How to determine your book’s price

One of the key factors in determining a product’s success is its cost. Price something too high, and no one will buy it; price it too low, and you lose potential profits. Usually large corporations conduct extensive market research to determine the optimal cost, and book publishers are no different. You’re not a large corporation or book publisher, however, so how do you determine how much to sell your book for?

If that’s not enough, you really have to determine the price for at least three or more products – your paperback, your ebook, and those products sold overseas or on other platforms.

Part of your problem is solved in that all self-publishing companies set a minimum price that you must sell your book for. This price ensures that the cost of printing the book is covered and that the self-publishing company makes a little profit off it. The price usually also builds in a small royalty for you.

If you want to increase your royalty, then you typically can put a higher price tag on the book. But how high is too high?

The best bet is to head to a bookstore or go online to for its paper books and Kindle ebooks and let the mainstream publishers’ market research work for you. Do some comparison “pricing” and see what other books like yours – in page numbers, dimensions (width and height), cover quality (hard or paper), topic matter, photo quality (color or black and white) – are running. Don’t set your book at a higher cost than what’s being sold.

In fact, give serious consideration to undercutting your competition by setting the price at a slightly lower amount. For example, I discovered that paper books similar to my hiking guidebook “Hikes with Tykes” generally cost $14.99 to $16.99. I decided that a dollar less than the lowest priced competing book was a good market strategy and so set the price at $13.99. Since I was new to the field and competing against books with Fodor, National Geographic, and Sierra Club labels on them, the dollar off hopefully is swaying readers to pick up my book instead of competitors’.

With ebooks, there’s often a temptation among authors to give away the book for free. This is fine as a temporary promotion if you have other books for sale. The goal in doing so is to convince readers that you’re a good writer with a good product so that they’ll pay for your other books. To that end, I offer my first “Hikes with Tykes” guidebook for free on the Kindle Lending program, hoping that it’ll drive readers to pick up my other guidebooks in that series. But other than such efforts to build readership, why mark it as free? By doing so, you’re really telling readers that your writing is so bad that it must be given away.


My name is Rob Bignell. I’m an affordable, professional editor who runs Inventing Reality Editing Service, which meets the manuscript needs of writers both new and published. I also offer a variety of self-publishing services. During the past decade, I’ve helped more than 300 novelists and nonfiction authors obtain their publishing dreams at reasonable prices. I’m also the author of the 7 Minutes a Day… writing guidebooks, four nonfiction hiking guidebook series, and the literary novel Windmill. Several of my short stories in the literary and science fiction genres also have been published.