Book Distribution

Book Pricing

What Price is Right?

A big question for many authors is how to determine the retail price of their book. In some businesses, conventional wisdom says to set the price of a product by at least doubling your cost. Since that’s the case, if it cost you $10 to print your 150-page book, you should charge $20, right? Wrong! The book industry is not conventional, and the conventional wisdom thus does not apply.

There are many different factors that impact the price of your book: genre, page count, binding (hardcover/paperback), and competition all dictate the best price for the retail market.

What to Consider When Pricing Your Print Book

We all know how hard it is to assign a value to something that took years of work and your heart and soul to create. To the author, the content is often priceless. If you want to sell books, though, the retail price you set should be carefully considered and chosen with caution.

Traditional publishers will typically arrive at their price point by taking into consideration the costs associated with producing, distributing, and marketing the book. It’s tempting to take the same approach when self-publishing but self-published authors don’t normally have the same economies of scale that make this method work.

For instance, a traditional house will be looking at print costs based on a print run in the hundreds of thousands or at least in the tens of thousands, while most self-published authors are looking at much smaller initial print runs. This affects the cost per book and hence would drive your suggested list price way up and out of the market norm.

How Much Should I Charge for My Book: Price Yourself Into the Market

Early in the publishing process, go to a bookstore and research cover prices of books similar to yours. To sell books in traditional trade outlets, your price needs to be competitive. Overpricing your book by even just a couple of dollars can dramatically reduce—and, in some cases, wholly eliminate—national bookstore buys.

In some industries, it’s standard practice to determine price by multiplying production costs by a predetermined variable. Unfortunately, this formula doesn’t always work in the book industry. If you want national retail distribution, the price has to be acceptable to the buyers—and they define “acceptable” as comparable to other titles in the category.

If your costs are too high to produce an acceptable profit at a competitive cover price, consider increasing your print run. Your price per book drops as your print quantity increases, and your chances of selling higher quantities increases as your cover price decreases, so be sure to consider the big three before going to press: (1) cover price, (2) print quantity, and (3) profit per unit.