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How to Price an eBook – simple strategies to ensure the price is right

How to Price Your ebook

You’ve written and compiled an ebook. Now you have to decide how much to charge for it. Finding the right price is essential to the success of your product. If you charge too little, people will think it’s of little value, and they won’t purchase it, or even it they do buy your book, you will have to sell thousands of copies to get to the point where you can begin to see a profit. If you price it too high when compared with your competition, you will find yourself steadily lowering the price, which will cause you all kinds of new problems in the future. For example, if you sell your ebook at first for $39.99, and later reduce it to $24.95, don’t you think the people who bought it for $39.99 are going to be PISSED?

Choosing the right price for your ebook is one of the most critical parts of the marketing process. The first rule of pricing ebooks is to never underprice. Determine the highest price your audience can afford, and then if you find your book isn?t selling, you can always reduce the price. Before you take that step, make sure you are promoting your book like crazy on the Internet and on websites. The price should be aimed at bringing in profits, but you should never forget that price is one of the factors that people use in judging the value of your ebook ? before they buy it. So always start with the highest price, and then launch a mega-marketing campaign.

Pricing an ebook is particularly difficult because ebooks are a fairly new commodity. Since they are digital, the value of an ebook is as confusing as the understanding of what digital actually is to the average layperson. This means that we must look at ebooks in a different light in order to determine their actual worth in this brave, new cyber world.

Let’s look at the difference between a book in print and an ebook. A printed book is an object you can hold in your hand, store on your bookshelf, even hand down to the next generation. It is priced on factors such as paper stock, design and production costs, and marketing.

But the fact that unites ebooks and print books is that they are composed of ideas. It is the ideas in these books that have the ability to change, or possibly transform, people’s lives.

What do you think an idea is worth when evaluated against the cost of paper and ink?

It is the IDEAS that are valuable! That is how you determine the cost of your ebook.

What should I charge for my ideas?

There are all different formulas and methods for determining the correct price for your ebook. Let’s begin with honing in on your ultimate goals.

Decide if your goal is to get wide distribution and maximum exposure. This goal is aimed at drawing customers to your business or service, or to establishing the credibility of your reputation. If this is your main goal, you should aim to keep your price on the low side. Some authors have even priced their ebooks at a profit loss to draw a high number of new customers. The key is to find a price that maximizes your profits and the number of books you sell.

This is an excellent pricing strategy if you are looking to acquire long-term customers. Long-term customers are extremely likely to buy from you again and again ? as long as the first ebook they buy is of exceptional quality and beneficial to the customer.

However, if your book contains valuable ? and more importantly NEW information, references, or techniques ? then you should aim to price it on the high end.

After you figure out your goal, you must figure out what your audience’s need is for your ebook. For example, does your book solve a particular problem? If it does, and solves it in a way that hasn’t been written about in one hundred other ebooks, you will be able to achieve high sales at a high price. If your book solves a problem or answers questions in a new and unique way, you should price your book as high as you can go. You will achieve larger profits this way, but bring in fewer customers. Just make sure the question or problem that your book solves is one that is important and relevant to the majority of your market audience. If your ideas are not common knowledge, or you are presenting a brand new technique, you will be able to sell books at a high price. Just be prepared for your competition to undercut you on price as soon as they hear about your book.

Keep in mind that the above pricing strategy is temporary. Eventually, you will cease to sell books at this high price. So figure out in advance how long you plan to offer your ebook at this high price, and when that time is up, change your pricing strategy. If you want to see large profits over customer draw, aim for an audience that is looking for easy solutions to their problems at a low price. If your book is aimed at solving one particular problem rather than general advice, then you can charge more. Start at the highest price the market will bear to bring in the largest profits, and plan to discount the book a number of times throughout the year.

Marketing Strategies

The key that unlocks the sales potential of your ebook is to find a single sentence that becomes your selling handle. This sentence states what question or problem your book answers and the benefits your ebook can provide. Then be sure to use that sentence in every piece of sales and promotional material, and every time anyone asks you about your ebook.

Besides promoting your books assiduously online, there are several other strategies that can help you sell more books.

One is to give something away for free with your book, such as a valuable bonus item. Or bundle several ebooks under one price, which lowers the price for each ebook if they were sold separately.

