In Your Corner: Settling on a Price

We’ve been at it for a few weeks now, examining a few of the many choices authors have to make during the self-publication and marketing processes, starting with the Big Whopper (“Choosing a Self-Publishing Company“) middling with the choices authors make regarding the text itself (“Choosing a Trim Size for Your Book“), and winding through deciding on a genre for your book–assuming, of course, that genre remains a useful identifier (“Know Thyself (& Thy Genre)“).  Today, we’re going to look at something a little different.  We’re going to ask the money question.  (Or … one of the money questions.)

How Much Do I Charge Per Book?

I’m already aware it’s complicated. Just tell me already.

It’s true.  Pricing is complicated, not least by the fact that we’re probably looking at two different products here, even when we’re talking about one book–because let’s face it, it’s a good idea to sell both a digital copy or ebook edition as well as a physical copy or print edition of your book.  The more diverse your offerings, and so on and so forth.

price in euros

Some facts hold true no matter which edition you’re looking at, however.  The first being:

  • Pricing your book too high relative to your competitors all but guarantees your readers will go elsewhere.

Readers are whatever the book version of an omnivore is called.  (A genrevore?  Never mind.  I’m terrible at coining memes.)  They’re far more likely to pick a sequel of a book they’ve already read than a book by a new author, and failing that, they’re more likely to pick a book within the same genre as an existing favorite.  But a book by an unfamiliar author that’s expensive compared to its shelfmates?  Not going to happen.

The second fact?

  • Pricing your book too low undercuts the perceived value of your book, unless the pricing is temporary.

When we talk about selling readers on a new book, we’re actually making a value proposition; we are attempting to cultivate a perceived value of the book in someone who has never encountered it before, and there’s nothing that shouts “Not worth my time!” than something that doesn’t come with its own built-in novelty factor. There should be a synergy between the quality of your book as an object in the hand and its price; and unless you’re creating the aforementioned novelty by running a short-term sale or discount, your book should be only fractionally lower than the average price of a new book in its genre.


  • Print books need to account for physical manufacture costs.

So, yes, your ebook should probably cost less than your print edition. It follows.

And lastly:

  • Price is a question of audience.

What does your audience expect of a book like yours?  I’m not just talking about genre; I’m talking about length (Wolf Hall costs more than Moll Flanders, for example), paper and binding quality, whether it’s an oversize or mass market size, hardback or paperback.  The only real way to make a thoroughly researched decision on what these expectations mean in terms of pricing in today’s market is to wander through a bookstore.  Don’t just hang around in one section, either–walk every aisle.  Eye every book.  What qualities does your book share with each item?  What makes it stand out?  Flip through books of a similar page count.  Turn a few books with similar cover designs and aesthetics over to check the price.  Check the gloss of the pages.  Count the illustrations.

Ultimately, the price of your book can only be set and determined by you, so you will at some point have to just make a call and stick with it.  But if you’re feeling particularly brave, take your book in to a bookseller and without giving them much of a clue, let them handle the book and try to guess the price.  Let them estimate how much they would charge.  Neighborhood and indie bookstores are the best for this.  There’s no substitute for experience, and there’s not substitute for the assurance that you’re part of a larger network and system dedicated to putting books like yours in the hands of eager readers.

You are not alone. ♣︎


ABOUT ELIZABETH JAVOR: With over 18 years of experience in sales and management, Elizabeth Javor works as the Manager of Author Services for Outskirts Press. The Author Services Department is composed of knowledgeable publishing consultants, pre-production specialists, customer service reps and book marketing specialists; together, they all focus on educating authors on the self-publishing process to help them publish the book of their dreams. Whether you are a professional looking to take your career to the next level with platform-driven non-fiction or a novelist seeking fame, fortune, and/or personal fulfillment, Elizabeth Javor can put you on the right path.

Amanda Hocking’s Road to Success with Indie Publishing

Today’s post is by book marketing industry expert, Kelly Schuknecht.

Amanda Hocking has become an indie and digital publishing super star.  The author of 17 books, she began self-publishing them as e-books in April 2010, and what a year it has been!  She has earned over a million dollars in royalties and landed a traditional publishing contract for her next series.

