Price is a crucial factor in determining a book’s success. Many authors are tempted to set their book prices high to maximize royalties and/or recoup publishing costs. Conversely, some are so eager to move their books, that they price them too low to even generate enough income to cover their ad costs. While there are reasons to set your book price high or low or somewhere in between, the choice of how to price your self-published book is best made intentionally.

Self-published book price range

According to Scribe Media, a low cost for an ebook is somewhere in the $.99-3.99 range. In this range, you may be looking to maximize sales. Although your royalty is relatively low, this strategy works well to improve your sales rank, get readers hooked on a series, increase visibility as an author, or even drive traffic to your business website to potentially sell other products or services.

Some authors choose to launch their books at $.99 to generate crucial first-week sales activity to delight the Amazon algorithms. Doing so may be effective if you have a decent following, but you may miss out on full-price sales from those you know who will buy your book at any price.

However, to maximize the perception of the book’s value, you may choose to price your ebook higher. The high end of the range is $7.99-9.99. Authors choose this route to maximize credibility and royalties. Doing so may be at the expense of the overall number of books sold as readers gravitate toward lower-priced options.

And, of course, there are the prices in between. To “split the difference” between value-priced and perception, ebooks are priced at $4.99-6.99.

Paperback books generally range from $9.99-$19.99, with some outliers above and below that price.

So how do you decide what price is best for your book?

Start with you

Start with your goals, your vision for success, and where you are in the author spectrum. Are you a first-time author with a small audience and no ambitions for another book? Is this the fourth book in your epic fantasy series, with more on the way and a growing list of readers? The former may lead you to maximize royalties, while the latter may point you toward maximizing sales and your reader base.

Look to your genre

Research other books in your genre on Amazon or other online bookstores. If most ebooks in your genre sell for $2.99, that’s a great place to start. While you can price it slightly higher than the average in your genre, you’ll turn readers away with a price out of the general range. If it’s priced too low, readers may question how good the book may be.

Evaluate your book

Next, look at how your book stacks up against the competition. Be honest with yourself about the quality of the cover, interior layout, and editing. Look at page count too. If you’ve written nonfiction, try to evaluate the value of the contents compared to others on a similar topic. A 49-page ebook with general information will be priced lower than the complete guide on the subject. A competitive genre or nonfiction topic may fall in the lower range as opposed to a book in a less competitive category.

Consider the costs

While the cost of publication shouldn’t lead the pricing decision, the cost of your book and associated advertising fees factor into your setting your price. Ebooks don’t carry much of a per book cost other than a small delivery fee, but advertising costs can quickly eat away at royalties. For authors growing their reader bases and maximizing for sales, look to cost per click and cost per conversion rates in your genre to keep your profits in the black.

For paperback sales, not only should you consider advertising fees, but also printing costs, wholesale discounts, and seller fees (to Amazon or IngramSpark). Ingram distribution carries a 40-55% wholesale discount plus high printing costs. That leaves many authors with relatively small royalties for printed books.

To check how pricing affects royalties, check out the KDP Royalty Calculator and the IngramSpark Royalty Calculator.

Changing the price

If you self-published your book and have control of your KDP, IngramSpark, Draft2Digital, Kobo Writing Life, or other publishing back office, you can change the price at any time. You may do so for a book review site promotion, like BookBub or BooksGoSocial, to generate more reviews and expand your reader base. If you elected to participate in KDP Select for your ebook, you can offer your book for free for 5 days out of every 90-day period you’re enrolled for the same reason. If book sales falter at your chosen price, you can knock it down a dollar or two to see if it has any impact on sales.

How you price your self-published book depends mainly on your goals, your book, and your genre. But mostly, your price should reflect what the reader will pay for it. Adjust the price at any time if needed to maximize royalties or book sales to grow the number of people who love your books.

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