5 Guidelines for Pricing Your Book to Sell

So, you’ve created a unique book, and you’re ready to share it with the world. You just need to know how to price a book to sell. Pricing your book can be a little daunting. What’s too high? What’s too low? How do you set a price that works for you and your readers? Before you sell your books online, here are some helpful terms and factors to consider. 

Base Price: This is the non-negotiable cost of producing copies of your book. The first step when pricing your book is balancing cost and quality. What choices can you make to get the lowest possible base price and still maintain the integrity of your vision? This may mean choosing cheaper paper, cover, or format types to keep your work market-ready.

Wholesale Discount: This is the cost of distribution—how the distributors make their money in distributing the book. The Blurb Bookstore doesn’t charge a distribution markup, but if you sell your books online via Amazon or sell a consignment in a local shop will need factor the cost of business into the price.

Your Profit: The Blurb system is special in that you mostly control the price of your book and how much profit you make on each copy. The lower your base price, the more room you have to list your book at a competitive price and keep more of that book price for yourself.

5 Tips for Pricing Your Book

1. Study the Competition

Do your research. What is the price range for other books like yours? Shop local bookstores, look online, see what other authors in your genre do. Remember what people expect to pay is a big factor in their willingness to pay it. Set your book price too low and your book can be seen to lack quality and value. Set it too high and buyers may ignore your book because it’s not competitive with other books on the market. You want to find the sweet spot where readers are willing to pay what you feel your content is worth. 

2. Look at the Numbers


The formula is pretty simple. Use our pricing calculator to figure out how much it costs to produce one copy of your book, add in what your profit would be per unit, and there’s your retail price. You can also work backward if it’s easier. Start with the average book price in your genre and subtract the cost to produce one copy. The remaining amount is your profit. And don’t forget, you can list your book for sale in the Blurb Bookstore for free, but you’ll have to subtract a distribution fee for most other retailers.

3. Factor in Size & Quality

Consider how your book materials compare to other titles in your genre. 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. If you are still in the process of designing your book, you may want to opt for a trade book format that doesn’t include photo paper, so you can keep your production costs down and increase your profit per book. Likewise, can you use a smaller font or trim a few pages? 

Lastly, a larger print run will decrease your per-unit cost compared to print on demand. Talk to our Large Order Services team to get a custom quote for your project. (Keep in mind that you’ll need a distribution plan ready to go if you’re ordering hundreds of books upfront.)

4. Consider Your Goals

Decide what your goal is in publishing this book. Maybe you need to sell a certain number of copies to pay for an offset run. Maybe you intend to donate the proceeds from your project, and you have a target amount in mind. Or you might have to pay collaborators, contributors, or investors. Is the ultimate goal exposure and creative recognition, or turning a set profit? Will you consider the book a success if it is primarily a tool for booking speaking engagements, supporting a website or brand, or establishing yourself as an expert in your field? The clearer you are about your intentions, the more easily you can decide on a price. 

5. Just Pick a Number

When you’re first starting out, it could be that getting your work in the world is more important than how much money it makes. Getting your work seen and into the hands of other people is really rewarding, and your first project sets you up for your second. Most book-makers and authors find that second and third projects sell better or are more profitable. It’s important to start somewhere, and make modifications as you need to from there, so don’t get hung up on getting it perfect the first time. The big deal is getting it out there! 

How to Price ebooks 

One perk of self-publishing an ebook is that it costs less to produce and distribute, which creates a higher profit margin for you. However, customers also expect to pay less for an ebook versus a printed book. Here’s what to consider when pricing an ebook: competitor prices, royalty payments, and book length. 

First, look at how similar ebooks are priced at retailers you wish to use. Generally, romance, sci-fi, and fantasy books sell for less than literary fiction or non-fiction books.

Second, remember the royalties you receive from selling your book on Amazon vary depending on the price of your ebook. For books priced between $2.99 and $9.99, you keep 70%. Outside that price range, your royalties are reduced to 35%. If you’re selling in the Blurb Bookstore, you keep 100% of your royalties. 

Third, consider your ebook’s length. For short stories, between 1,000-5,000 words, readers won’t expect to pay much above $0.99. Longer novellas tend to sell at between $2.99 and $5.99. And for a novel, between $2.99 and $7.99 would be about right.

How to Price Softcover Vs Hardcover Books

The choices you make about color printing, paper quality, trim size, and page count all factor into the cost of producing your book—and its selling price. A hardcover book will always cost substantially more than a softcover book of the same size and quality. That’s because a hardcover book is often four to five times more expensive to produce. 

If you haven’t printed your book yet, start by using our pricing calculator to see how much it costs to print books with different cover types. You may have to make some tough decisions in order to balance your design vision with your budget and profit goals. When pricing a hardcover or softcover book, start with the base price and then factor in functionality, appeal, and competitor prices. 

First, how do you expect readers to use your book? Softcover or paperback books are lightweight, compact, and easy to travel with—though more susceptible to wear and tear. The accessible materials and convenience translate to lower prices. So, a 5×8 inch, softcover trade book with 200 pages of black and white economy printing starts at $4.75 per copy. Compare that to $16.75 for a hardcover version with dust jacket. Hardcover books are durable, heavier, and tend to last longer, so they tend to live up to their image as collectable, valuable objects. And they’re priced accordingly. 

Second, will your book be appealing enough to readers that they’ll pay more for an elevated, sturdier hardcover design? The answer may be yes, for a limited edition book of art, photography, or illustrations—or a keepsake photo book or memoir. The answer may be no, for a commercial romance, mystery, or sci-fi novel that is volume one in a series of five. Readers may also be willing to pay more a hardcover version if the quality fits the price point, and if there’s not a softcover version available. But it’s a risk you will have to consider. Some authors split the difference and create a softcover and hardcover version of their book to catch readers across the pricing spectrum. That’s always an option, too. 

Finally, unless you’re creating a truly distinct book or art object that does not clearly fit the existing book categories, check your competitor prices. How do authors of the same ilk, writing in your genre, price their hardcover or softcover books? That will be one of the best indicators of how books are priced and how much you can sell a book for. 

Don’t keep your readers waiting too long! Use these tips to get your book out on the market today. For more facts and figures, check out our blog post on the costs of self-publishing a book.

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