How Much Should My Book Cost?

Tuesday, June 07, 2016

When you embark on the journey of getting a book published there’s a lot to consider and one of the things that should be on your priority list is how much you’re going to charge for your book. The editors of traditional publishing houses must fill out a profit and loss spreadsheet (P&L) before they can even acquire a book, let alone print a book. The P&L determines what decisions they need to make in order to turn a profit on the book they hope to add to their list. One of the best places to start when determining the profit goals of your book publishing endeavors is to seriously consider the price of your book.

Look at Other Book Prices

In self-publishing versus traditional publishing, traditional publishers are already aware of what a book in a specific genre and of a particular trim size sells for, because it’s their business to know, but that doesn’t mean you can’t too. Go to any bookstore and take a look. You can learn a lot by observing the books your book will be rubbing shoulders with, including the average price readers expect to pay for the type of book you’ve written.

Find the section in which your book would be shelved, pull the ones similar to yours, and look at the price listed near the barcode. Only look at books you’d consider printing though. If you don’t intend to print a book that’s a hardcover, make sure you only compare prices with paperbacks. Be sure you also only look at examples that are roughly the same trim size, number of pages, and genre as the book you plan to publish.

Make Your Book Price Similar

One key to book publishing is making sure your title is priced similarly to titles like yours in order to be competitive. If you can price your book for slightly less than other books in its genre, yours may have a competitive edge when potential buyers try to decide between your book and another. Don’t cut the price too drastically. You still want to make sure you’re compensated at the rate that traditional publishers have valued books like yours, but if you can decrease the price by a small margin, it may help influence the consumer’s purchase.

Review Formats and Trim Sizes

While you’re at the bookstore, make sure to compare other trim sizes and formats to see if there’s something better suited for the book you’ve written. Maybe you thought you’d print a book in the 6 x 9 trim size, but discover that’s not a popular size in your genre. Maybe you thought you’d print a book that was spiral bound but find that the books it’d be shelved with are all perfect bound.

Don’t Price Yourself Out of Book Sales

The easiest way to manipulate your P&L is in the price of your book, but you never want to price your book higher than the competition in order to turn a final book-by-book profit. If you aren’t making as much as you’d like in the end, play with the other aspects of your book such as the paper, binding type, or laminate. With that said, don’t do anything so extreme as to make your book an anomaly in its category. One of our most helpful tips for getting a book published is to make sure it fits in your genre. You want your book to stand out, but not in a way that makes it peculiar or unfamiliar to the readers who typically buy that type of book or in a way that makes it difficult to stock in its appropriate bookstore section. There are other ways to make your book stand out in its category; format shouldn’t be one of them.


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IngramSpark Staff

Hi there! It's your friendly IngramSpark staff here, happily sharing a wealth of publishing knowledge with people from all walks of the self-publishing biz.