Category: ebook pricing


Ebook Pricing for a Foreign Market – Eurozone and Eastern Europe

It is always exciting to read and write about faraway lands and cultures. But our ebook pricing tour has finally reached my home market: Europe. Is there more to the Eurozone than just – Euro? What and who decides ebook prices?

As many of our readers are indeed from Europe, we would be really interested to know what works for you, what strategies have you used?

What influences pricing in Europe?

One of the biggest challenge publishers of mainland Europe face is the case of high VAT. Unlike American and British ebooks, books bought all over Europe are subject to high (even as much as 27%!) VAT. This results in higher ebook prices in general: in order for the publishers to get anything back after VAT and distribution costs have been deducted the prices can’t be kept at 1 euro. (VAT is calculated based on the buyer’s country.)

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Ebook Pricing for a Foreign Market – East Asia and India

This article is the second part of our series, Ebook Pricing for a Foreign Market. You can find the first article here: it covers general rules of pricing for a foreign market and the advantages and disadvantages of territorial pricing. It also covers pricing for the Southeast Asian ebook market: Thailand, Indonesia, Philippines, Vietnam, Malaysia and Singapore.

Today’s article will focus on East Asian markets (Hong Kong, Taiwan, South Korea, Japan, China) and India.

ebook pricing for east asia
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Ebook Pricing for a Foreign Market – Pricing an Ebook in Southeast Asia

It is difficult enough already to price an ebook for your home market: how difficult can it be when you don’t know a market? You don’t only have to be aware of the most popular genres and the trends in these genres but have a clear picture on pricing. We’re trying to solve this problem with a series of guides.

We always recommend that you do a lot of research before entering a new market, but it is difficult and time-consuming. It is an unavoidable step when you are thinking of translations; but if you write in English, there is no reason why you wouldn’t try selling your books all over the world straight away.

The PublishDrive platform makes intelligent and meaningful pricing of books possible: you can set the price individually by stores in the country’s own currency, sensitive to local trends. But until now you were faced with two options: either you ignored the intelligent pricing and let the prices set automatically or you were condemned to hours of research to learn the rules of your genre and countries. And if you choose this route, you were probably discouraged by the many different currencies: who knows how many RM (Malaysian Ringgit) is one Euro?

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How To Price An Ebook – If You Want People to Buy It

how to price an ebook

Setting the ideal price of your ebook is the final step of self-publishing.

By the time you get to the point where you set a price for your work, you might think that you’re done with the hard part. But finding the right price might not be that easy after all.

Pricing is one of the keys to success. There is no best practice on how to price an ebook to sell well. Different factors are affecting the price such as genre, length, quality of the book, the status of the author, etc.

You need to put all these aspects into consideration when choosing the right price.

Get inside your reader’s mind

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The Ultimate Guide to Self-Publishing Costs

Self-publishing costs may grow over your budget if you do not plan ahead or you are not aware of the type of expenses. You may save costs if you have some extra skills or time to develop them on your own. Let’s see what self-publishing expenses you have to cover if you want to publish your own ebook.

In this article we summarise the most important cost types you may have, and we add an approximate amount so that you can estimate your self-publishing costs on the long term.


1. Writing an ebook

As an author you usually write on your own, but in this case, your time is your biggest cost. Depending on what your goal is with your book, the actual writing can take a lot of time and hard work.

If you think of writing as a career, you might want to spend more money to make sure what you create is a quality product (e.g. hiring an editor or a ghostwriter). In this case, think of writing as an investment that can bring you enough money for the rest of your life.

If you write books just for fun or as a hobby, you’ll probably spend less time on writing. You can also hire a ghostwriter to do the hard work for you.

Skills needed: writing, creativity, tons of patience

Alternatives: hire a ghostwriter

2. Editing, or hiring an editor

Editing your ebook can be the highest expense, but it can turn your book from good to outstanding. You can hire a professional editor who does all the work for you including developmental editing, content editing, copyediting.

Hiring an experienced editor can increase your expenses. If you decide to get one, we suggest doing some research first and reach out to more than just one editor before you commit and start shelling out money.

The cost of an editor usually starts at $ 0.005 per word and can go as high as 0.08 cents per word. That is why it is important to do your homework first.

