So you've written a book, and now you wanna sell it for money. How exactly do you do that? What price are you gonna give to that book? I mean, we all know your work is priceless. (It’s not.) But at some point, you’re gonna have to slap a barcode on that bitch and get some coin. That's what we're talking about today.
I am breaking down my ten best tips for pricing your book. Pricing a book can be a lot harder than people assume. There are so many different factors to take into consideration, like the cost of production, the length of your novel, or the format of your novel. Do you plan to go ebook exclusive? Or are you planning to create a paperback and hardback? Do you plan to price competitively with comp titles? Or do you wanna lowball the figure in order to increase your exposure?
Have I confused you yet? Don't worry, we'll cover everything you should consider before pricing your book, as well as different marketing strategies and sales goals. Take some notes because, by the end of this video, you will have an action plan for pricing your novel in a way that will suit your book as well as your business expectations. Let's get to it.
*Please note these tips and tricks are pretty much only for self-published indie writers. If you're going the traditional publishing route, you will not be able to choose the price of your novel, which is both a blessing and a curse.
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Number 1: Understand the Format
You have ebooks, paperbacks, hardbacks, and audiobooks, and they are all priced differently. Ebooks are almost always the cheapest and that's for a very logical reason; they are the cheapest to distribute and produce. It's digital. There's no physical production or paper involved, which is why we see ebooks usually priced anywhere between $10 to $0.99. Then there are paperbacks and hardbacks, which are usually more expensive than ebooks because they are expensive to print. You have all that ink and paper, you have the glue and the binding. And, of course, hardbacks are going to be even more expensive because they are sturdier and they typically include a jacket.
Then there's the cost of preparing, boxing and distributing these books. This is why physical books are usually a lot more expensive than ebooks. There are a lot of costs involved that are taken out of the profit of the book, leaving writers with usually a pretty small percentage of royalties. Plus there are audiobooks, which probably aren't worth discussing because usually, you don't get to pick the price of your audiobook. Platforms like Audible will price your audiobook based on its length, so that's one less thing you gotta think about.
Number 2: Royalty Rate
A royalty rate is the percentage of payment you will receive from each book sold. Basically, your ebook may be priced at $5, but you're not going to receive $5. Instead, you're going to receive a royalty rate which is that $5 selling price minus any costs associated with publication and distribution. Different formats and publishing platforms have different costs, so the royalty rate is going to vary from platform to platform, and from book to book.
For example, if I sell a Kindle ebook through Amazon, they give me about a 70% royalty rate. This means for a $5 book, I get to keep $3.50. For a physical book, like a paperback or hardback, that royalty rate is going to be a lot lower because physical books are a lot more expensive to print. That means I can't price my paperback at $5. If I did, I probably wouldn't make a dime. Basically, the royalty rate you incur is going to go a long way in dictating how you price your book. The more expensive it is to print your book, the higher you're going to have to price it in order to incur royalties.
Number 3: Industry Averages
This is the most basic thing authors need to do before pricing their book and yet it's something that so many skip over. Obviously, you need to do a lot more research than this, but at the very least research industry averages for book prices. For example, The School Library Journal often posts average prices of young adult books, children’s books, adult books, and graphic novels in both paperback and hardback format. This will, at the very least, give you a ballpark estimation for pricing. You can find industry averages through other resources as well. Honestly, you could probably just Google “average book prices" and get a ton of articles. This is literally the bare minimum amount of research that you should do before pricing your book, so writers, stop skipping this step, you big bag of beans.
Number 4: Compare Within Your Genre
You got the industry average price, which is great, but prices vary based on a lot of factors, including the genre. That's why it's important to hone in on your genre and explore the prices available. Genres can vary in price because genres often have different expectations. Certain genres are typically a lot lengthier than other genres, so those books might be more expensive. Other genres may be less expensive because they're usually read by serial readers who go through multiple books a day.
If you can, zero in specifically on your niche genre. For example, you don't want to just research fantasy books because that's too broad. Research your specific sub-genre or multi-genre category. For example, if I was looking to compare prices for The Savior's Champion, I would be looking at dark fantasy romance novels. And if I was looking to compare prices for Shut Up and Write the Book, I would be looking at writing craft books.
Number 5: Compare Within Your Audience
After you've researched within your genre, you might still notice a discrepancy with prices. This is why it's best to narrow down on comp titles which are essentially books that compare to yours. These are the books that make you say: if you like this book, you'll probably like mine. An easy way to look for comp titles is to check out the “Also Bought” section on Amazon. Say your book is comparable to The Bridge Kingdom by Danielle L. Jensen. Pull up her book on Amazon and scroll down to the “Also Bought” section. There you will see books that people bought alongside The Bridge Kingdom and those books might be comparable to yours as well. Study the figures and at this point, you should start to see some similarities in prices.
