Book Design
Examples & Costs
Contact & Quotes

What we do. Step-by-step process: how to get your book from manuscript to printed book. Estimate your costs by finding a book similar to yours.
For questions
or a free quote.


Book Pricing Basics

from Mill City Press

Setting the Retail Price For Your Book

Book pricing involves many factors, but the atmosphere of the general marketplace is arguably one of the most important to consider. One of the biggest mistakes a self-published author can make during the book pricing process is setting the price too high (effectively pricing their book out of the market). The cost to print your book is not the only factor to consider when setting your retail price--you need to also consider the cost of comparable titles, the “look and feel” of your book, the subject matter, etc. This is not to say that you need to undervalue your book, but be realistic when pricing your book.

When a traditional publisher takes on a new title, they make all of the major decisions about the book, including book pricing. These publishers have sales, marketing, and distribution forces all weighing in on the book’s price. They know what the market can bear and what the customer is willing to tolerate in regards to book pricing.

As a self-published author, the retail price of your book is ultimately your decision. It’s completely understandable to be concerned about your margin and to want to see a profit, but readers don’t share this concern. They don’t care what you paid to print your book, and retailers don’t either. The consumer wants competitive book pricing that is in line with other books in the genre.

With over 3,000,000 books published each year in the U. S. alone, itīs dangerous to think that your book is good enough to stand alone in the marketplace and that book pricing isnīt an issue. You need to price your book in the range of what is acceptable within your genre (non-fiction, fiction, how-to, etc.) and category (history, business, mystery, etc.).

How can you find out what this price range is? Do your research. Take some time to really think about your book before you reach the pricing step. Consider your target audience, other books in your genre/categories, your overall book design, and your print specs (trim size, paper weight, page count, etc.). Then peruse, your local bookstore, or another well-stocked retailer and find titles that match yours as closely as possible, taking special note of how they’re priced. This research will also be invaluable to you when thinking about how to position your book in relation to competitive titles.

While there are no hard and fast rules to retail book pricing, here are some general guidelines when setting the price for your self-published book.

Pricing A Non-Fiction Book

Book pricing should be in line with similar books in the market. Itīs reasonable to charge a slightly higher price for books that contain a fair amount of research, statistics, endnotes, charts, graphs, color interior, and/or other details that make it a fairly extensive and unique book. You should also consider the finished trim size (e.g., 6" x 9", 5-1/2" x 8-1/2", etc.) and page count of your book.

Pricing A Fiction Book

Here the page count comes more prominently into play. If your book is a 375-page novel, itīs reasonable to ask $16.95 for it. Most average-sized trade paperback novels fall into the $13.95 to $17.95 price range.

While we do suggest a retail book price for our customers, and use our experience to determine a price that we feel is appropriate, the final decision is yours. Make sure that you have done all that you can to understand the market, and price your book accordingly. An overly-inflated price will cause you to lose your competitive edge before your book ever even reaches a retailer!

Pricing A Poetry Book

Poetry books are generally priced lower than non-fiction and fiction titles, especially collections published by emerging poets. Though your voice is distinct and your content fresh, poetry books and chapbooks are so prevalently published today that successful marketing depends heavily on price. Say you’re browsing a bookstore shelf for some poetry and you come across two collections you’re considering for purchase. One costs $8.99, and the other costs $11.99 – which are you more likely to buy? These lower priced poetry books are going to be your major competitors, and as a result, you must sell your book at a competitive price. If you’re certain you’ll publish a second book, you may want to underbid the hottest poetry sellers, and incrementally raise the price of your subsequent publications.

To determine what you should price your book, visit the poetry section in your local bookstores and study the prices of similar publications (i.e. similar in size, subject matter, style and voice). This should give you a reasonable range for the sales price for your book. Research and browse online retailers such as and the Wordclay Bookstore for prices as well. Who knows? You may discover niche markets and retailers that perfectly fit your title’s mood and marketing scheme.

It’s true – lowering the price of your poetry book will ultimately lower the royalties you earn with each sale. Bear in mind, though, that the more attractive the price of your book, the more copies you’re likely to sell. And the more copies you sell, the larger your readership will become, not only increasing the prestige your name will invoke when mentioned, but also paving the way for your future publications.

Pricing An eBook

There are a few rules that come into play when you decide to set the price for your eBook:

It cannot be priced at $0.00. This is because each retail website charges a small service fee for the download of the eBook file. An eBook has to be at least $0.99 in order to be sold on any retail website.

Anywhere between $2.99 and $9.99 is considered an "acceptable" price. Research has shown that customers are more willing to purchase an eBook if it's priced significantly lower than a paperback or hardcover book.

Certain retailers will pay higher royalties if your eBook is priced between $2.99 and $9.99. For example, will pay out 70% of the retail download price as long as your eBook is between $2.99 and $9.99. If it priced above or below these margins, will only pay out 35% of the retail download price.

Take your audience into consideration. Will they be more willing to read your eBook if it's sold at a low price? Probably!

Do some research. Look at other eBooks that are in the same genre as yours. What price are they being sold for? Be competitive!


When should I start thinking about book pricing?

While it’s great to start thinking about your retail book pricing right away (that way you can start to check out competitive titles early), the retail book price isn’t finalized until your book has been fully designed. This means that your book cover is complete, and that your text has been typeset.

How do I determine what percentage of my retail book price I will make from the sale of each book?

Break down how trade sales will work so that you can see your net earnings. As a general rule, you can anticipate a wholesale discount of 55 percent, which is applied to your retail price. A 55 percent (55%) wholesale discount is industry standard, and allows wholesalers to sell your book to retailers at a 40 percent (40%) discount (also industry standard). Depending on your distribution options, you may also need to deduct the percentage that the distributor takes of the wholesale.

Breakdown for Expanded Distribution Program:

Let’s say that your book has a retail price of $14.95, costs $2.00 per copy to print, your wholesale discount is 55 percent (55%), and that the distributor takes 15 percent (15%) of the wholesale. Sales through the distributor would be calculated as follows.

$14.95 (retail price) - 55% (wholesale discount) = $6.73 (wholesale price) - 15% (distributor’s fee) = $5.72 - $2.00 (print cost) = $3.72

In this case, you will have already paid for the printing up front (as books in distribution are not printed on-demand). This means that the print cost will not be deducted when sales are reported on your monthly distribution statements, but that you’ll need to deduct it in order to calculate your true net earnings.

Breakdown for Distribution to Online Retailers (POD Distribution):

In this case, let’s say that your book has a retail price of $14.95, a wholesale discount of 55 percent (55%), and a print cost of $4.08 per book. Sales through online retailers would be calculated as follows.

$14.95 (retail price) - 55% (wholesale discount) = $6.73 (wholesale price) - $4.08 (print cost) = $2.65

Books in this program are printed on demand, which means that the print cost will be deducted on the actual monthly royalty reports.

Canadian and/or US Pricing:

Quote from the National Book Network:
“As you know, the Canadian dollar has been very volatile recently. We have recommended that publishers not put the Canadian price on their forthcoming books and just put the US price on the cover. It is fine to print a price with the US letters beside it, i.e., $19.95 US and we have had some discussions about dropping the “US” beside the price, but for now it is acceptable to print “$19.95 US.”

Copyright Đ 2011 - All rights reserved