An effective technique for figuring out a price is to send out a survey to your current customers. If these customers have already bought an ebook from you, ask for their opinion in terms of price. Do this by creating a sales page for the new book, but don’t include a price on that page. Instead, add a number of links to survey questions that ask pointed questions to aid you in assigning a price to your ebook.

Another strategy is to test out prices by creating a number of duplicate sales pages with different prices on each page. Make sure your sales copy is exactly the same on every page, and includes your selling-handle sentence. Then figure out for each page the conversion ratio between visitors to your site and sales of your book. This will tell you what your optimum price is.

Ultimately, if you’ve written a book that solves a problem or presents a new technique, your book will bring in both traffic and profits. So be sure to write that selling-handle sentence that sums up what problem your book solves and what the benefits of your book will be to the customers who purchase it. And then watch your market come to you!

What is meant by an Interpretive Approach in Organisational Psychology

Interpretive Approaches

An interpretive approach focuses on the processes by which meanings are created and negotiated (Schwandt, 1998). However there are a range of interpretive approaches each with different views on epistemology and ontology (Alvesson & Skoldberg, 2000; Lindlof, 1995). Even if you restrict it to those that fall into the ‘interpretive’ umbrella, as outlined in the subject guide, there is still a broad choice.

Furthermore, there is some confusion because all of the other approaches use interpretation in some way – we are always interpreting!

Within the ‘interpretive’ umbrella (or paradigm), there are some particularly important approaches to research, I will briefly outline them here:

Phenomenological approaches try to avoid researcher interpretation and describe only what is evident in the data, and there is a tendency to isolate and de-contextualise during analysis. Phenomenologists argue that it is possible to remain objective and outline data findings in a more objective way by removing the researcher’s bias and the additional scope for error that is involved in interpreting. However, the concept of bracketing, (removing all ones own prejudices and pre-understanding), is questioned by others (e.g. Lowes & Prowse, 2001).

Interpretive Phenomenological Analysis (Smith, 1996) is more of an analysis method based on phenomenology. It aims to go one step further than phenomenology, by describing the data first in a similar way, but then interpreting it, particularly in the light of psychological theory. This focuses primarily on theory to aid analysis, which means individual meaning can be lost. However, as with all methods, it may well depend somewhat on how well the analysis is done.

Grounded theory in many of its forms is arguably rather ‘rational’ and positivistic, and generally has a tendency to break-apart rather than maintain context (Tesch, 1990). There are more constructivist approaches to grounded theory, and it does have the benefit of very clear processes for students to follow, but some still argue that it is restrictive and fails to acknowledge the biases of the researcher. Some suggest it is an analytical method rather than an approach, but like many of these things, the two go very close together, and I don’t think you could do a grounded theory analysis without taking on board all the other ideas behind it.

Hermeneutics you will meet in another other mini ‘lecture’. It has been put forward as a move ‘beyond’ both scientism and social constructionism, accepting the self-interpreting nature of humans within their social-cultural context, but not reducing them completely to these origins (Martin & Sugarman, 2001). In particular, hermeneutics has been proposed as a useful approach when one wishes to gain insight into meaning (Alvesson & Skoldberg, 2000).

Psychodynamics – The concept of a hidden unconscious drives underpins all psychodynamic theories and forms a major area of difference between this and other perspectives. Confusingly, there is a range of different approaches within this grouping, but they all share a focus on the importance of the unconscious, and childhood experiences. Most psychodynamic theories suggest the ‘self’ is generated by fantasy and phantasy, rather than real events. Psychodynamic theories could be framed from relativism or new realism, (Wetherell & Still, 1996) although the object relations school tend to take a more realist view, (real events influence the self). Although psychodynamics tend to focus on the individual, there are also group level versions (some of you may have heard of Bion?)

Sense making (Weick, 1995) has been classed as an interpretive approach, but others argue that it is more postmodern, being based partly on social constructionism. That is why it is placed on its own in the subject guide, we are not sure ourselves where it fits! Personally I would put it into interpretive because it has a rather functionalist and cognitivist flavour to it and is not relativistic enough to slot into a postmodern/social constructionist framework.

Now, I mentioned that many other approaches include some level of interpretation (well actually, all do, as even statistics have to be interpreted). Discursive and critical approaches focus on critique of the social and power situation of those researched, rather than understanding individual meanings, and critical in particular assume the power of the researcher in their interpretation. Although these clearly use interpretation in the research process, they are not classed as fitting in the interpretive paradigm because they have different views on epistemology and ontology. I think I have said elsewhere that the postmodern approaches tend to take a mutualist view and focus more on the social construction of the self, and fragmentation rather than cohesion. If you can get hold of books there is an interesting one by Heracleous (2006) that covers interpretive and discursive approaches.

