Saturday, November 28, 2015

What Should You Price Your Book At?

Authors ask me many thing before they publish their books, including questions concerning titles, cover designs, interior formats, paper quality, testimonials, distribution, marketing, and on and on.  One question they tend to fret over is pricing.  Just how much should they sell their book for?

Traditionally published authors usually don’t have a say on the cover pricing of their books, though they may suggest a price to their publisher, but self-published authors certainly have the burden of determining the best price for their book.

Here are at least eight factors you should consider when pricing your book:

1.      Do people really need your book?
If it’s fiction, they don’t NEED it.  They may WANT it, should you create an awareness of and a demand for it, but they don’t have to have it. Fiction needs to keep pricing down.  Nonfiction books on things people really need – how to save a relationship, get a job, be a better parent, make more money, fix a house – can charge a higher price.

2.      What do your competitors charge?
You can undercut them and hope to build up a lot of sales, though you’d earn less per sale than if the price were higher.  You can charge the most and hope people think you’re the best by virtue of being so high-priced (some people believe this).  Or, you can price it competitively and not let it be a deciding factor for you.

3.      What are you hoping to accomplish with the book?
If it’s a loss leader and you want to use it so that people then get turned onto hiring you (if you’re a consultant), price it low.  If your goal is to rise high on bestseller lists, price it low.  If your goal is to reach as many people in hopes they read your book and their lives or views are impacted by it, price it low to average.

4.      What else do you have going for you?
Does the book have a great cover, catchy title, and top-notch testimonials? If it makes a strong presentation, hold firm on a decent price.

5.      How much profit will you make per book?
If you sell it from your site, you keep 100% of the revenue minus your costs. If you sell it though a third-party website or bookstore, you keep 50-70% of the cover price minus expenses.  If you sell it, in bulk, to an organization, you usually have to give a heavy discount.  So depending on these factors, determine a price you can live with.

6.      What are your costs?
People will buy a book based on their perception of value, competing options, and their financial situation, so they don’t give a crap how much you spent to produce the book – only what it will cost them.  Still, if your book costs x to print or create, you need to factor that in, especially if your book has photography in it.

7.      It’ll be discounted!
Your book will be discounted by bookstores, Amazon, and other vendors.  They will use the cover price as a starting point and work off of it.  So don’t worry if the cover price is a little high since few will end up paying full freight.  But some independent stores don’t discount or they can’t afford to reduce it by much, so be aware of that.

8.      Can it be returned?
Are you publishing both paper and digital versions?  For paper, are you going trade paperback, mass market, or hardcover?  Formats dictate difference price points – and costs of production.  Additionally, some retailers buy books from you based on whether they can return them and what, if any shipping costs are connected to the transaction.  You don’t want returns, so be prepared to give a big enough discount to buy your way into a “no-return” policy if possible.

For the most part, if a book is attractively packaged and the reader has a real need or strong desire, he or she will plunk down a few extra bucks to get what they want.  But never underestimate how cheap people can be – and the appeal of low prices.

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Brian Feinblum’s views, opinions, and ideas expressed in this blog are his alone and not that of his employer. You can follow him on Twitter @theprexpert and email him at He feels more important when discussed in the third-person. This is copyrighted by BookMarketingBuzzBlog © 2015

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