In fact, you don’t always need to hire a professional editor. If you want to keep your costs low, ask writers, authors you know to edit your book. A fresh set of eyes can make a difference.

Skills needed: impeccable grammar skills

Alternatives: hire a professional editor, ask early readers

3. Proofreading an ebook

When you think you’ve finished, review your writing to make sure you fix any spelling mistakes before your final product hits the stores.

Even a book with excellent content won’t be able to bring you too much money (or even jeopardize your reputation in the industry as a professional author) if it’s full of errors.

You have several options for proofreading your book. First, you can use software solutions such as spell check in Microsoft Word or to get rid of the biggest mistakes. Then you can hire people on to do that for you. Or you can even hire a professional editor (which may increase your costs), or you can join a writer’s group to exchange manuscripts with others, which is a cost-effective option.

Skills needed: high level of grammar skills

Alternatives: hire people on, hire a professional editor, exchange manuscripts with other writers,  ask early readers

4. Cost of book cover design

If you want your book to stand out, you need a killer cover.

A good cover design can develop your brand as an author, boost your ebook sales and help your readers identify your book by its cover. You want to make sure your book cover attracts your reader’s eyes because eventually, this is the first thing they bump into.

Designing an outstanding cover is far more work than just choosing the right fonts and colors to make your cover look good. A book cover – that draws interest – demands high design skills and a high level of knowledge of Photoshop, InDesign or Illustrator.

You can also find great cover design tips at, or do some research and find free templates online. There are also other great design tools like Canva, Boxshot or a book cover editor software. If it seems too much work for you and you’re thinking of hiring a professional at any point, it should be for the cover design part. Hire an experienced cover designer and save yourself the extra hours to focus on more important things like branding and positioning your book.

Skills needed: design skills, advanced Photoshop, InDesign, and Illustrator skills

Alternatives: hire people on, research and find free templates, use Canva or other book cover editor

5. Ebook conversion

Ebook conversion may be easy to look over if you want to read on your own device, but you need to invest in high-quality conversion for commercial purposes. If you consider yourself tech-savvy, you can format your manuscript yourself using free platforms like Sigil or you can hire an expert to do it for you. PublishDrive offers ebook conversion services for 0.5 USD per page, and for that, you can download your epub which is ready to use.

Skills needed: HTML5, some common aesthetic skills, Sigil or other HTML editor knowledge

Alternatives: outsourcing to PublishDrive or other services

6. ISBN for ebooks

ISBN is a unique identifier for your book which is an industry standard from ancient times. However, as a self-publisher, you have to buy ISBNs and do the necessary administrative tasks – which are a real pain for an entrepreneurial writer.

At PublishDrive, we got rid of the inflexibility of ISBN and introduced our identifier which is widely accepted by our retailers. So no more hassle with ISBNs which speeds up the publishing process for all of us.

Skills needed: patience, administrative skills

Alternatives: no need for an ISBN when you publish your ebook with PublishDrive

Now you finally reached the point where you can actually sell your ebook! 🙂

7. Ebook distribution

When your book is ready, you can start thinking about distribution models. Many of the authors believe that they can do it on their own, but if you want to focus on your biggest strength, on your creativity and writing skills and building your reader base, the best is if you leave all operational and administrative tasks for someone else.

You can hire a whole qualified team if you want to sell on your platforms on your own, or you can simply partner with a trustworthy service provider who does the job for you. PublishDrive may help in this case with a royalty based pricing, so there are no upfront costs when you start selling your titles everywhere.

But do not forget that you have different expenses for different business models. Many of the publishers only look at the nominal value of the royalties but bear in mind that though these costs may vary, your income from these business models can be in some cases surprising.

Consider volume over value, and you may get a more reasonable profit from a less attractive royalty structure

Agency model

The usual pricing of an agency model is between 30%-50% for the retailers. It means that you set the price and you will receive around 70-50% royalties on the net sales. The agency model is the most widely used business model around selling ebooks.

In PublishDrive we have the following stores with agency model (on 5th December 2016) and with the following pricing structure:

Barnes & Noble
ciando.com in agency model
Gardners Network
iBookstore (iTunes)

Subscription based model

Subscriptions are monthly fees that a reader pays to read either unlimited ebooks or there’s some limit included (such as 5 books and 3 audiobooks etc.). This way, the readers pay less, but publishers may earn more since publishers are paid out based on their list price or in some cases based on the number of pages read. Anyway, it is a fair deal for authors, publishers and even for readers.

