How to Price a Sellable Book

You’ve already done the heavy lifting: you conceived an idea for a book and committed to the idea of publishing it. But how should you price it? This crucial question depends on a number of factors, including whether your goal is actually financial or not. Do you want to sell as many copies as possible? Do you want your price to reflect the worth and quality of your content, perhaps with a higher list price? The choice is yours. But before you decide, consider a few things.

Consider the Competition
Take some time to do a competitive analysis. Look at similar length books in your genre and evaluate what the standard price range is. Is your offering similar? Is the format you chose bigger? Is your book longer? Did you choose a higher paper quality? You’ll want to fit somewhere within the standard price range, while taking into account what makes your book stand out.

Too Cheap Vs Too Expensive
Set your price too low and your book can be seen to lack quality and value; set it too high, buyers will ignore your book because it does not seem to fit their expectations for how books like your are priced. You want to find the sweet spot where readers are willing to pay and what you feel your content is worth. Sure, a lower priced book may move off the virtual shelf faster, but if you’ve undersold yourself, that will not feel good in the long run.

The Formula
COST TO PRODUCE ONE COPY + YOUR PROFIT = RETAIL PRICE

The calculation is pretty easy. You factor in how much you are paying to produce one copy of your book, add in what your profit would be per unit, and there you have your retail price. You can also work backwards if it’s easier: Pull out your competitive analysis. Start with the average price in your genre and subtract the cost to produce one copy of your book. The remaining amount is what you can easily consider profit. And don’t forget, if you want to sell through Amazon or another retailer, you will have to include their required markup.

Keep Costs Down
If you want to keep your production costs as low as possible, make some smart choices upfront. When selecting your format, opt for a trade format, which offers quality and affordability. Since the trade format doesn’t use photo book paper, each unit is more affordable, enabling you to charge more and essentially make more profit per book. Size also matters. Choosing a smaller format and fewer pages will cut your costs. Lastly, a larger print run will decrease your per-unit cost. An offset run may save you a lot, but you’ll need to pay upfront for hundreds of copies and you’ll need to have a plan for distribution.

What’s Your Metric for Success?
While some authors want to earn a certain profit from their book, others are quite happy to see their book as a companion project that contributes to their overall success. This is why it is so important to evaluate why you are publishing a book and what you hope to achieve. You may want to showcase your expertise in your field, or attract speaking engagements, or anchor your website content in the tangible form of a book. Sometimes success is in selling more for exposure than profit. Whatever your intent, how you price your book depends on the kind of success you hope to have.

How did you decide how to price your book? Do you consider anything else when setting the price? Let us know in the comments below!

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