There are a lot of factors to consider when you price your self-published book. Of course, you want to make the most possible, but you don’t want to be uncompetitive. It’s a delicate balance. So before we talk numbers, here are a few things you need to think about.
Questions to ask yourself before you price your self-published book
1: What is your publication goal?
Are you trying to reach as many readers as possible, get as many reviews as possible or spread a message, in which case, you would be happier selling at a lower price if it enabled you to have a larger audience. Are you using your book to grow your brand, and get people interested in you and buying some of your more expensive products, e.g. a life coach who has written a book to get known and get more clients, in which case, you can afford to price it cheap. Are you writing a series; if so, you might want to price the first book lower than the following books to get people hooked. Are you writing to achieve a financial goal? Think about why you wrote and published this book and have a pricing strategy that supports that.
2: How competitive is your genre?
If you have written in a very commercial genre such as crime fiction or romance, you will have a lot of competition and your potential buyers will be price sensitive. If you are an expert, writing about a specialty that not many other people have covered, then you can charge a bit more as you don’t have so much competition. Spend some time snooping on Amazon (always a worthwhile activity for a self-published author), check out the charts you would ideally like to rank in, drill down to the sub-charts and check out what sort of price books like yours are going for. Note, I’m talking about the RRP here, not the discounted price.
3: Where will your book be sold?
If you’re working with us, we will set you up with a Create Space account so your work is available on all Amazon sites, and also an Ingram Spark account so your work is available to hundreds of other retailers off and online globally. However, some authors like to cut the middle man out and maximise their profit by selling books directly, e.g. via a PayPal cart on their website or at seminars and events. Do you have plans to sell your book directly?
How to price your self-published book on Create Space
I’m going to walk you through the whole process. Before you start, you will need to know:
- the size of your book (usually 5 x 8 inches)
- how many pages your book is
- whether the insides are colour or black and white
Now head over to https://www.createspace.com/Products/Book/ and hit the “royalties” tab. Plug in the data above and the calculator will tell you how much you will make (your net profit) at each price point. This is after Amazon have taken their cut and the cost of printing your book has been covered.
It’s pretty straight-forward. The idea is you put a few different prices in to work out what you would make at each price point. In my example above, I tried £7.99, £8.99 and £9.99. The price in the Royalty column is what you will receive for each copy sold in that currency, i.e. how much Amazon will pay you. The one at the top, USD, is slightly more complicated because you have 3 options: Amazon.com (this is the important one and where you’ll sell the most), eStore (this is the Create Space store, in reality, most people will buy your book via Amazon, not this, but you could share links, e.g. on your website etc. to make a bit more per sale) and Expanded Distribution (this is Amazon’s larger network of retailers but you will make more money going to the same retailers via Ingram Spark, so if we are setting you up with an Ingram Spark account, ignore this).
After completing this exercise, you should have a good idea of what you want to price your book at and are ready to move on to the next stage.
How to price your self-published book on Ingram Spark
This process is slightly more complicated and will require the same information as before, plus:
- lamination – this is whether you want a matte or gloss finish on your cover
- interior colour and paper – is your book being printed in colour or black and white and is it going to be printed on white or cream paper (cream is best for most black and white printing, white is better for colour)
- wholesale discount – this is the discount you want to give Ingram Spark. They take a cut of the retail price, otherwise they would not be able to offer it to retailers below the RRP, and they wouldn’t make any money themselves. The lowest you can set this to and still have your book sold through their whole network was 35% at the time of writing. That means if your book is £10, you let Ingram Spark sell it to the retailers in their network for £7.50. If you plan to be stocked by large bookstores such as Waterstones, you may need to increase this to around 50%.
Ready? Go to https://myaccount.ingramspark.com/Portal/Tools/PubCompCalculator? and fill in the details just as you did with Create Space but adding in the lamination and wholesale discount above. Lastly, you’ll need to enter your price and choose your market; in my example, I have chosen the UK.
So you can see you would make slightly more per sale on Ingram Spark than on Amazon in the above scenario. In reality, most of your book sales will probably be through Amazon, they are the biggest retailer in the world after all, so let that guide you. Choose one price and use the same one for both Create Space and Ingram Spark.
Why don’t all retailers sell my book for the price I set?
In the UK, retailers are now legally able to sell books for whatever price they want. This is also true of some other countries. You have probably seen book price wars, e.g. when a big book comes out like the latest J. K. Rowling, retailers are desperate to get your custom so heavily discount the book. There is nothing you can do about it – they won’t notify you – and in any case, it doesn’t affect how much you make – they are taking the discount out of their share, not yours.
Can I change the price?
Yes, it’s quite simple to change the price (RRP). Firstly, you will need to get your designer to change the price on your cover files. Then all you will need to do is log into your Create Space and Ingram Spark dashboards to alter the price and upload the new cover files.
Do I need to put the price on the back of the book?
You don’t have to, but it makes you look much more professional if you do.
I hope you have found this article useful and it has given you a quick lesson in book pricing. If you have any other questions on how to price your self-published book, please leave them in the comments box below and I’ll answer them ASAP.