by Nomsa Chirisa
Pricing your book may seem like the most difficult thing you will ever have to do, but it does not have to be. Each time I write, I ask my sister, “If you are to buy this work, how much would you pay for it?” That is quite a tricky and silly one, but the book pricing issue is one question that editors and publishers hear more frequently and is usually among the first to be asked. It is common, and there is absolutely nothing wrong with that.
Most writers will agree that this is the most exciting part of the book publishing process, where you get to price your book – remunerating yourself for all your hard work, challenges, and sacrifices you made. It is enthralling to calculate and anticipate for the dollars. This is one of the reasons writers write and publish their work, but how do you price a book? Just like with a writing coach, book prices are not one-size-fits-all. They are specific and depend on a number of factors.
Factors to consider when pricing your book
- Length of the book
- Value and quality of your content
- Production costs
Calculating the book price
Calculating the price of your book requires you to have a clear budget that will account for all the money you spent to get the book into the hands of the reader. These are referred to as the production costs. They include research, editorial, design, marketing, printing, and shipping costs. Some writers also factor in warehousing and transport costs if they rent out space to store their books before distributing them to the customers, as well as other overhead costs like phone calls and administration work involved in your book project.
After having careful consideration of the above factors, you are in a better position to calculate the price of your book. You do not want to set a high price, otherwise, you will scare away customers; you do not want to price too low either, you will rob yourself of your well-deserved remuneration. At most, you want to break even and have a little profit to yourself.
Pricing strategies help you to price your book realistically, according to the market needs, competition, and your establishment as an author. Here are the most common and practical pricing strategies to consider when calculating the price of your book.
1. Competitive pricing
This strategy allows you to price your book at the same price as your competitor’s. However, competitive pricing requires you to do intensive research on your competitor’s books. The trick here is that your book must be equally good as your competitor’s. Competitive pricing says ‘my book is as good as theirs’, hence pricing it competitively. Authors who use this strategy to price their books are outstandingly good writers, just like their competitors.
2. Market penetration
Entering a new market requires a careful approach. The market penetration strategy is used by new authors who want to penetrate the market and get established, or when an author wants to sell a new book in a new market altogether. Either way, the point is penetrating a new market. And the most common and popular way for you to capture a new eye and to gain their trust in your work is by selling your books at a lower price than your competitors. Mostly, but not always, the first print run is to break even – to cover all the production costs and remain with no profit. It hurts not to have a few dollars from your sales to compensate for your hard work, but if you are to be an established author, the market you establish is worth more than the profits you could have made.
3. Price skimming
In this case, you are selling a new book in the market which does not have competition yet. For instance, a book about opportunities beyond Covid-19 will attract the eyes of many and if no one has written and published that kind of a book yet, everyone would want to have a copy from you. You are therefore at a competitive advantage and can set a high price due to the demand – the higher the demand, the higher the price. Until there are books from competitors on the same subject, you will enjoy the benefits of having no competition.
What are the book publishing issues that drive a book price?
Book publishing is a process that adds value to a piece of writing. In order to have a reasonable book price, book publishing should be done with due diligence. The quality of your book is a major issue when it comes to pricing your book. Talk about its content value, text legibility and readability, the book’s industry standards and competitive edge, as well as the design and print quality. Matching the strength of your idea with good content is the way to start. Investing in a good editor and book designer is also equally central. Once you have produced a good book, you will realise that your work and that of your publisher’s team will ultimately price the book for you. Their efforts are evident in the end product and will drive the book price either too low or to a reasonable charge. That is why it is important to choose your editor, designer, printer, and marketer wisely.
Writing a book is an investment, not only of knowledge value but of monetary worth too. As you publish your book, you are banking on your idea that someday it will bring a return on investment. However, a good return is steered by a good investment. It is quite difficult to put a price on a good writer because their writing puts the price for them, but a book price is as good as the team behind it – the idea, author, editor, designer, marketer, and the printer. Arguably, the lower the price, the poor the quality, and the opposite is also true. As you develop your writing skills by writing more often, you will gain experience and are well on your way to creating a name for yourself. Pricing your book will not be difficult. While your readers believe that your book is worth its price, you would want it to be as good as its price.
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