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How Are Books Priced?

KWE Publishing Newsletter - 10/05/23

Have you ever been to a bookstore, picked up a book, and been surprised by the price you see on the back? I know I have, and as many authors approach their launch dates, they start to think more about pricing their books.

Everyone has their own opinions about the cost of books, and authors, of course, want to profit from their books. But where the heck do the prices you see on a book come from? And why are some books so much more expensive than others?

Before we give you some info about how pricing a book works, it's important to note that the way you publish your book will play a large role in how your book is priced. If you self-publish or publish with an indie or hybrid publisher, you have more control over how your book is priced; however, if your book is published with a traditional publisher, you typically don't get a say in pricing.

There are also some methods that people use to sell products in a variety of industries that apply to pricing books, too. One method includes pricing a book at $7.99 instead of $8.00; even though the difference is just a penny, $7.99 feels cheaper.

With that said, let's take a look at some of the components that affect book pricing!

The genre, length, and market for your book matter.

There are certain expectations of how books in particular genres will be priced, but the length of your book and the demand for it are also important elements to consider when thinking about your book's cost.

For example, let's say a first-time author is publishing a short book about traveling to England. Since this is a niche topic and the book isn't incredibly long, the author probably shouldn't price their book at $25.  However, a well-known romance author who's releasing the first book in their highly anticipated new series would have more leeway when pricing their book. They already have an audience, and the market for romance books is huge—romance books are currently the highest-earning genre in fiction!

That doesn't mean that first-time travel author should permanently price their book at $0.50, of course. It just means they should do some market research, look at comparable books, and figure out some strategies to price their book attractively!

The format of your book is a big factor in how it will be priced.

When you look at the nitty-gritty details of book pricing, there are a few ways the format of your book can increase or decrease the price of your book.

First, the trim size of your book, meaning the width and height of the pages, will play a role. A 6"x9" book, which is a relatively common size for an adult fiction book, will likely cost less than a 7"x11" book, which is a less common size. If you choose to print your book on heavier paper, this will also increase the price.

And, of course, paperback books are less expensive to print than hardback books, meaning they'll be priced more affordably. Ebooks are typically less expensive than printed books, whereas audiobooks can be just as expensive as hardback books—and in some cases, more so!

Short-term promotions can often lead to long-term growth for authors.

The idea of selling a book you've worked so hard on for less than a dollar—or even giving it away for free!—is understandably scary. However, strategically doing a one-day-only sale or giveaway can help you in the long run!

Pricing your book at a low cost on its launch day can build up excitement for potential readers who want to read your book but still want a good deal. This is a great way to grow your audience, which means you'll have more readers for any future projects. The sales you get during your promotion can help boost your book's popularity in its category, which can lead to more purchases when your book is back at its normal price.

And remember, you can change the price of your book! If you find that doing a promotion isn't worthwhile, it's not something you have to do again anytime soon. But offering readers discounts on relevant dates (on the first day of summer, for example, if you've written a kid's book about summertime) can pull in new readers!

Ultimately, there's a lot that goes into pricing a book! If you're working on a book now, don't be afraid to do a little research and compare prices of books similar to yours to get a general idea about what your book may sell for.

What questions do you have about the writing or publishing process that you want answered? Feel free to reach out and let us know!

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