Self-publishing a book is easier than most people think, but if you’re going to make money, you need to make smart business decisions. It’s not just about writing great content; it’s also about packaging, distributing, and marketing that content effectively.
One of the most important decisions you’ll make when publishing your book is setting the price for your book. If you set your price too high, people aren’t going to buy your book. If you set the price too low, you may not make enough money to compensate for your costs.
So how do you know what price to set?
Understand Your Costs
The first piece of the puzzle is understanding all of your costs.
- Printing. Printing your own book is easier and less expensive than ever. With the right printing company, you can print large volumes of paperback or hardback books for just a few dollars per copy. It’s a good idea to shop around and compare offers from different printing companies, so you can find the best deal and the best fit for your needs. Once you have this piece of the puzzle figured out, you’ll have a good idea of how much it’s going to cost you to produce each copy of your book. Obviously, this only applies if you’re printing physical copies of your book; if you’re distributing digital copies, you won’t need to calculate this.
- Shipping and distribution. You’ll also need to think about shipping and distribution. How much is it going to cost you to manage incoming orders for your book, and how much will it cost to ship books to each individual buyer? You can include shipping as a separate cost, but with most consumers expecting free shipping these days, it may be better to include shipping as part of the overall price.
- Commissions and fees. Are you going to owe any commissions or fees when you sell books? For example, if you use an external platform to sell a book for $10, will you owe $1.50 in fees to the platform itself? Make sure you incorporate this into your cost model.
- Marketing, advertising, and overhead. What are you going to spend on overhead, marketing, and advertising? If you want to sell your books successfully, you should probably have a website, a social media presence, and a strategy to market and advertise your materials. This will all cost money, though it won’t be associated with your books on a per-item basis.
At this point, you should have a general idea of how much each book costs you. To turn a profit, you’ll need to charge some amount higher than what you pay per book.
Do Your Research
Next, you’ll want to do some research.
- Similar products. A bit of competitive research will quickly introduce you to products like yours. Are you selling a young adult, fictional paperback novel? If so, you’ll probably find that most of your contemporaries are selling books like this for $10 or less. This should help you ballpark the price you can charge your customers.
- Direct competitors. It’s also a good idea to see if you have any direct competitors. Are there people who have written books very similar to this in the recent past? If you have lots of competition, it’s advisable to price your product as competitively as possible, attracting people to your variation with lower prices. If this is a totally new market that’s historically been untapped, you can get away with charging more.
- Consumer demand. You also need to consider consumer demand. Who is your target audience and how much are they willing to spend on a book like this? Hopefully, you’ve already done some market research, so you have some background information here.
Finally, remember that it’s important to be flexible. Just because you set a price initially doesn’t mean you need to keep that price fixed indefinitely. Instead, you should periodically tweak your pricing as you learn more about your business.
- Observe patterns. Pay close attention to user behavioral patterns on your website. How often are people making a purchase? When do people abandon your website? If too many people are leaving prematurely, it could be because your pricing is too high.
- Introduce sales and discounts. Consider introducing sales and discounts, temporarily, to incentivize more purchases. When you lower the price by a few dollars, do you see a surge in interest in your book?
- Make different appeals to different audiences. Segment your marketing strategy and appeal to different groups in different ways.
With these strategies in place, you should at least be able to determine an introductory price for your book. It may take months of effort to settle on a final price that’s both profitable and appealing to readers, but you can eventually get there.