Think about the last eBook you bought for your personal enjoyment.
What factors made you decide to hand over your credit card details for that book in preference to the hundreds of others on offer online or in the bookshop?
Was price the only reason that made you decide to buy that book? Or was there more to it than that?
Here are my personal decision-making combination of triage factors when it comes to buying any book:
1. The Genre and Subgenre.
I love reading crime and romance books and my favourite subgenres are women sleuths and fun reads as well as contemporary romance. When I am looking for a new book I will go to those online shelves first.
2. The Book Description and any Subtitle on eBook or the Back Cover Blurb.
I want to be enticed into reading this book by the anticipation of an exciting and or romantic emotional journey. The only place I will find that is from the Book Description and the Additional material the author has added about the book.
Take away for self-published authors.
Use the Book description and any subtitles to make the compelling short pitch. If you are on Kindle eBooks you can then use the Author Central feature to add lots more information and editorial reviews. Make me a promise. Show me that this book will be worth my time.
3. Familiarity with the work of that author or a personal connection to the author.
I would pay extra for the latest release from an author whose work I had enjoyed in the past.
Why? I trust that author not to let me down. My hard earned money will not be wasted.
They know how to take me on a journey and bring me home again.
Most readers have an auto-buy list, where they will snap up anything that author releases, read their social media posts and join their mailing lists.
Those readers will pay the asking price for a new book from their favourite author, even if it is overpriced, the moment it is released.
Flip Side? I have only ever given a one star rating for a book on an online retailer. And that was because the author abused my trust. I loved their previous crime books so much, that I ran out and bought the HARDBACK copy in a shop! And the book was horrible in every way and should never have got past their editor at their big publishing house. I will never buy another book from that author.
Take away for any author.
It did teach me one thing. As an author, you have to work hard to make each book even better than the last, because it only takes one lazy poor book to destroy that pact with the reader. This is a reader’s world now and they will go somewhere else. Fact.
4. The author has developed a social media platform.
Their online presence reflects their genuine personality and their love of the genre and generosity to other writers. Or perhaps I know the author personally and have met them at writing conferences and meetings and recognise their talent and passion for the work they do. That is special.
5. The Cover Art.
Sorry, but if the cover looks cheap and unprofessional then I am not going to waste my precious cash and time on this book. The author does not respect the readers enough to invest in a professionally designed cover. Huge mistake.
Photo Credit: Flickr/Will Hart
The “fangs of doom” will certainly strike if the cover art is tacky and appalling.
On the flip side of that, I had bought gorgeous looking books which I put aside after a few chapters because they were so poorly written.
Take away for self-published authors. Show the readers that you take pride in your work and that you are a professional author and pay for a professionally designed cover. Each cover is a reflection of your business. Invest in it.
6. The equivalent number of pages or word count.
For example. Would you expect to pay the same amount for:
* a 20,000 word novella or perhaps 50 equivalent pages?
* a 50,000 word, 200 equivalent page category romance? And
* the latest full length, 450 equivalent page blockbuster crime book from a well known author.
I wouldn’t. And yet if you look at any online bookseller you will see authors who have set a list price for their novella or short story collection which is the same as a new release of the eBook version of a bestselling novel in the charts.
Novellas can be a great way for readers to find new authors, but $5.99 for 50 (digital) pages?
Take away for self-published authors.
Price your work within a price band which is realistic for the type of eBook you are selling. Think about how much you would pay as a reader, and the list price for other books of the same length and genre. Research the bestseller lists and check that the price you are thinking about is not totally outrageously different.
7. Samples. Have a peek at the ‘Look Inside’ and/or download a Sample
Did I like what I read in the opening chapter or chapters? Was this the very best work that the author could produce? What promise did that opening make? Just how compelling was it?
8. Any Reviews and Star Ratings for the book
Reviews are always incredibly subjective and I know as an author that a one star review where the reader hated the book is only one person’s opinion, but it is human nature to look for reassurance that we are not making a mistake in buying this book.
There is also a growing sense of disquiet about whether some reviews are genuine or not, especially if this is the author’s debut book and they do not have an existing social media platform.
It is possible to hire strangers on sites like Fiverr, to post reviews of your book based on the synopsis you give them, and many book review services are popping up.
9. The Perceived Value of the book
This is especially true for non-fiction books where readers are prepared to pay more than for a fiction book because they feel that the book will add value to their lives in some way.
For example: A recipe book from a TV chef who specialises in vegetarian and gluten free meals. High perceived value= high list price which readers will pay.
Jane Litte of Dear Author believes that part of the reason that romance readers expect to have relatively lower priced books is that the eBooks are seen as having a lower inherent value. “There’s no resale (used bookstore); there’s no trade (paperbackswap); there’s no lend (friend to friend). The reduced utility of the ebook decreased the value.”
10. How likely are you to read this book after you have downloaded it?
Take a look at your eBook reader.
How many books do you have on it which you know that you are never going to read, or read again? Why do you want to add more? Any new eBook has to earn its place.
I think the tide has turned and many readers are now slowly turning away from free or very low price books which they know that they will probably never read.
But it is more than that. We all lead such hectic lives with very little leisure time.
If a reader is going to invest several hours of their life reading your eBook then they want to make sure that the time will not be wasted, irrespective of how little it costs.
The pressure is on authors to price our books in a way that helps readers to discover our work – and then delight them by over delivering with a compelling, well-written story which is free from errors and the best work that we can create.
That is the way to create a good reader experience and have them coming back for more.