So interpretive approaches are all those that approach research in an idiographic way (focusing on the individual). They will always use some form of qualitative data collection and analysis process. Some might use content analysis and counting, but more often they will try to retain some of the richness of the data. In general they will tend to take a realist approach to their ontology (but not always!) They do tend to take a very neutral approach to their subject, rarely considering power relations or the influence of societal norms – they focus on the individual experience primarily or on how groups develop meaning, without considering the broader issues in much depth (this is viewed by some as a key weakness).

Although questionnaires could be argued to be looking at the individual and to be subjective (indeed they are of course tapping into subjective self-reports). They tend to be used in an aggregate way and some form of objectivity is assumed. You will discuss issues with running different types of statistics on questionnaires in OR. The key reason why they are not used within the interpretive paradigm is that they force the reply upon the participant, and do not allow the participant to express the things that they think are important about the subject.

Taking an interpretive approach also influences your form of analysis. Choice of analytical method should be based on the research questions, but inevitably these very questions will be driven by your own philosophical background and preferences.

The analysis method will be influenced by which overall interpretive approach you prefer. Even with some general interpretive approaches, the richness of meaning is often lost, with a tendency towards narrative positivism (Pentland, 1999), where coding processes remove much of meaning. However, for some, this is quite sufficient, so using content analysis and even counting the number of times words are used by the participants, is considered useful (this is a post-positivist approach I guess, still has some normative overtimes even though using qualitative methods.

An interpretive approach will never use discourse analysis as we know it because that looks at language and not the individual. However there is still a broad range of analytical techniques available to them.

You will sometimes find normative/post-positivist researchers will use a qualitative data collection method, like interviews, to help inform their research. However it is usually only to help them design a questionnaire, and you will find that the qualitative data is treated very superficially, often hardly mentioned at all. Some would argue they cannot possibly have understood the depth of meaning offered by participants due to their tendency to just scan the qualitative data (rather than study it in depth), indeed often transcripts are not taken, just a few notes of key words during the interview sessions.

Do get the Cassell & Symon ‘Essential Guide to Qualitative Methods in Organizational Research’ (2004) if you can – you will even see an article from me in there – the book includes many different ways of both collecting and analysing qualitative data.

Of course, researchers sometimes use a mix of paradigms anyway, so it is not always easy to spot what is going on (less frequent I think with the normative). Good news is, some are very clearly within one paradigm, and by the end of this module at least you will know roughly what they are on about if they say they took, for example, a phenomenological approach!

Stephanie (from BizFace)

References (for information only, you don’t have to read them):

Alvesson, M., and Skoldberg, K. (2000). Reflexive Methodology: new vistas for qualitative research, Sage, London.

Heracleous, Loizos (2006) Discourse, Interpretation, Organization. Cambridge University Press.

Lindlof, T. R. (1995). Qualitative communication research methods, Sage Publications Inc., Thousand Oaks.

Lowes, L., and Prowse, M. A. (2001). “Standing outside the interview process? The illusion of objectivity in phenomenological data generation.” International Journal of Nursing Studies, 38, 471-480.

Martin, J., and Sugarman, J. (2001). “Interpreting Human Kinds: Beginnings of a Hermeneutic Psychology.” Theory & Psychology, 11(2), 193-207.

Schwandt, T. A. (1998). “Constructivist, Interpretivist Approaches to Human Inquiry.” The landscape of qualitative research: Theories and issues, N. K. Denzin and Y. S. Lincoln, eds., Sage Publication Inc., Thousand Oaks.

Smith, J. (1996). “Beyond the divide between cognition and discourse: using interpretative phenomenological analysis in health psychology.” Psychology and Health, 11, 261-271.

Tesch, R. (1990). Qualitative Research: analysis types and software tools, The Falmer Press, Basingstoke.

Weick, K. E. (1995). Sensemaking in Organizations, Sage, Thousand Oaks.

Wetherell, M., and Still, A., (1996) Realism and Relativism, in Sapsford, R., (Ed.) (1996) Issues for Social Psychology, Open University.