Setting the Right Retail Price

When you publish a book through a press, large or small, they will make or advise you on a few key decisions. As scary as it may sound, book pricing is one of those decisions.

Pricing is rarely a consideration when you publish a book. Most likely, you haven’t even thought about this until just now, reading this article. That said, pricing is one of the most important decisions you can make about your book’s public life. It will determine whether people read it, where you can sell it, and how much you (and your publisher) can make from those sales.

So, how do you set a competitive retail price? You’ll need to consider a few key factors. Look around at comparable books and their prices. One of the biggest mistakes you can make is setting your price too high compared to your competitors. Put simply, this will reduce the likelihood that anyone will buy your book, no matter how special you may think it is. Once you’ve settled on your specs (e.g. trim size, paper weight, page count, &c.), you can start to do some research at your local bookstore or an online retailer.

Next, you’ll need to figure out your print cost. This is one of the most important factors to consider in this decision. You don’t want to price your book so low that the printing costs eat up your royalty payments.

Now, you need to consider genre. If you’ve written a nonfiction book, it makes sense to price the book slightly higher than you might for fiction. You’ve likely spent yours of researching and interviewing in addition to writing, so you want to factor in your labor costs. If you’re publishing fiction, the more important variable is page count. A good rule of thumb? If your book is a 375-page novel, it’s reasonable to price it at $16.95 — that’s what most new fiction costs, anyway.

If you’re working with a publisher, they will either recommend a number or make the decision for you. That said, you should arrive at that meeting knowing your stuff. Come prepared with as much information as you can get – you want to be fairly compensated, but you also want your book to sell!