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Show me the money - How to price your book
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Show me the money - How to price your book

Your book is finished. You’ve had it edited, proofread, the cover is designed, the blurb is done, it’s perfect. How much do you sell it for? It’s worth a lot to you, blood, sweat, and tears, but what’s the best price to get the best return? Here are some things to consider.

You want to sell as many books as possible, but you also want to make some decent money from it. There’s a fine balance when it comes to book pricing and there are things you need to consider to get the best result for you. There’s no one-size-fits-all solution but here are a few things that you should take into consideration to make the best possible decision.

Are you known?

If you’re a new author on the scene then readers are less likely to take a risk on you unless they have a reason to do so. One reason could be that your book is priced cheaply and sounds good enough that it’s worth a punt.

Obviously, if you’re an established author with an existing fanbase you already will have people who are willing to spend money on your work as you won’t be seen as much of a risk, and can therefore price your book higher than an equivalent by a new author.

Is your book part of a series?

The most common practice when pricing books that are part of a series is to use the drug dealer method. The first one is either free or incredibly cheap to get new people hooked, then once they are you can up the price to something you feel is more representative of your work.

As above, new readers are more likely to risk a series of books if the first one is priced accordingly, then once they’re invested in the series higher prices will be more acceptable.

The caveat with this method is that you have to keep the series hot by releasing books on a regular basis. You can’t leave your readers high and dry for a year between releases, you need to keep them coming thick and fast to take advantage of the enthusiasm from your readers.

Fiction or non-fiction?

Non-fiction books are a different beast, the content has a value beyond simply being content itself. Popular non-fiction books generally have solutions for readers’ problems, and depending on what that problem is depends on what the information is worth.

A comprehensive book that teaches you how to do your own plumbing could save the reader thousands that they would have spent on a tradesman, whereas a book about knitting wouldn’t.

You need to think about where your book lies in that market and how much someone is prepared to spend in order to save themselves from the issue at hand.

Niche books will normally sell a lot less in numbers than more mainstream works and will therefore be priced higher, which is accepted practice.

One other thing to consider when pricing a non-fiction book is that it will invariably be read more than once. Whereas novels are seen as entertainment, and will normally only be read once, quickly, before moving on to the next one, a non-fiction book will be used as a reference tool, to be read again and again, with the book only being retired when it falls apart.

Fiction books are read once, faster, and bought more frequently, so will be priced lower than non-fiction.

Royalties and commissions

A big consideration is what kind of cut you’ll be giving to retailers. Amazon have a very definite structure for royalties. Under $2.99/£1.99/€2.99 and over $9.99/£9.99/€9.99 and you will be entitled to 35% royalties, in-between that price range and you can earn 70%.

To try to keep your book down but still get the higher royalty you’ll have to price at $2.99 which will get you $2.09, whereas a $1.99 book nets $1.39, so you’ll have to sell twice as much to see a better return.

Ebooks should be cheaper

The book buying public have the perception that ebooks should be cheaper than their physical printed copies, due to no costs for paper, printing, minimal distribution fees, etc.

Amazon also believe this to be true and state that your ebook should be priced at least 20% below the list price in any sales channel for any physical edition of your digital book.

You can use this to your advantage if you have both digital and print editions by pricing your ebook higher than you would if there wasn't a print version, as long as there’s still a significant discount compared to the hard-copy.

Say you have been considering pricing your ebook at $2.99 if it were alone, you could release a print version of your novel at $6.99 and up the price of your ebook to $3.99 bagging yourself another 70 cents per sale. Everyone loves a sale, and the large perceived discount will still get a good response, maybe better.

Freebies

The biggest discount of all is 100%! If you want to shift copies then free is the way to go. You’ll get copies of your book out there, but you obviously won’t see a return. This is good and bad.

It’s good because it completely eliminates the risk factor, and gets your book out there. More copies out there means more reviews, more chance to sell future books at a decent price. Supermarkets use this tactic to get you sucked in and buying more, they call them loss-leaders.

This method is especially great if you have an existing series of books that you are looking to promote.

However, free downloads aren’t registered in the same way as paid sales and you’ll have to shift a lot more books to make an impact on the best seller lists.

The other issue with freebies, especially limited time freebies, is that people will download the book to read at another time. There’s a sense of urgency with acquiring the book, but not to read it. You might see a benefit a week, month, six months down the line.

Research

Above all, have a look at what comparable books are doing and how they’re performing. You might find that where you imagine your book should be might be too much so as to discourage sales or too little so you’re not making as much money as possible.

Ebook pricing is forever changing, and one of the benefits of self-publishing is that you can keep current by keeping up with trends.

Let us know what you think about pricing below, and be sure to sign up to our newsletter which includes tips and tricks, and special offers for our services, including ready-made book covers and designs, eBook formatting, and promotional tools.

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