Pricing can be one of the hardest things to get right when self-publishing. To a new writer it may seem as complex as how airlines come up with their fares. To help ensure your book lands on the right shelf with the right price ticket consider the following:

Define your objective. Is it reward enough to simply see your book in print? If this fulfills your lifetime’s ambition and you can afford to be flexible with pricing (or even no pricing) then that’s great. However, as an authorpreneur trying to build a brand your pricing structure needs to be much more strategic.  

Production and retail costs. For print books you need to factor in the cost of producing the book. This can vary greatly depending on whether it’s paperback or hardcover etc. The better quality your book is the more likely it is to have an impact on the retail selling price. Your publishing and print consultant can advise on this as well as retailer and distributor costs.

Genre. Looking to see what other books in your genre sell for is a useful guideline. Avoid direct comparisons with bestselling authors though, especially if it is your first book. They can charge a premium. You can’t.

Value. Pricing a book low does not mean it will sell better – especially if it is marked substantially lower than similar ones. Instead it may raise questions about the quality and value of your work. Yes – there really is such a thing as too cheap! Similarly over-pricing may see it promptly returned to the shelf.  

Market worth. Remember that the reader only cares what the book is worth to them. It doesn’t matter how long or how much it has taken to write, produce market etc. Blood, sweat and tears don’t command higher prices!

Magic numbers. Prices ending in .99 attract the strongest response followed by .50 and .00. For print versions avoid using a price tag with something like $12.38. It looks like the book is on clearance!  

E-Books. Big online publishers like Amazon also have pricing structures in place. Familiarize yourself with your genre and similar ones to see how they are priced. However, if you are just starting out consider pricing lower to establish a good reader base. The more customers you attract means more potential sales later on.

Testing the water. You can test out different pricing models via social media to see what is most favorably received. Remember to offer an incentive (e.g. a free copy of your book) to ensure you get a good response.

Writing is an industry or career path which is highly competitive. To give yourself an edge, every part of the process has to be well researched and well thought out. Pricing is no exception. Try to keep an open mind and be prepared, at times, to let your head rule your heart; however hard that might be.

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Mary Vaux-ClarkMary Vaux-Clark is a freelance editor, proof-reader and writer. Her areas of interest include current affairs, travel, history and sport. She has travelled widely and worked in Hong Kong as an editor and ESL teacher for over ten years.