How much is your book worth? A few dollars? $25 bucks? Or does it even really matter? After all, your job as a writer is to create content, not price tags. Right?
Well, not necessarily.
If you’re planning on self-publishing your work any time soon, you’re going to need to consider its price point. If this scares you, don’t worry! Resist the urge to run away. In all honesty, correctly pricing your book could mean the difference between success and failure.
As usual, we’re going to pick apart the pricing structure of selling your next book, and take a close look at some foundational aspects that include:
- Why pricing your book correctly is important
- Ways to price your book (according to your goals)
- Best book pricing tips for beginners
- Book pricing’s most frequently asked questions
The Importance Of Pricing Your Book Correctly
Before we start throwing numbers at you, it’s important to understand why you should bother correctly pricing a book in the first place.
Whether you’ve been writing for a few months or a few years, you know that the work you produce takes lots of time and effort. Even if you don’t feel that it’s sucking the life out of you, book writing still takes up a significant portion of your time. If average estimates are to be believed, it takes as much as 4 to 8 months (6 months on average) to complete a book. That’s more than half a year! Hence, pricing your book correctly is a way to recoup some monetary assets in exchange for time spent.
Here are a few other important reasons why you should price your book correctly:
- Proper book pricing will make you seem more professional, and encourage more readers to purchase your work.
- Finding the sweet spot will lead to more sales and downloads. Prices that are too high or too low could dissuade a buyer from making any purchases.
- The right book price will increase your volume of sales by an enormous margin.
- People often judge a book by its cover price. Books with higher costs are perceived to have higher value, be more professional, and provide greater insights. That’s why they are sometimes referred to as ‘Veblen goods’ (luxury items).
As you’ve probably already realized, the process of pricing your book is integral to its success. Let’s take a closer look at how to price a manuscript and achieve your unique publishing goals.
Related article: How To Become a Full-Time Fiction Self Published Author
How To Pick The Perfect Book Price
Choosing a price point for your book directly coincides with your goals as a writer. There are hundreds of goals you may want to accomplish in your writing career, from fame and fortune to self fulfillment. However, for our purposes, we are going to choose two primary business thresholds: maximizing sales and maximizing perception.
The price of your book will also depend on its formatting. eBooks often cost less due to their digital formatting and online access, reducing costs. Paperback books cost more than eBooks, but their lower-end printing materials keeps the price within an agreeable range. Hardcover books are specialty printed, and therefore cost much more to produce. They are usually the most expensive book format on the market.
Let’s break down your goals and pricing points in terms of book format. Note: these are just suggestions, not rules! How you choose to price your book is up to you.
If you are just breaking into the writing field, you may want to price your eBook to capture the most amount of eyes. This means a modest price point of $2.99.
If you are already established, try pricing the book between $3.99 and $9.99. This may help you qualify for the Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP) Select program, giving you bigger royalties.
The average price range of a paperback book is $13.95 to $17.95. Bear in mind that paperback books come with publishing costs, which will take a chunk out of your royalty fees.
The lower end of this spectrum provides more audience members, while the higher end maximizes perception.
Your hardcover book should be priced $12 — $15 more than the cost of the eBook. For example, your $3.99 eBook should translate to a $15.99 or $18.99 book, respectively. As always, lower costs enable more readers to buy, while higher costs provide a perception of value and luxury.
While hardback prices are higher than other formats, it’s important not to go too high. Studies suggest not to price your hardback book more than $27.99.
Tips & Tricks For Successful Book Pricing
Now you know the basics of preparing a book price for the marketplace. However, there are still some tips and tricks to keep in mind before letting your manuscript hit the open market. Take these tips into consideration:
- According to ebook researchers, you should avoid pricing your book at $1.99 (if at all possible). This tends to fall in the middle ground between ‘nothing to lose’ and ‘so cheap it’s bad,’ which could keep readers from taking the next step. Instead, it is recommended to start at $0.99 or $2.99.
- Look at other book prices within your industry, genre, and subject matter. How are they different from paperback to eBook formats? How popular are the books?
- Choose to price your book based on value, not size. Value, meaning the relevance and usefulness of the subject matter, should drive your price higher. Additionally, the time cost of the piece (how long it took to write) should also be a strong factor.
Determining the right cost for your novel could take some time. If you are really dedicated to creating an actionable price tag, ask for input from friends, family members, and experienced writers in your field. Their insights could be invaluable assets during the pricing process.
Related article: ISBN Numbers: Why It’s Important and How To Get One
Book Pricing FAQ For Beginners & Beyond
At this point, you might be feeling a little better about how to price out your novel. However, there are a few other questions and considerations you may have about the process, confirmation system, and royalty schedule. Let’s look at some of the most common of these below.
What will my royalties be if I self-publish?
Royalties from Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP) vary according to type. eBooks have two different structures: 70% or 35%. Unless you meet a very specific set of requirements, you will likely fall into the 35% category. Here’s a helpful KDP calculator that helps you determine profits per royalty percentage.
How do professional publishing companies price their books?
Many professional publishing companies price their books just like self-publishers do. They follow a set-in-stone marketing formula that takes many factors into account, including book size, author experience, genre type, and more. Remember: pricing books at a publishing company can be a full time job! That’s why it’s so much easier to calculate and complete.
Can I change my book pricing later on?
Like many of the other questions listed, changing the price point of your book is directly correlated to the platform you publish on. If you’re like the vast majority of self publishers on Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP), you can change your work’s pricing info at any time.
Taking time to adjust your prices is a great way to find the book’s sweet spot. Pay close attention to reader analytic reports, and take note of the kinds of prices your audience likes best.
Is it a good idea to make my book completely free?
If you are just starting out in the writing world, you may feel tempted to price your book at the once-coveted $0 margin. In other words, you want to make access entirely free.
There are two arguments for and against both sides of this issue. On the ‘don’t do it’ side, the art of pricing your work for free no longer has any direct benefits. Kindle Direct Publishing makes it extremely difficult to price your book for free. It is also separated into a ‘free’ and ‘priced’ book section, which prevents your work from ranking highly.
There are still some reasons why you might want to make your book free. For example, more people will be willing to download and read something when they have nothing to lose. Readers could also leave positive reviews of your work, enticing more people to read. It’s a good idea to think about your goals and position in the marketplace before pricing anything for free.
Book pricing isn’t for the faint of heart. It takes lots of time and plenty of courage to put a price tag on the work you produce. If you don’t feel that customers perceive your book as valuable (or if they are taking advantage of low costs), don’t be disheartened! It takes time to hone your book pricing skills, and it may be awhile before you feel totally comfortable with the prices you set.
So sit back, take a deep breath, and start pricing out.