We see that subscription business models are valuable: one of our publishers could earn 2.5 times more with PublishDrive and half of their revenue (in value) comes from subscription-based business models. This shows that subscription business models have not just a future, but the present as well.

PublishDrive has the following platforms integrated with subscription based business models:


Library model

There are thousands of libraries out such as schools, public libraries, academies, universities and in some cases, corporate libraries that are waiting for you to list your ebook there.

Library models can help readers to lend a book for a specific period or just simply read it from one spot. We also see that the demand for unique and niche content is specifically needed in libraries who are in the digital transition of their traditional work.

At PublishDrive, we partnered with the following digital library services to make sure your ebooks are available for many librarians in over 40k digital libraries.

ciando.com in library model
Gardners Network, but there is lending opportunity.

Skills needed: business development with all retailers, building out your own accounts, financial terms, managing all accounts, managing all technical requirements, managing all ebook updates, consolidating all sales reports, intelligent analysis of sales reports, billing, managing financial thresholds, then collecting your money

Alternatives: you can do everything by building out your team putting a lot of effort (time and money) to find knowledgeable people, or you can partner with PublishDrive.

8. Marketing costs

When it comes to promotional expenses, you can spend a whole lot of money – but it doesn’t have to be like this.

Depending on your budget, you can partner with ebook blogs to promote your books like GoodReads, IndieReader and Whattpad or you can choose websites to do the same such as Write Globe, Writers Support. Some others offer free services like Noble Authors or Creative Designers and Writers.

You can also collaborate with other authors, use BookBub email list advertising or other software. If you decide not to spend any money on promotion but have the time and effort, you can do all the promotions by yourself. Guest blog, host online events, manage all your social media platforms, build relationships inside the industry and do free ebook giveaways. Your goal is to engage with readers and to put your name out there.

Remember, most of the promotional costs tend to be a waste of money so choose your promotional options wisely.

Skills needed: online marketing knowledge, basic IT and HTML skills

Alternatives: hire someone to do it for you, reach out to your community to promote your book, use your blog and social media sites, create a website, do ebook giveaways

By now you know all about the costs that may arise during self-publishing an ebook and you might want to hear a total amount. Self-publishing costs can depend on many things. If you’re a newbie or an experienced author you probably have different kinds of costs. It also depends on your goals what you want to achieve with your book and on how well you want your book to sell and so on.

So how much does self-publishing really cost?

      •    Writing: free if you do it
      •    Editing: depending on the length of the manuscript, usually between $0.005-$0.08 cents per word, an average total can be around 1500$/book (optional)
      •    Proofreading: depends on the length of your manuscript, somewhere around $700-$1000 (optional)
      •    Professional cover design: $50-200$ (for good featured positions in stores needed)
      •    Ebook formatting: free if you do it on your own, usually $50-200$
      •    ISBN: $19-125$ per title, with PublishDrive you don’t need ISBN anymore
      •    Ebook distribution: depends on your business model – usually a percentage of sales
      •    Marketing: depends on your budget – from free until the sky

All in all, as you can see from this post, there are quite a few factors that can affect the cost of self-publishing so after all, the question is not how much does it cost to self-publish a book but how much are you willing to spend on your book. In this case, the sky is the only limit.

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Ebook Pricing Strategy Guide – How to Do It Right

Ebook pricing can feel like a maze without any exits. Publishers may get lost, or just simply refuse any new business models or ebook pricing methods. I totally understand why. Because they feel threatened by new complicated ebook pricing models and they simply defend their nominal revenue share. But if publishers shortly calculate how much they can earn in some models, you may be surprised in the end.

That is why we are here to help you understand ebook pricing strategy in overall: just keep reading, the first part of this article is for you.

If you are not a publisher, however, and “nominal revenue share” is all Greek to you, just click on the links to skip the first part, and jump to learn about international markets, Amazon KDP and tips and tricks for setting the price of your book.

Ebook pricing models

Direct purchases

This is the simplest ebook pricing model ever coming from the print book industry. However, we have to differentiate between wholesale and agency model.

