QOTD—Book Pricing

“How do I know what price to put on my book?”

As a former bookseller and a current publisher and author, I can tell you two things for sure:

If your book is priced over $15, it won’t sell.

If your book is priced below $8, you won’t make any money.

Now, I’m speaking of paperbacks, of course. E-books are bit different. First, you need to look at prices on the top sellers in your genre. Next, consider value for dollar.

Yes, it’s a book, yes, it’s a work of art. Readers still want value—that’s why, when your E-book is listed as “free,” so many people download it. At least half of them, maybe more, just want something for free.

With paperbacks, you shouldn’t price a 150-page book the same as a 300-page novel. You won’t get many sales. There are a lot of choices out there, a lot of reading material. Make it easier on your customer.

If your book is priced at $24.95 and someone else’s cost $14.95, that’s a huge difference and guess which one is more likely to be purchased?

If you sell directly, and your novel is priced at $14.95 with a printing and shipping cost of about $6.00, you’ll still earn about $9.00 per sale. If you want to sell directly to bookstores and other venues, you need to offer a discount of at least 40%, which means you earn about $3.00 per book. Still not bad, when you consider that authors’ royalties range from 10-18%.

Let’s look at the other end: an $8 book. Still the same cost to you of $6.00 and you earn $2.00. Selling direct. If you want to get into stores, you’ll have to discount those books to just under $5.00 and you make diddly. Now, if your book is only 150 pages, you might earn .80 per sale.

E-books are different, because there are such low costs associated with “producing” them. On KDP, you’ll garner 70% of the selling price; sometimes, yes, there downloading costs charged to you of a few cents.

A .99 book will earn .69. A $2.99 book will earn $2.09. Why would you offer your hard work for only .99, unless it’s for a promotion, for a short time?

On the other end, hardly any reader will pay $9.99 for an E-book unless the author is very, very well known. Some bestsellers can ask much, much more.

It’s value for dollar. Plain and simple.

RHP’s books run from $10.95 on up to $14.95 for paperback, $2.99 to $3.99 for Kindle. Authors make money, the house makes money, and readers are happy. And they buy books.

Short stories, usually just available as E-books, also seem to be popular. To me, downloading a story that runs a few pages, even for .99, seems more trouble than it’s worth; then again, I don’t read a lot of short stories. I prefer to dive deep into a novel and stay there for a while.

As an author, you can certainly whip up a short story and upload and sell it for .99—some authors make a killing that way. Particularly certain genres, such as erotica. I do not personally know of any professionals who do this, but I’m sure some do—perhaps under pen names.

And, since I have no experience with this, perhaps one of you would like to weigh in?

You could also combine your short stories into an anthology—same pricing guidelines as for novels.

If you keep your prices between that margin of $8 and $15, you should be able to sell books, if they’re well-written, formatted, and edited, with a good cover. Keep your E-book prices in the middle, too, and you should be able to sell your books and make money at the same time.

Of course, if you use one of those vanity presses that I constantly nag about, you’re going to have to raise prices in order to make even a couple bucks. So, yeah, another reason to avoid that!


One comment on “QOTD—Book Pricing

  1. Interesting, Robin, clearly a skilled balancing act is required to optimize and encourage sales–and actually make any money doing it. Much food for thought ~R


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