Setting your book’s retail price

Setting your book's retail priceWritten with help from Renee and Jack Brodie, publishers.

Determining your book’s retail price can be nerve-wracking. If it’s too expensive, your book may be priced out of the market. If it’s not expensive enough, you won’t even recover your costs. How do other publishers decide? Consider three things: cost per book to print, pre- and post-printing expenses, and the price of similar books in the marketplace.

Your printing cost x 5
One way to calculate your book’s retail price is to take your printing cost per book and multiply it by five. That may seem like a lot, but consider this: if you sell to a distributor, they usually ask for 55% off your retail price and you pay the shipping; and if you sell to a bookstore, they usually get 40% off your retail price and you pay the shipping. You need to have enough left over to cover your pre- and post-printing costs, and then some.

Your pre- and post-printing costs
You are not just paying for printing books. Your pre-printing costs can include editing, proofreading, book design and typesetting, images, indexing, and your ISBN number and bar code. These are all expenses you’ll have paid before your book goes to press.

After your book is printed, you could have any or all of the following expenses: packaging, delivery (gas), postage, advertising, long distance telephone charges, bank charges, website design and maintenance, web hosting, and book marketing. Don’t forget you’ll also be giving away free books to stores and distributors as samples to generate sales, as well as paying for the return of any books damaged in shipping.

Compare prices of similar books
What are books like yours selling for in the marketplace? Your book’s price should be in the same ballpark. If your book is thicker, printed in color, has more images, or is unique in subject, people will pay more for it.

Consider costs—compare prices
Before you decide on a retail price for your book, consider carefully all of the costs to produce your book, and anticipate your future costs as well. Then compare prices of similar books in bookstores, and you’ll be on track to setting the right price for your book.

(Renee Brodie published two full-color books and produced two companion CDs about healing using the vibrations of sound and color. Jack Brodie published a combination autobiography and family history for family members. Together, they have printed, marketed, and shipped around the world over 14,500 books and 3,500 CDs.)