Wholesale model

For instance, Google Play uses wholesale model for ebook pricing rooting back to the traditional print book industry. If you ever wondered why anyone would use the same old business model in an innovative industry, you are right. Google Play is the only one from the major players who sets its pricing in a wholesale model resulting in a 52% revenue share for publishers instead of the usual 70%.
The main difference between agency and wholesale model is that in wholesale model publishers set a digital list price, but in the end, the retailer sets the final price for ebooks. This case they are usually trying to sell ebooks cheaper than any other channel. In the case of Google, they usually set a 33% off from the digital list price. But this behavior is a vicious cycle, because other retailers or even countries may have a price matching regulation meaning that publishers cannot sell their books cheaper. So the best way is if you can set a slightly higher price for Google to receive the same amount of revenue – that is how PublishDrive already recalculates digital list prices and ebook pricing for Google.

Agency model

The most usual way of ebook pricing is agency model. That is how PublishDrive works as well – PublishDrive receives 10% cut after every book sold in any of the stores. This method gives the publisher freedom: publishers set the price for end users. If there is a promotion, then all of us will share the costs of it. But the nominal revenue share remains the same, so there are no strings attached.

This model helped Apple grow to a real competitor of Amazon. Of course, it wasn’t seamless – they got into a lawsuit because of Apple and the Big 6 (minus Random House) colluded to artificially increase the price of ebooks by letting publishers set the prices. Apple has lost this war, but on the long term, they are still gaining more users and quality content throughout their partnership model. So they are still competitors of Amazon.

Subscription based stores

Subscription can be a big game changer if we think about music or movie industries. On the ebook market, subscription is something different because average readers usually read less book per year then watch movies or listen to songs. So as a customer, you have to be a heavy reader to choose the subscription-based business model.

Pure subscription

But that is where the beauty comes in when you are a publisher: stores with subscription based business models such as Scribd pay after how much readers have read, not after real purchases. It means in practice from a user perspective that for an average of 10 USD subscription, readers can read whatever they want for one month – which is the dream of bookworms.

But of course, publishers have to have a financial gain to provide books to these stores, so the publisher is paid out usually after reading more than 10% of the book. Even though with a lower royalty of the digital list price, but in a quantity which cannot be generated with direct purchases. So in the end publishers may earn more.

Defining parts of the book and lending

Other subscription-based business models cutting the text of the book into 5 parts and they pay out some % of the digital list price based on the length of usage. This way publishers earn as much as the ebooks were read, not more, not less.

Subscription and characters read

In the case of newer subscription-based stores such as Bookmate, publishers are paid out based on the amount of characters read by all end users in publisher’s books plus they receive some part of the end user subscription receipts. This model gives flexibility, fair reporting, and revenue share to all stakeholders. Meanwhile, readers are happier.


Digital libraries are getting more popular in ebook purchases where there are again different confusing ebook pricing models. But in the end the result is the same: the publisher reaches out new readers and earns money. However, you have to understand the basics of library pricing models to feel safe in this environment.
Libraries usually buy a book once, and anyone who is a member of the library can reach that book. That is why a higher ebook pricing is used when publishers are selling to libraries.

1 copy/1 user

Libraries may buy a book permanently, until an expiration date or for metered checkouts. This flexibility of ebook pricing let libraries choose the best way of buying your books. Meanwhile, publishers may earn much more. For instance, in the case of perpetual ebook pricing of a 10 USD book, publishers may earn around 16 USD (c.a. 55% of 30 USD), because the list price is tripled for libraries. This way one library will have a right for lending your ebook for good.

Pay per use

Pay per use is the ultimate way of ebook pricing based on the reading experience. As mentioned in the subscription based ebook pricing as well, pay per use is used to pay out publishers with a typically recommended 10% of List price for 21 days: 10% of $10.00 for 21 days = $1.00 per 21-day loan. This option allows librarians to meet a short-term demand for a popular title without having to overburden their budgets or turn patron away if their ‘permanent collection copies’ already borrowed. After the 21 day period, the title must be repurchased for another 21 days.


This way of ebook pricing at libraries gives you a lot of flexibility. Publishers may offer ebooks at a discount with an annual subscription to the whole catalog or publishers may sell your titles with a scaled option of 10, 20, 30 for scaled discounts.


