How do you decide what a book is worth? How do you put a value on the time, blood, sweat, and tears that went into your work? It seems impossible.
I’ve been incredibly lucky to work with some amazing publishers and to have the honor of having several books in the world. When the publisher had my books, I never had to worry about how much they cost. I left that up to the publisher to decide. Do I know how they did it? Nope. And I never asked. I figured they knew what they were doing.
I’m sure there’s a whole science behind deciding how to price a book. I’m sure it’s based on what other books in the genre are going for and what readers are willing to pay, in addition to how much it costs to produce.
When it came down to self-publishing my books, I had to figure out how to price them. And trust me, I had no idea what I was doing. Sure, I could have calculated how much I spent for editing and covers and figured out what the best return would be. Thankfully, Amazon has a handy dandy calculator that helps me figure out how much the book costs to produce, so it gives me a base for what I should charge for each book, then it breaks down how much royalty I’ll get for each price. I can make my book as cheap or as expensive as I want.
Of course, the other aspect of this equation—the unknown part—is how many books will actually sell. You can do all the equations in the world to figure out the optimum price for a book, but if nobody buys it, you’re left with nothing.
A few weeks ago, I talked to my grandfather-in-law, who told me about all the people who had bought his book and told him how much they enjoyed it. He told me I needed to charge more for the book so I could make more money. Currently, it’s priced at $8.00. I told him I wanted everyone to be able to have access to it, so I didn’t want to charge an overly large amount. He agreed with that, but he also thought I should be compensated for my time and effort. I agreed with that, but then it goes back to the question of how do you figure out what that is worth?
Royalties are nice. It’s nice to get paid for all the effort that went into writing my books. And I could absolutely charge a lot for them—as much as I wanted. Would readers pay it? Maybe. But when I was pricing my books, I wanted to make them accessible to everyone.
The vast majority of my books are young adult. And if teens are like me when I was younger, I didn’t have a whole lot of money. Often, I had to decide between gas and fun stuff, and gas for the vehicle usually won. Dang me needing to get various places!
When I was figuring out how to price my books, I took into consideration Amazon’s calculation of how much it costs to produce, then I priced it so it was still affordable. Does that hurt my royalties? Probably. But I had to make the decision of what was more important: money or readers. I picked readers.
I honestly can’t tell you how others decide how to price their books; I’ve never asked. However, if there are any authors/publishers out there who would like to share their process, I’d love to hear it.
In the end, I did what I felt was right for me and my books. I know it isn’t what everyone will decide, and that’s totally fine. It’s not easy deciding what a book is worth.