When considering what to charge for an e-book, the calculus can be complicated. We talked with Smashwords founder Mark Coker about smart pricing strategies, including how to price multiple books and different genres.

What’s the best strategy for pricing your e-book?

Mark Coker: Every time you sell an e-book, you gain two benefits. The first is money in your pocket. The second is you gain a reader. Smart pricing can help you find that common intersection where you maximize earnings and readership. I’d argue that the readership will be a primary factor in your long-term success.

Your goal is to reach as many readers as possible, and then you want to earn the reader’s trust and loyalty through the quality of your writing. The opportunity is to turn readers into fans and fans into superfans. Superfans are the readers who will buy everything you publish. These readers are also your secret marketing weapon because their enthusiastic reviews and word of mouth will propel your career forward.

For full-length fiction, we find that the pricing sweet spot for most bestsellers is $2.99 to $4.99. For nonfiction focused on knowledge-building or problem-solving, prices from $7.99 to $9.99 typically work best. If you publish multiple books, it’s good to have your books occupy multiple price points. There are many readers out there who won’t try an unknown author unless the book is priced free or at 99 cents. And there are other readers who will never purchase books priced under $2.99 from an unknown author because they fear those books are lower quality. Readers’ tastes and prejudices are as varied as humanity. By occupying multiple price points, you make your books more accessible to more readers. Once readers give you a try and discover they love you, price becomes less of a concern to them.

Karen Schechner is the senior Indie editor.