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Self-Publishing Romance: How Short Justifies a $2.99 Price Point?
Written by
Yuwanda Black
November 2015
Written by
Yuwanda Black
November 2015

I was reading this post on The Passive Voice (great self-publishing blog, by the way) about the recent changes to Amazon’s KU payout structure, when I ran across the following comment, which inspired this post.

What Is a Short Story, a Novella, a Novel?

Here are the limits one writer’s organization uses.

***Short Story: less than 7,500 words;

***Novelette: at least 7,500 words but less than 17,500 words;

***Novella: at least 17,500 words but less than 40,000 words

***Novel: 40,000 words or more.

And here are relatively current pricing categories from a well-known independent/small press publishing blogger:

***Short story: $2.99.

***Short Novels, Short Collections: $4.99.

***Regular Novels (over 50,000 words), Long collections: $5.99 to $7.99

How I Price My Books

First off, let me say I write romance, mostly short interracial, multicultural novellas – 10,000 to 35,000 words (most fall in the 20,000 to 30,000 word range). I’ve played around with pricing a bit, but here’s how I go about it these days.

For erotic romances, eg, A Taste of Tara, I price it at $3.99 or $4.99 (mostly $3.99).

For all others, I price at $2.99 – no matter how long or short, and no matter the genre; UNLESS …

It’s the lead in a three-part or longer series. Then, I’ll price the first one at $1.99 – after all three parts have been published. The reason is, I never know if a book is going to be a series or not. I publish the first one, then if readers are asking for successive parts – and sales numbers say it’ll be profitable to write one – I’ll write further installments.

Should You Bundle Series?

I used to bundle serials after they’ve been out for a while, but I found that people still bought the individual titles, which was strange to me. I might one day get back to bundling, but for right now, my focus is writing and getting each book uploaded to as many outlets as possible – which is a task unto itself, let me tell you.

FYI, my romance novellas can be found on Amazon, B&N, ARE (OmniLit), Google Play, and as of this month, Apple, Kobo, Oyster, Page Foundry, Scribd and Tolino.

Note: I don’t price any of my books at 99 cents. I’ve experimented with it a few times in the past, but the payoff – in increased sales or exposure (eg, newsletter signups) – hasn’t been worth it for me. For those who don’t know, any book priced below $2.99 you only earn 35%of the cover price. When you price a book between $2.99 and $9.99, you receive 70%.

So when you price a book at 99 cents, you earn 35 cents, as opposed to $2.06 when you price it at $2.99, or 70 cents when you price at $1.99.-

About Pricing and Serials

Readers HATE cliffhangers for the most part. So my books are complete, standalone novellas in that you don’t have to buy successive versions to find out what happens in a previous version. I’ve done two of these and the sales were not that great, BUT I still had to write the next book anyway. There’s nothing more soul-draining than writing a book that you don’t expect to sell very many copies of – but to be fair to readers, I feel the need to.


My pricing is cheaper than what many other writers charge, but in order to keep my sanity and to keep sales chugging along at a pretty predictable pace, I like the stability of my pretty straightforward pricing strategy.

To date, I’ve published almost 40 romance novellas. When I get to 75 or 100, I might revisit the pricing, but for now, this works for me. And that’s the beauty of being an independent publisher.

Your Thoughts?

What pricing strategy do you use when pricing your romance novels? Have you found one price garners more sales than others? Please share in the comments section below.

NEW #ROMANCE: COMING THIS WEEK -- Here's a sneak peek: http://dld.bz/ea9y2.

P.P.S.: Get these $1.99 Romance Novellas Now! Ruthless Love (http://dld.bz/dBGpT); Priced Out of Love (http://dld.bz/d8UXH); A Lover for Beth (http://dld.bz/d5Wd9).


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  • Cynthia B Ainsworthe

    I agree. KU was no friend to me. Yes, I do write a series. Working on book 4. I've been doing all the PR things, still it's rough out there.

  • Yuwanda Black

    It's KU Cynthia -- the dramatic drop in sales for many authors (including me, of course), came when AMZ introduced/tweaked/rolled out a version of its KU program in the summer of 2015. There are so many moving parts to it, I forget exactly what it's called, but that's when the bottom fell out.

    At least you've found your sweet spot, but I still say, don't be afraid to experiment from time to time, esp with series (if you write them). Readers will pay for authors they like, so make sure you're building your own mailing list as well. 

    Again, continued success. :)

  • Cynthia B Ainsworthe

    Yuwanda, I tried higher pricing which resulted in very few sales, down to none. $2.99 seems to be the sweet spot no matter how many words are in the book. I think all the free books and 99cent books have soured the market. Readers are now on the lookout for cheaper books.

  • Yuwanda Black

    Gee Cynthia, seems to me that you should be charging more -- b/t $4.99 and $6.99. You might want to check out Lindsay Buroker's blog: http://www.lindsayburoker.com and do some poking around for posts where she discusses pricing.

    Your genre and your novel length could support a higher price point according to the reading I've done.  Continued success. :)

  • Yuwanda Black

    That still seems to be the case for me Patricia. I've never priced one at $4.99. I've priced several at $3.99, but again, those tend to be the "erotic romances." These days, I'm writing mostly straight romance and still doing "shorties" so am sticking retty much to the $2.99 price point for AMZ. I price a little higher for other outlets (eg, Google) to offset any discounts they may give so as not to worry about AMZ doing a mprice match.

    See, it all gets so complicated so quick, which is why I tend to stick to a pretty straightforward pricing strategy.

    Thanks for sharing your thoughts.

  • Patricia Robertson

    I've heard that the sweet spot is around 2.99 and 3.99, though I do price some of my books at 4.99, especially a new release.

  • I tend to write longer criminal romance and still price at $2.99 to $3.99. My first book in my Forbidden Series is over 292K words, book 2 is over 92K words, and book 3 (will release in 2016) is over 108K words. I like to include many twists and turns in the plot which requires a book of longer length. Romance conflict and crime involves more structure and attention to detail. All three books have many of the same characters, but are stand alone stories.