Why do authors offer the book they slaved over for two years, or longer, at .99 cents?

I just read a wonderful post, as always, by the lovely Melissa Foster. She and I have discussed the marketing price point of 99-cent books several times. I love how she showed the positives and negatives. That it may work, it may not. Every writer has things that will work for them that may not work for others.

Of course, this post is for authors, but I welcome readers to understand why we do what we do and encourage you not to believe that just because a book is $0.99 cents, that it’s a cheap book.

I've experimented with several options, and here are my thoughts:

To start, let me say that I swear it's actually easier to sell a car than an eBook. Really, I've sold both; I know. What amazes me is that readers will pay $14.99 for an eBook sitting alongside a 99-cent eBook. Same amount of reviews, same average rating, same genre, and yet, they do! 


What I've come to realize is that readers aren't paying the price for the book as much as they are paying the price for their time. And most readers do not realize that you can scan down the romantic-suspense bestseller list and find books for less than what is on the main page. They simply go looking for Nora Roberts or Nicholas Sparks and pay full price instead of looking for a great deal by a new author. As a reader, I do understand this. I invest eight to ten hours of my life in a book. According to the current CPI-U, the average hourly wage is $10.17, so I’m really investing $81 of my time.

I offer readers a couple of free short stories, and on occasion, the first book in one of my three series...

After that, readers love my stories or they don’t. And since most writers’ stories get better the more they write, hopefully readers will keep buying my books.

To answer your question you may now be asking, no. I do not charge $14.99 for the rest of my novels. My publisher prices my novels at what Amazon considers a value, $4.99 or less. Why? Because she’s not spending hundreds of thousands of dollars to market my book, and we feel it is a fair price point. 

Does it make me rich? Lord, no! I wish! 

In fact, I gave up a lucrative career in sales and marketing to write full time. Does it make me happy, yes! Nothing brings me more joy than hearing a reader loved my book. So, grab a couple of my free and discounted books. And if you love them, please let me know what you think. 

Happy reading!


Here is a link to Melissa’s great post if you’d like to read her take on the .99-cent price point.

Thank you for stopping by my place and reading my musings. Remember, these are just my opinions and shouldn’t be taken too seriously. If you have questions, please feel free to leave them in the comment section, and I promise you I will answer.  If you’re curious about what I write, please visit one of my author pages, where you can read all about my novels and short stories. And hey, I’ll even give you a free book just for stopping by.

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  1. Nice post, Carmen. Thank you for referencing my post as well. I've shared yours on my Fostering Success Facebook page as an example of using the 99 cent strategy to sell more fairly priced books.

    1. Thank you for commenting, Melissa. I'm so pleased you enjoyed it. And thank you very much for sharing.

  2. Thanks for the post. Pricing a book is one of the most guy wrenching decisions an author makes. New authors really have no choice other than to offer promotional deals to get noticed. Melissa Foster really knows what she is talking about (I bought her marketing course and view it over and over). There are always pros and cons. I know how much effort I put into my book, and know most other authors also take the craft seriously. Thanks again for this post.

    1. The key is, Scott, as I'm certain Melissa mentioned is that you cannot just price a book at .99 cents. You have to use it as a promo to draw prospective clients to your book. AND...you have to make sure the avid readers of the world *know* that you have a .99 cents book. Simply pricing a book at .99 cents and hoping it will sell doesn't work. Hence, Melissa's network. Many websites exist to help you get that word out. Have a wonderful day. Thank you for stopping by and commenting. :)

  3. The name of the game when it comes to pricing ebooks is to get as many as possible to read your book. A relatively unknown author has nothing to lose by charging just 99-cents for his/her ebook. If, through word of mouth, a decent audience reads your book set at a low price you've built a following and later can charge more for future novels. Personally, it's hard to see why anyone would purchase an ebook for $14.99 from Amazon.com when you can find the same book in hardcover for far less in the "new and used" section. Make your early works affordable, build an audience and then charge a reasonable price for a book. Since the expenses in producing an ebook are so low an author can make more money by charging $2.99 for an ebook than the more expensive hardcover.

    1. Exactly... And I used five times the amount of words to say it. LOL!

      I do like the $3.99 price point...because it's still less than the $4.25 latte I can get at Starbucks, and yes...why anyone continues to download that $14.99 ebook is beyond me. Especially as you mentioned...you can get at WalMart for 12.99 or less. I believe I used to pay $10.48 for most of my paperbacks at WalMart. Now...I buy Indie! Or...get them free.

      Thanks for stopping by my place. *Clinks* coffee mug.

  4. Great post. I needed the encouragement.

    1. Thank you, Patricia! I'm so glad you enjoyed it, and I'm thrilled that it encouraged you. I have many posts on the subject of marketing eBooks, so please take a peek at the Writing, Marketing, and Life tab at the top of the page. And if you have any questions, please ask. If I haven't written about a subject, I will probably want to. :)