One of the nicest benefits of self-publishing your book is that you get to set your own price! The question is, what should you charge?
In order to make that decision, it’s important to first understand how royalties are calculated. Read our article on understanding book royalties where we break down exactly how royalties are calculated for different formats and publishing platforms. Then come back and we’ll keep talking about pricing.
Given everything you now know about royalties, how should you price your book? My philosophy is simple: charge the highest retail price possible within the “acceptable” range of a book of your length and in your genre.
I actually don’t think cost is a big factor for most book buyers (though there are some exceptions for fiction readers looking for “hot deals”). Think about it. Unlike something like milk or bananas, potential buyers of your book won’t be browsing a shelf of similar products and comparing prices. In order for them to even show up on your Amazon page to consider buying your book, you will already have had to do a lot of convincing to get them there. They will be pretty motivated to make a purchase.
Book buyers generally have a range of “acceptable” prices that they’re used to paying for each type of book. So as long as your book doesn’t go outside that range and raise any eyebrows, you should be good to go. Given that, why not charge the highest possible price within that range? Again, there are some arguments to go much higher or lower than the range in special circumstances, but those tend to be exceptions to the general rule.
So how do you determine the “acceptable range”?
The simplest way to do this is to go to your local bookstore or go to Amazon.com and browse other books of similar length and genre. It pays to know how much your audience is already paying for similar books. Make notes of the prices and start to develop an “acceptable range.”
Just remember to compare apples to apples. In other words, as you’re perusing the bookshelf where your book would be located, or searching for similar categories on Amazon, only compare books you are interested in printing. If you’re not planning on printing a hardcover with a dust jacket then don’t take those into consideration when gathering your pricing data. You can’t compare the price of a hardcover to that of a paperback and vice versa. It’s also a best practice to look at books that are the same or similar trim size and page count to yours.
Take your time during this research phase. You’re likely to notice most paperback books are between $12.99 and $19.99, and hardcover books are generally over $24.95 to $29.95. But don’t take it from us. Do your own research.
Once you have your range, run some prices through one of the pricing calculators (KDP / IngramSpark). Plug several into the matrix to see what your profit will be. Again, we recommend a price towards the higher end of your range, but do your homework so you can get a sense of the real numbers before you settle on a price.
Remember that even if your book is wildly better than the competition, the reader doesn’t know that. They are judging your book based on its cover, blurb, and any endorsements you’ve collected – so don’t skimp on these elements. You might have the greatest book ever written, but if it’s not visually appealing to the reader or isn’t priced within their acceptable range, then they will never know what they’re missing out on and you will miss out on a sale.