How to Set the Retail Price of your Book

As a new author, you’re going to have to determine how much to charge for your book. What should be your selling price? That’s a question you can’t take too lightly and there are a lot of factors which come into play. You want people to buy your book, so you must price it attractively enough that they believe it’s worth the cost. In addition, if your book is part of your brand, and it should be, it’s your calling card and as such, is a tool for creating business and sales. So, don’t look only at how much money book sales will bring in. If you do, you’re probably going to be disappointed. Very few people get rich from writing and selling books. However, they can get rich from the exposure that book gives them. That should be your goal, not trying to create wealth one book at a time.
Yes, I know, there are expenses involved in writing, printing, publishing, and marketing a book. Don’t try to recoup all of them, because you simply cannot. Like I said earlier, your book is a tool and the interest it generates in you and your business are going to be the ways you get your money back.

That said, what factors should you consider and what role do they play in your book sales? Here’s a list of the main points which should be considered when establishing the retail price for your book:
1. The costs of competitor’s books of the same size and topic. It’s a given that people compare costs, and someone looking for a book on your topic is probably looking at similar books, as well. The price tag could be the one deciding factor in
determining which book they’ll actually buy. Don’t discourage potential customers by pricing your book too high, but do remember that pricing is below market could cost you significantly. Can you afford that? When comparing competitors’ books, take a look at the content, the graphics, the number of pages, and use those factors to determine if your book is in line with theirs. If so, set your price competitively. If your book has perks and other obvious enhancements, you can probably price your book a little higher than the competition. You need to be careful, though, that setting your price lower than the competition in an effort to win over the buyer can actually hurt sales. Set the price of your book too low, and potential buyers might determine that it’s not worth as much as theirs-meaning that they’ll interpret the lower price as a sign that your book will hold less value to them. They want to buy a book which provides them with valuable information, so make sure your price reflects the value of your message.
2. Your financial investment in the book. While you might not recoup all of this, try to figure out how much each book cost from inception to the shelf. Take into consideration printing and shipping costs, as well as cover design, artwork, editing, proofreading, etc. If you’re using a print on demand service, your fees for printing will be higher. If you’re printing in bulk, it’s going to cost you more upfront, but the per unit price of your books will be less because the charges are lower per book when you print in larger quantities.
In addition, expect to be responsible for the shipping costs when you send your books to retailers, bookstores, and organizations. Generally, you’ll be expected to pay for the freight.
3. Discounts. If your book is listed on (and it should be) and other online retailers, you’ll be required to provide them with a discount. generally takes 55% of your sales. That’s a high percentage which leaves you
with only 45%, so consider the discount when you’re setting your price. Distributors take a big cut, too, so get your figures together and determine how much you’ll have left after giving distributors and retailers their discount. Then, deduct the per unit price it cost you to bring that book to fruition. Discounts also include quantity discounts, which you might be expected to provide to groups or retailers who order your book in quantity. This discount is usually set as a percentage off and often rises with the number of books ordered. Consider, too, that sometimes you’ll be expected to offer a lower price to charitable organizations, events, etc.
4. Promotion and PR. How much is it going to cost you to promote and market the book? To get posters, media kits, and press releases ready? These are all factors which will reduce the profit you’ll make from your book. However, they are factors which also have the capability of increasing exposure and the profit you’ll make.
5. Reductions in price for promotional events and sales. At some time, you’ll probably lower the cost of your book, either to clean out your inventory or to offer incentives to people to buy it at a particular time. This is great, however, take that likelihood into consideration when you set the asking price for your book.
Because of this factor, you might not wish to print your book’s price on the cover, which will give you more liberty and flexibility in changing it down the road.
So, there are a lot of factors which will determine just how much money you should ask for your book. Be realistic. Unless you sell millions, you’re not going to make a ton of money from the sale of the book alone. Your price tag should be large enough to help you recoup some of your costs but low enough that your book will attract the exposure and sales which will make you an expert or authority in your field. It’s a little give and a little take. You want to make sure you come out on top in the end.

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