Welcome back to our Tuesday segment, where we’ll be revisiting some of our most popular posts from the last few years.  What’s stayed the same?  And what’s changed?  We’ll be updating you on the facts, and taking a new (and hopefully refreshing) angle on a few timeless classics of Self Publishing Advisor.


[ Originally posted: February 3rd, 2011 ]

“Is my book too expensive?”

“Am I selling myself short?”

Traditionally-published authors usually don’t have any control over the price of their book. As a self-published author, though, how can you make sure you have priced your book appropriately? There is no hard and fast rule, unfortunately. However, here are a few things to consider while coming up with a pricing strategy for self-publishing a book:

  1. How much royalty will you earn from every book sale? If you’re planning on writing full-time, you want to make sure you’re making a sustainable amount per book ($1.50 – $2.75 is reasonable).
  2. What is your target market? Is your intended reader a teenager or an affluent attorney? You want to keep your audience in mind so that you don’t price yourself out of the market. You won’t be very successful if your ideal reader can’t afford to buy your book.
  3. Where do you want to sell your book? Trade discounts often determine where a book is sold. Most online retailers are fine with a short trade discount (less than 40%). However, big box stores, such as Borders, Barnes&Noble, etc. require at least a 50% discount (in addition to a solid marketing plan and full return-ability) to consider carrying your book. If you can’t imagine self-publishing your book without it being stocked on the shelves of your nearest B&N, you should consider going with 50% (though it will cut down on your royalties).
  4. How has your competition priced their books? Research books similar to yours. Make sure the page count is similar, it was published recently, and hopefully self-published. You don’t want to price your book too high above (or too low beneath) these books.
  5. Have you asked an expert? Now is not the time to guess. This is your livelihood. Your best bet is to employ the services of someone who is already familiar with the self-publishing industry, like a Publishing Consultant. These people know the book business, and they can help you with questions like these.

DISCUSSION: How did you decide on a price for your book?

by Elise L. Connors

I absolutely love Elise’s post on ebook pricing, especially since most of the points hold steady in the face of a rapidly changing market.  There’s very little that’s the same in 2016 as it used to be in 2012 when it comes to the world of self-publishing in digital formats––except for this!  And while some figures may require updating––and Borders has gone altogether out of business––I cannot think of better advice than what Elise gave us in these five simple points.

online shopping

One recent event has, of course, dramatically altered the parameters by which you should set your ebook’s price: Hachette won its suit against Amazon.  What does this mean?  Why should indie authors care about a battle between an online retailer and a traditional publishing company?  I can think of several reasons.

One: Amazon is far and away the largest online retailer of ebooks, outpacing Barnes & Noble by leaps and bounds and leaving Apple’s iBook store and the Google Play store to contend for the last percentages of the market with their book subscription services and bundles.

And two: Hachette’s win means that Amazon no longer gets to keep ebook prices artificially low––justifiably low, in Amazon’s opinion––as the prices of ebooks put out by the Big Five traditional publishing houses cannot be reduced by the third party online seller.  As a consequence, ebook prices have been soaring––as the Big Five set higher prices to rake in more profit, many self-publishing authors are following suit because of the luxury principle; they don’t want their books to be assumed inferior in quality just because they’re less expensive.

A lot of factors go into your price-setting decision.  Are you looking mostly for exposure?  If you are, then selling your book at a dramatically reduced price (say, a $0.99 deal) may well get your book in front of more pairs of eyes than if you price it higher (say, around $9.99).  A low price might also help lure in readers who are itching to try a new book but only have a little free cash to risk.  But a low price cuts into your royalties, and for Amazon especially the highest royalties (around 70%) come when you price your book around the $2.99 sweet spot.  You may lose a few risk-conscious readers, but you only need one reader to purchase your book to every two who turn away in order to break even in your royalties when you boost your price to $2.99.

Your book’s genre and length can also play a role.  Remember Elise’s fourth point, above?  If you’ve written a book that falls neatly to a particular genre (or perhaps, relates un-neatly to several) then you should take a long look at how similar novels of a similar length and style are being priced.  All books are wonderful things and no genre is inherently more “literary” than another, but a pragmatic author must recognize that human perception is flawed and nowhere near as egalitarian as we’d like.  This is to say, romances, Westerns, science fiction, and fantasy tend to be priced more cheaply than, say, a travelogue or political exposé.  You don’t want to price your book outside of your ideal reader’s expected range.

In a lot of ways, it’s easy to lose sight of your vision for your book when the price dominates conversation.  Here’s my advice for pricing an ebook in 2016: Do your research, consult an expert, and make the call.  Don’t spend too much time deliberating, or you’re missing out on the most important thing that you as an author can be doing: writing another book!  ♠

KellyABOUT KELLY SCHUKNECHT: Kelly Schuknecht is the Executive Vice President of Outskirts Press. In addition to her contributions to the Outskirts Press blog at blog.outskirtspress.com, Kelly and a group of talented marketing experts offer book marketing services, support, and products to not only published Outskirts Press authors, but to all authors and professionals who are interested in marketing their books and/or careers. Learn more about Kelly on her blog, kellyschuknecht.com.

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