Wednesday, August 3, 2016

The Business of Writing: Print book pricing strategies #MFRWOrg #ASMSG

Pre-decimal till, Museum of Liverpool.
Photo by Reptonix; free Creative Commons
license via Wikimedia Commons.
Today on The Maze I begin a three-part series on book pricing. 

Though most independent authors release their books in digital format first, I'm going to start with pricing the print edition because this process is fairly straightforward:
  1. Determine the per-copy printing cost. Createspace and IngramSpark offer pricing calculators for this purpose.
  2. Determine how many books you will typically order at one time (ten, twenty, one hundred, or somewhere in between).
    Note: Createspace does not offer volume discounts, but IngramSpark begins offering a price break for orders of one hundred copies or more.
  3. Multiply the printing cost by the number of copies you expect to order, add the shipping cost, and divide by the number of copies to determine your total cost per copy.
  4. Perform research on independently published books that are similar to yours in terms of genre and page count. Don’t expect to be able to compete with books published by major houses such as Simon & Schuster or Harlequin. Their printing and shipping overhead will always be lower than yours because of the sheer volume of copies they print per title.
  5. Add a profit margin, but make sure your book’s pricing remains competitive with or even undercuts other books in its class.
Before choosing a low profit margin, consider whether you will wish to discount your copies for personal appearances. I subtract between two and five dollars from each book’s cover price to give my booth’s customers extra incentive to purchase my copies on the day of the event.

Whether you decide to include your book’s price on its back cover depends upon whether you plan to change the price periodically, or distribute it to book stores, gift shops, and other brick-and-mortar markets. It’s more helpful to retailers to provide the price printed on the cover, and it looks more professional since that’s the industry standard practice too.

A special note about hardcover dust jackets: Direct your cover designer to add the price to the inside front flap, which translates to the top left corner of the PDF image. If no price is present in that position, the bookseller could assume that the book was either independently published or that they have been given a book club edition. Neither assumption will help you sell copies to that retail outlet.

Next week: Setting your e-book's launch price.


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