Practically every author thinks and wonders about this a lot. How do people come up with just the right price for their books? Well, maybe the prices that are printed on their books are not actually working for them, and that might be because they used the stab-in-the-dark method of pricing. Let’s see if we can figure out the best, most rational, price for your book.
There are two main factors at work here. One is to set a price that is comparable to similar books. And the other is to set one that will give you enough returns to pay your expenses.
Comparable price. When you took that field trip to the bookstore, you wrote down the prices of all your competing books, along with the number of pages in each one, and anything remarkable about any of them. So at this point, you probably have a very good idea of how many pages your book is going to be, and whether you have more features than the other books, or maybe fewer. Pretend you are a visitor to the bookstore, picking through all the book titles. Would you base your purchase on price alone? On the quality of the content (maybe more helpful illustrations or sidebars)? On the thickness of the book (more pages per dollar)? On the irresistible cleverness of the title? Sometimes even the trim size is a factor—a travel book might be more desirable if it will fit in your pocket, for instance. Probably some combination of the above, right? Unless your book is outstanding in a way that is obvious at first glance, it should be priced somewhere in the middle of the pack, according to all the factors mentioned above: quality, number of pages, and other features it may have.
Reasonable return. Add up all the expenses you’ve incurred in producing your book. This should include fees paid for services such as editing, design, indexing, illustrations, etc. And printing. Now divide that total by the number of books you’re having printed. Yikes! Maybe that comes to $300 per book! If so, you probably have no hope of recovering all of it anytime soon. But many of you can set a goal of making enough revenue from sales to cover your first printing. Then if you come out with more copies in the future, your only expense will be for printing, and you will start to make a profit.
Another wrinkle to keep in mind is that bookstores will take about 50% of your cover price, and Amazon will take 65%. This may start to seem like a donkey chasing a carrot, but with persistence, you’ll make it to profitability.
If you balance the two main factors above, you should be able to come up with a price that you will be comfortable with. You’ll know why the price is what it is, and you’ll have a reasonable sales goal to attain. Now get out there and sell your book!