In summary, I mostly said the following:
Pricing in the ebook industry is an emotive subject, and as an author and a reader, I can see both sides.
Perception of value. Does the purchaser equate the cost of a book with the cost of a coffee? Or are they using their last $3 to buy a book?
Either way, I said, as an author, it is vital to be in that middle ground where people perceive your book as being good value. This could be as simple as setting the perfect price. Or as nebulous as understanding your own value as an author.
I then explained how much someone would make on a sale
Self Published authors:
Sale price: $2.99
Amazon percentage: $0.90
Amazon download charges etc: $0.04
Income to an author who self publishes $2.05 per Kindle book sold(Authors with a publisher will have a smaller cut obviously)
Proviso, these are rough amounts, not specific, and there are differences along the line, not least of which is conversion rates on currency.
Setting a price
There are factors helping to decide how to set a price. I can't talk for the publishers and how they set their prices but there are interesting questions to answer for the author who self publishes. There are whole discussions to be had on supply and demand, the perception of value, whether your heart rules your head or the other way around and so on.
What is a book worth to the reader?
From my point of view as a reader, I have auto-buy authors and I pretty much don't care what they charge, I will buy them. I have a perception of there being a ‘good value' in the reading of anything they write, and I know these authors will deliver me a good story, a 99c price doesn't devalue them to me, and a higher price won't put me off.
The glut of the 99c book
Does an author selling their book at 99c make more sales? Does this price devalue the book? Are people suspicious of content or quality? Is there, in fact, an actual price that people see which means they feel the book will be *good*? There are a lot of authors, both in our genre and outside, who successfully use the 99c price point. Especially when the 99c book is the perfect impulse buy for people to try out your writing.
The problem with the 99c price point? Taking my sale example from above and setting it to 99c and with the lower % from Amazon you'd have to sell 6 or 7 times as many books at 99c to make the same money as selling one book at 2.99. Unfortunately for the MM genre (I can't talk for the MF and other romance genres – but I know this happens there as well) we can't trust a lot of the 99c books. Too many times the 99c books turn out to be scammers, farms, several authors writing under one name with wildly different quality, or just plain old plagiarism.
Don't get me wrong, 99c worked for me on my Crooked Tree Ranch book bub, but it was only for a couple of days and anyone who bought it would be able to see reviews. Hopefully, they would have a perception that others found it of a certain quality but that it was cheap for just a short time. A sale. A bargain.
How long does it take to write a book?
My answer to that is how long is a piece of string? Some authors write 3000 words a day, some more, some less, some write at weekends, for some it is a full-time job.
But however long it took, at the end of the read, if you can shut your kindle and you have a sappy smile on your face, or you want to tell your reader friend you loved it, or you ugly cried, then love has gone into that book.
Not coercion to buy, not gaming the system, not pricing low to move borrow volumes in KU.
If I am lucky enough that it is a book of mine you read, that I have priced as fairly as I could, then thank you for spending your money on my words.