How to price your self-published book

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ARTICLE INSIGHTS
  • To price your book effectively, you need to understand the current market for books of your genre, what price your competitors are selling their books for, and your profit potential.
  • The average price of a book differs depending on the format. Ebooks are typically the cheapest, followed by paperbacks. Hardcover books tend to be the most expensive format, since they’re most expensive to produce.
  • There are 5 key things to consider when pricing your book: your book format, objective, potential profit margins, competition, and scope for discounting your book.

Deciding how to price your self-published book is one of the trickiest parts of self-publishing. Set the price too low, and you can devalue your work; but set the price too high, and you might not sell as many books.

The nature of self-publishing means that the price of your book is ultimately up to you. Only you can put a price on the months (or years) of hard work that have gone into penning your magnum opus. But most authors who have written a book want people to buy it and read it - so competitive, fair pricing is key.

This book pricing guide will help you decide how to price your self-published book to maximise sales without selling your book short.

Who decides the price of a book?

For traditionally published authors, the price of their book is decided by the publisher. Large publishers, in particular, have teams of market experts who use lots of different data to determine how they’ll make the most profit from the book - which in turn determines the pricing.

Very few self-publishing authors have this kind of data and expertise at their disposal. But you shouldn’t be daunted by this. When it comes to pricing your book, self-publishing puts you in a position of power. You’ll take the lion’s share of the royalties, so it’s important to understand how book pricing works, and how to establish a fair price for your novel.

How to price a book

There are a few things you need to understand to price your book fairly. These include:

  • The market. What’s the going rate for a hardcover, paperback, or ebook?
  • The competition. How much are other self-published authors selling their books for?
  • Profit vs. loss. How much do you need to make in book sales to make your book profitable?

When you’ve established this information, you can figure out the best price point for your book to make sure it sells, and doesn’t get devalued.

What’s the average price of a paperback book in 2024?

Most new paperback novels retail for between £7.99 and £12.99 in the UK. In 2024, the average paperback book price is expected to reach £12.00.

Prices at the upper end of this spectrum tend to be reserved for hotly anticipated works, so you’ll probably need to increase your marketing budget if you want to sell your paperback book at prices that exceed £11.99.

What’s the average price of a hardcover book in 2024?

Hardback books tend to retail at a higher price than paperbacks - but they’re also more expensive to produce. Hardcover fiction books are usually priced between £16.99 and £22.99. In 2022, the average price of a hardback novel rose by more than £2, from £18.22 to £20.25. Prices are expected to rise further in 2024 due to inflation and rising paper and production costs.

As a result, you can make more per book from a hardback version, but bear in mind that many readers prefer to buy paperbacks, since they tend to be lighter and easier to handle.

How do you price an ebook vs paperback?

Many self-publishing authors publish their books solely as ebooks. That’s because it’s faster and cheaper to produce an ebook than a physical copy, thanks to the self-publishing tools available.

Ebooks are notoriously tricky to price, because the industry standard isn’t as defined as it is for physical books. You can buy ebooks on the Kindle store for as little as £0.99, or as much as £9.99. Some ebooks are even available for free download - so it’s a highly competitive marketplace.

Many self-publishing authors choose to set low prices for their ebooks to generate as many sales as possible. Because of this, many ebooks are available at a lower price than paperback books - especially if they’re new, or by relatively unknown authors.

However, highly popular ebooks can retail at a similar price to paperbacks - sometimes, they even cost more. So if your self-published book ends up being a bestseller, you may find you can ramp up the price of the ebook version.

5 things to consider when pricing your self-published book

Deciding which format(s) to publish your book in is just one of the things you need to consider when pricing your self-published book. In total, there are 5 key factors to think about when deciding how much you should sell your book for.

1. The format of your book

Now you know more about the average price of each book format (paperbacks, hardcovers, and ebooks), you’ll need to decide which of these options suits your novel. Weigh up the costs associated with self-publishing in each format, including book cover design and printing costs. With this information, you can determine how much you need to make from each book format to make it profitable.

If your pricing calculations fall outside the average price ranges above, you may want to stick with the most profitable publishing format (at least at first).

2. Your self-publishing objective

What was your main goal when you decided to self-publish your book? Do you want to sell a certain number of copies of your book? Do you want to make a certain amount of money? Your goal should inform your book pricing strategy.

If book sales are more important than profit, consider setting a lower price point for your book. Lower prices are more compelling to potential book buyers, so you’re likely to sell more copies if your book is cheaper than average.

On the flip side, if you want to turn a profit, you can’t afford to sell your book cheaply. Plus, you don’t want to devalue your work - higher prices suggest higher quality, which can entice readers.

3. Your potential profit margins

Even if book sales are more important to you than profit, making money from your book should always be at the back of your mind. At the very least, you should aim to cover your self-publishing costs. Work out how much you will spend (or have spent) on writing, printing, marketing and publishing your book. Set an initial sales target and use this information to cost your book accordingly.

4. Your competition

Check out the competition for your book genre and book length.  Long novels tend to cost more than short ones, while literary fiction tends to sell for a higher price than young adult books. Make sure your book lands in the middle of the expected price range for your genre and approximate word count.

Similarly, books in popular genres can command a higher price point than those in niche areas, so make sure you do your research on books that are similar to yours.

5. Your scope for deals and discounts.

If you’re planning to run discounts as part of your marketing strategy, make sure you have scope for promotions in your book price. Half-price discounts can still be profitable if your book costs £9.99 at full price. However, if your starting price is £4.99, offering this at half-price suddenly cuts the value of your book considerably.

Pricing your book is a grey area, especially for new authors. You don’t want to undervalue your work, but neither do you want to price out potential readers by setting the charge too high. If in doubt, set a higher price (that’s still within the average for your format and genre) and run regular discounts or deals for readers. It’s a great way to entice new readers without compromising on the value of your book.

The cost of self-publishing your book

Pricing your novel is just one of the financial elements you need to consider when you self-publish your book. From platform fees to book cover design, there are lots of costs to take into account when you’re self-publishing. To make your book profitable, you must balance these costs with the price of your book.

You can also adjust your book price over time to account for any increases in production costs. If it costs more to print or market your book, consider raising the price to make sure you’re not losing out on any profit.

Tips for pricing your self-published book

  • Monitor your costs and pricing — Keep a close eye on any changes to your profitability and costs, especially if you’re getting books printed. This can help you react to the market more quickly, ensuring your book is always fairly priced.
  • Recognise the value of your book — Don’t undervalue your work (or that of other self-published authors) by pricing your book too low. Using time-sensitive promotions and other marketing strategies can help you sell more without compromising on your price point.
  • Bundle books together — If you have multiple titles to your name, consider offering a discount when readers buy more than one. This works especially well if you’ve written a book series.
  • A/B test different pricing strategies — See how to get the best return from your book by testing out different book pricing strategies. Adjust the cost of your book by up to £1 either way and see how this impacts your sales.

What is book price law?

Book price law is a legal agreement used by certain countries to set a minimum price for any published book. Also known as fixed book price, the driving idea behind this law is to promote lesser-known books to readers by limiting price competition.

While this system was briefly introduced in the UK in the 1990s, it was soon outlawed, so book price law doesn’t affect the pricing of your book in UK markets.

However, if you want to sell your book in France, Germany, or certain other countries, you’ll need to adhere to their fixed book price systems. Read more about this on the International Publishers Association website.

Advice from a published writer
This article is always evolving and being updated regularly by our expert writers. Information featured in it has been fact-checked and verified.
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