Here publishers can be creative – publishers may scale it to the number of users in an example of setting a three times higher list price allowing a maximum of 5 users to read the ebook.


International ebook pricing strategies

If you want to sell your book across the globe, there are a handful of things to take into account. VAT on online services differs from country to country – and within the EU, it applies based on the buyer’s country of residence. The VAT can even change based on the fact whether you have an ISBN or not! Fortunately, this is something we manage for you: you just enter your list price, and we calculate your royalties based on your sales in each country. There are also different trends and ideas everywhere about how much an ebook should cost, but this should be the topic of a separate post.

Amazon KDP Select

As the strongest kid on the playground, Amazon KDP (Kindle Direct Publishing) worth mentioning. We will explain to you how it works and whether it worth it.
Amazon KDP offers an either 70% or 35% royalty to the author based on specific requirements. To qualify for 70% (without VAT, less delivery costs: yes, you pay for delivering your ebook to customers $.15 per megabytes!), you have to price your book between $2.99 and $9.99, and at least 20% lower than the print version. You also have to agree on your book being available through Kindle Owners’ Lending Library. In this case, you get 70% royalties from books sold in specific countries and 35% of books sold anywhere else.
Amazon KDP Select gives you the opportunity to sell exclusively on Amazon for a 90-days period. During this time you earn royalties after the Kindle Unlimited downloads ($2 per book) and you can select five days on which your book is available for free. You are right to wonder why ‘free’ is such a magic word: because your free downloads also count into your rankings, which can give you a real boost and pop you to the top of the category.
But exclusivity has its price: while your book is only available through Amazon, you might lose your potential customers from other countries where Amazon doesn’t have the biggest share of the market.

Setting the price

So far we covered the models used for direct purchases, subscription and library use and Amazon KDP. It is all beautiful and interesting, you might say, but I still don’t know how much I should sell my book for. At this point we have to disappoint you: there is no “one size fits all” answer for this question. How much you charge for your book depends only on you – and on several factors which you should consider before you decide to sell it for $.99 or $10 (or $100).

How much writers in your genre are charging

You need to do your research: go to an online bookshop and check out the genre in which your book is going to appear. People searching for your book are going to see similar titles – if your book is much more expensive, odds are that people are going to buy a cheaper one.

Your primary goal

You have to decide whether you want to go for more readers or more money. Yes, you want both, but nothing comes easy at first. Setting a low price could help you draw in readers who are just browsing and came across your book. If you’re selling for $1.99, you can get many buyers by impulse shopping – but bear in mind that low price is often associated with lower quality. Unless you are selling a short book (under 100 pages), going under $2.99 can be considered suspicious. A very often used strategy is to sell a gist or chapter of your book for $.99, and prompt your readers to subscribe to your newsletter if they liked it.

Your audience

Fiction and entertainment books on Amazon are usually sold between $2.99 and $9.99, well-known authors on the higher, and newbies on the lower end of the range. However, educational, self-help books, textbooks in hot topics can sell for much higher. This is also the case for certain uncommon hobbies and interests – as an extreme example, the International Encyclopedia of Social & Behavioral Sciences is priced $11776.66 on Amazon. (But don’t worry, you can get a hardcover for only $799.95!)

Your peace of mind

Writing your book wasn’t a piece of cake, and your worries still cannot end: “Will people read it? What if no one buys it? But if I sell it for too cheap, I won’t earn any money!” Thankfully, you are an independent author, in complete control over your sales. You can easily start with a lower price and change it once you built a readership who are likely to come back and buy your second book as well – or recommend you to their friends. Indie-publishing an ebook gives you the flexibility with your pricing you would never get with a publishing house.
PublishDrive chooses the best options for ebook pricing and make sure you will earn money in either way. We set ebook pricing techniques in the metadata, so you just have to give the average list price for your book as you were in an agency model and we will do the magic for you.
You may benefit from all ebook pricing models by reaching out new readers and by increasing your sales. However, it is the best if you can find a partner who can manage all different pricing models for you, so you will not get lost. PublishDrive is taking care of all pricing models, so you have to focus on what you are the best at: creating beautiful content.



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