Number 6: Publishing Type and Experience
Are you comparing your book to traditionally published novels? If that's the case, it's important to note these two factors. First, it's not uncommon for traditionally published ebooks to have a higher price. I'm honestly not 100% sure why. My guess is that it's because more people need to receive a cut of the royalties. You've got the publishing house, you've got the author, you've got their agent. That's my educated guess, but I can't say for certain. The point is, it's not uncommon to see a traditionally published ebook priced at $10, whereas if you go the indie route, that is virtually unheard of.
On the flip side, traditionally published hardbacks and paperbacks are often less expensive than indie hardbacks and paperbacks. Based on my research, publishing houses often have agreements or contracts with printing companies that allow them to receive a bulk discount on printing books. This is a benefit indie writers do not have access to, so typically our paperback and hardback novels are going to have a higher price than comparable traditional paperback and hardback novels.
Lastly, we have publishing experience, which varies from creator to creator, so take this with a grain of salt. If an indie writer is brand new to writing and this is their debut novel, they might price their ebook a little bit lower than the norm. For example, if comparable ebooks are selling for $5, maybe they will price theirs for $4 or $3. This is to potentially give them a leg up because they're going into the industry at somewhat of a disadvantage. No one's ever heard of them and no one knows if their work is any good. You don't have to follow this approach, but it's certainly not unheard of.
Number 7: Book Length
This is specific to physical books. The longer your book is, the more expensive it is to print. Period. If you can't do the math, the higher the page count, the more pages you have. The more pages you have, the more paper and ink are required. Paper is expensive. This is why you often see really long books–especially really long indie books–at a higher price. There are some formatting changes you can make to help reduce your page count like shrinking the size of your margins or utilizing less space between lines, but you don't wanna go overboard with this because your book will start to look unprofessional really fast. This is largely why writers are encouraged to trim their word count the best they can without ruining the story. It'll save your ass when it comes down to pricing your book.
Number 8: Marketing Tactics
This has less to do with the firm price of your novel and more to do with how you can manipulate that price over time. A book's release is usually when it gets most of its sales. After that, your sales will likely drop and plateau. This means your book will be exposed to fewer readers over time, and you may need to incentivize readers to give your book a try, and you don't need to go to business school to know that the best way to incentivize shoppers is to hold a sale.
Putting your book on sale at strategic times and using strategic methods is a great way to gain more interest in your novel, and the easiest way to do this is specifically with your ebook. As we already covered, physical books usually have lower royalty rates, which means it's kinda tricky to put them on sale. But with ebooks, it's really easy to put them on sale and you have a wide range of sale options to choose from. Typically, authors go for a $0.99 sale or they make their ebook free for a limited amount of time. I've also found that the 50% off sale rate works great. This pricing strategy will help ramp up interest in your book among readers who haven't yet heard of it, and this increase in interest will also help your book gain better exposure through various retailer platform algorithms.
Number 9: Series and Sequels
For anyone who's in the middle of releasing a series or plans to release a series in the future, this point is for you and it's specific to ebooks. It's very common to change an ebook's price as you begin releasing sequels. Basically, the more books you have in a series, the cheaper book one becomes. The first book is usually referred to as The Loss Leader, which basically means you're taking a loss at the start of the series in order to encourage readers to pick up even more books, and thus make you more money. You're offering that book at a lower price in order to incentivize more people to buy it. If you read a book and fall in love with it, you shouldn't have too much of an issue paying a more competitive price for its sequel. Sometimes you'll see this format on a tiered system. Book One is $3.99. Book Two is $4.99. Book Three is $5.99. Other times the first book is $0.99, or even free, and the rest of the series is priced competitively.
Number 10: Sales Goals
What is your goal with this novel? Is your goal to make money? If that's the case, you should probably price your novel competitively with its comp titles and at a rate that gets you decent royalties. Is your goal to hit a bestseller list? If that's the case, pricing strategies can vary, but you may want to price your book a little bit lower in order to incentivize more people to buy it. Is your goal solely to gain exposure? You have zero consideration about money at all? If that's the case, a lot of people get their names out there by listing their books for free. Ultimately, your goal for the novel is going to dictate how you price that book. Just make sure that you give that book a price readers are willing to pay.
So that's all I've got for you today!
If you’ve got a new book release on the horizon, getting the price right plays a major role in your title’s success. But with so much information online, it can be easy to feel overwhelmed and have no idea where to start. This post sums up the most popular price strategies to give you a head start, help you narrow down your options, and pick one that works for you.
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