Saturday, June 15, 2013

Indie Author Series: Pricing

Indie Author Series: Pricing

Where to price your book is one of the most difficult things a new author struggles with. You want to make sure you price it high enough to make a little money on it, but you also want to make sure it’s priced low enough that readers will buy it.

I’ve heard a lot of authors talk about writing for the love of the craft, not to make money. Well, if you can afford to do that, more power to you. For me, writing is my career, so I’d like to make enough that I can keep writing without having to get a “day job”. In order for me to be able to keep writing, I need to make sure I’m making at least a little money on my work.

So where do you price your book for maximum effect? That depends on a few factors. Is it fiction or non-fiction? What is the page count? What percentage or royalty amount will you ultimately make?


Depending on where you have your paperback printed will depend on what you need to price it at. CreateSpace has a great little calculator where you punch in your trim size, page count, color or b&w, and then the price you’d like to set it at. It will tell you how much you’ll make per book at that price level. You can play with it and see what the ultimate price is, i.e., as low as possible while still making somewhere between $1.50 - $3 per book.


eBooks are a little different than paperback. There is no cost inherent in an eBook after you’ve completed the work required to have it eBook ready. By that I mean that with paperback, there is still printing and shipping costs. With eBook, you upload it once and then let it go. The great thing about eBooks is that you can price them very affordably to attract new readers. They’re getting a deal and you’re still making a decent royalty. Keep in mind that most vendors require you to have a minimum price of 99¢. Anything between there and $2.98 will generally make you 30-35% of your list price, and $2.99 and above earn you 60-70% of your list price.

Do the Math

If you think to price a book at 99¢ to sell a bunch, realize that you’re only making about 30¢ per book, and only 15¢ if it sells through a 3rd party vendor. Say you sale 100 books, 80% of which are direct sales and 20% are 3rd party sales. You just made a cool $27. Sell half of that (50 books) at $2.99 where you’re getting 70% and you’ll make $94. Big difference. To make that same $94 you’d have to sell 350 copies at 99¢. So make sure you’ve done all the math before you determine a price.


Non-fiction generally tends to sale at a higher price than fiction. There’s a lot of technical knowledge and research that goes into a non-fiction. So if you’re writing non-fiction, I think you can stand to price it a little higher. Of course, the best rule of thumb is to see what other books in your genre are selling for, and price it around or, if you can, a little lower than other books. For example, a fiction paperback might be priced between $12-17, while a non-fiction might run up to around $20. eBooks will probably be between $7-12 for non-fiction vs. $3-6 for fiction.


Why is fiction priced lower than non-fiction? I don’t know for certain, but my theory is that fiction is read for entertainment. Most people are going to only read a fictional book once. With non-fiction it’s a book you’re probably going to refer to multiple times and use to expand your knowledge about something. So for fiction, you want to price your paperback as low as possible. However, keep in mind that with fiction you’re going to sell far more eBooks than paperbacks (whereas with non-fiction it might be just the opposite in many cases). Anything above $16.95 might be a little much to expect someone to pay for a paperback, and at that it better be a full-length book (around 300 pages). With an eBook, many studies suggest that the books that will sell the most are those priced between $3-5. Anything over $5 and the sales numbers drop rather sharply. If your book is a short story or novelette, you need to drop the price even lower, somewhere between 99¢ and $1.99 for a short, and between $1.99-2.99 for a novelette. You can read about book lengths here.

Odd Numbers

This is just my personal theory, but I think if you price your book something unusual, say $3.96 rather than $3.95, it’s not going to make a different in your royalty for that book, but it is going to catch someone’s attention. For some reason, the $3.96 looks like less money than $3.95. Try it, see how it works for you.

Bottom Line

Pretty simple, really. Price your book where you’re going to make enough to keep you writing, but where your readers feel they are getting a good deal. You’re not likely to get rich off your writing, but if you have a good, well edited book that’s priced fairly, you should be able to make enough to make your hobby a career.

Want more opinions on book pricing? Hop on over to the other members of the Indie Author Series to see what others have to say.



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