How did she do it?  Amanda writes young adult paranormal romance, and prices her books with a marketing strategy in mind.  She published the first book in each series with a price of just $.99 to encourage sales.  Once readers were hooked, the price of her second book in the series was just $2.99.  She would set the price of the final book in the series at about $8.99.  When readers would purchase all of the books in the series, Amanda would make “a pretty decent profit.”

Hear about Amanda’s road to success in her own words in this Associated Press video:


DISCUSSION: How do you use marketing strategy when you set your pricing?

Kelly Schuknecht works as the Director of Author Support for Outskirts Press.  In addition to her contributions to the Outskirts Press blog at, 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 at

The Importance of Distribution in Self Publishing

If a publisher focuses on discounts to an author who buys their own book in bulk, that often communicates two things. 1) That publisher is more concerned with selling to you than to other readers. 2)  The publisher is charging you too much for lower quantities. Do you really want to be forced to buy 100 books at a time just to get a fair price? “Bulk” discounts simply trick the author into buying more books than they need, which defeats the whole advantage of on-demand printing.

I’ve seen many authors go down that road, and then end up with lots of books sitting in their garage or basement that no one knows about, because the distribution piece is missing.  The power of the on-demand printing and EDI distribution offered in custom self-publishing take advantage of wholesale availability via multiple sales channels including Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Borders, Baker and Taylor, and Ingram—North America’s largest distributor.  Look also to see that your book is available through I-Page, the book ordering system available at over 25,000 bookstores and retail chains world-wide.

Do look also for a publisher that will sell your book to you at a special author discounted price as well.  It’s never a bad idea to have access to an inventory to compliment your virtually endless on-demand inventory.

The power of distribution when paired with flexible pricing creates an advantageous sales combination for the self-publishing author.

Share this Post

Self-Publishing Pricing Considerations

Book pricing is important to consider when exploring self-publishing options. Many authors get pulled in by little or no upfront costs. It’s important to investigate how that publisher benefits from such a model.

The fact is, most publishers charge you the wholesale price (or higher) for your own book unless you buy it in bulk?

The wholesale price! How are you supposed to make any money reselling your book to retailers? The wholesale price is what retailers will expect to pay.

Make sure your publisher offers author copy base prices below wholesale. Through a bit of investigation you’ll likely find that with a strong publisher your base prices are usually dollars below other publishers.

Most publishers attempt to conceal this by offering “bulk discounts” on large book orders of 100, 200, 500, or more.

Do you really want to buy 500 copies all the time, just to get a reasonable “per unit” price? Yes, when your book is first published, this might be okay because you’ll need marketing copies.

But what about 1-3 years down the road, when you just want 10 quick copies? Then what will each book cost you?

Just something to be aware of as you finish up your manuscript.

Have fun and keep writing.

– Karl Schroeder

Self-Publishing: The New Black

Last Friday I happened to run into a new friend at a coffee shop down the street from my home. She also works in the publishing industry as a consultant, but more on the traditional model side. We enjoy running in to each other and talking shop.

This last run-in she mentioned a new author for which she’s providing ghostwriting and consulting services. Amy was evidently reserved in progressing with the project and I pressed for a bit more information. As it turned out, this particular author Amy was working with has a timely book topic on the table with a pressing eagerness to see it published; and with business savvy, the author wanted to see an attractive return on investment.

“Okay, what concerns do you have?” I asked. Amy first responded that shopping for an agent to pick up the book would push the timeline way back, and then between the agent’s and then the publisher’s cut, what could she reasonably expect to provide as an incentive to her author.

I couldn’t help but smirk. With self-publishing, authors retain exclusive control and full royalties, while having their books published in full-service style – start to finish – in around 12 weeks. Amy’s look was one of almost disbelief. When I mentioned all of these things along with the advantage of unlimited on-demand, international distribution offered by the best full-service self-publishing options she was noticeably, informed.

If you are an author, or publishing professional, revisit this question: What are your publishing goals? For many authors, the most important goals are:
1) Keeping 100% of your rights and creative control to your book
2) Keeping 100% of your author royalties
3) Setting your own retail price, profit, and author discount
4) Publishing a high-quality book that is available worldwide

I hope that helps. Keep writing…

– Karl Schroeder