges: primarily how to price my eBook to make a profit, in a market where .99 cent or free seemed to be the only business model pursued by most: including the major publishers. But I refused to give away my blood, sweat and tears for pennies. So along with my wife (who’s also my business partner), I studied and read up on alternatives.

We quickly realized it was time for a new business model in publishing. So we pursued direct to consumer sales and pricing based on building value. Let that word sink in, because it’s your ticket out of going broke as you await recognition for your work. We executed our model by turning to social media.

With thousands of ‘fans’ already online, I simply engaged them more directly via social media ( @mackmusing ), and began selling my eBooks direct from my own site (www.edendecoded.com/books). The response has been great. Without having one single physical book, I've been able to move around 6000 eBooks this year alone. And the number rises daily.

Publishing is a business. To be more specific: it’s a billion dollar business. Writing is an art form. Turning those writings into edited content that’s uploaded, organized cohesively, then formatted for print or download: that’s a business. And any author looking to get published has to start thinking like a business person.

People sell their eBooks for .99 cents because they are bandwagon jumpers. They see other people doing it, and just like sheep: they follow along blindly doing the same. They may have heard of a few success stories of other authors who gave their eBooks away for pennies, who later went on to become huge publishing sensations.

But that’s like trying to hit the publishing lottery. You probably have a better chance of hitting the mega millions jackpot with a scratch-off ticket than to strike publishing riches going the .99 cent route. It’s a huge disservice to the entire publishing industry and devalues your brand as a writer.

If your goal is to write for pleasure, social media or a blog would make a great platform for doing just that. But if you’re looking to get published, your writing has now become a business. And you must approach it as such.

I share all that to say: you don’t need to price your work at .99 cent. You’re robbing yourself and the industry as a whole when you do. Instead, learn how to engage the people most likely to purchase your product, and engage them right where they are. Build value with them, let them sample your work, and then charge appropriately to sell them the rest.

I’d rather see you doing that than begging on your knees for someone to give you a book deal.

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