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The Perils of Pricing a Book: Pricing Tips for Maximum Profits

Have you dreamed about writing a book? Getting your book into the marketplace has just become easier than it ever has been in the history of writing. For the first time ever, you can pen your prose and publish to the world at large in about as much time as it takes to bake a cake (Okay, maybe a little longer).

The Expert is in 1200x1200

Gone are the days of traditional publishing: writing your book proposal, shopping for an agent, pushing your manuscript to 47 publishing houses, signing away your copyright (and the bulk of your revenue), hiring a publicist, and running the grueling circuit of a PR tour – all for the glory of being a “published author.” There’s no more need for a middle man when it comes to publishing your cherished work.

Or is there?

Let’s say you are indeed an author. You’ve just finished writing your book. It took you a year to finally get your best ideas into manuscript form, scribbling into the wee hours while your friends are out doing… well, whatever normal people do on a Saturday night.

Finally the last comma is in place, and your weekly writers group has given your book the coveted Seal of Peer Approval. In fact your work is so polished, you’re bored with it. But you’re excited to get it in front of millions of readers, who of course will become millions of raving fans just as soon as you can figure out how to actually get your book out there.

What’s the first thing you do? Well, if you’re like most first-time authors, you give your book a title, grab some swell stock imagery, throw a dart at a price-tag, and upload your book to Kindle Direct Publishing. And then you wait. And wait. And wait some more, wondering why your royalty statement is producing big goose eggs. So when will your sales reports hatch into real, hard numbers?

Welcome to the plight of the vast majority of authors.

It’s only during the fourth week after you pushed the GO button that you realize your book’s title has a typo in it, or you’ve misplaced a period in the “Ph.D.” after your name (these are real stories from real self-published authors). You also start to wonder if pricing your book at $99 dollars instead of 99 cents was a good idea. Many people read “Self Publishing for Dummies” and then start to wonder what went wrong after they hit the big green “Publish” button.

Tapping the Price Experts

Do you know the perfect pricing formula for a book? How do you find the perfect price point for your book? How is the physical book pricing related to ebook pricing? Most authors are in love with their work and want to price it confidently. They grab a number from one of their favorite books and throw it at the wall to see if it sticks. Such an approach makes for a tangled mess. It’s not long before we’re back to wondering why we keep seeing zeros on the sales report.

The odds are high that you’re an incredible writer, but not a publishing expert. Did you know that it takes a team of 30 people to get a book onto the shelves of a bookstore? How are you supposed to know what your book should cost? Here are some practical tips to consider when determining your book pricing.

Let me encourage you to price your book confidently. You actually can sell it for a higher price if you have a focused audience. But what authors don’t understand is that if you price your book at a lower price point, counter intuitively it does not create more demand for your book. In fact, often a lower price has the opposite effect. Here are a few book pricing tips to price your book like a publishing pro.

Sell For a Higher Price If…

Your topic is exclusive or about a celebrity

You are a celebrity with a major audience

You are highly credentialed or experienced

You are revealing guarded secrets

Your topic is in high demand

You have an incredible marketing strategy to launch your book

Sell for a Lower Price If….

You are writing a series of books

You are breaking into a marketplace of avid readers, like sci-fi or romance

Amazon is not the only game in town when it comes to book distribution, but they have significant influence over book pricing. Amazon does offer massive sales potential if you play the game intelligently. Therefore it’s worth giving it special attention here.

Publishing with Kindle Select is one way that authors drive traffic to their book title. The program’s main benefit is that your book is free for 5 days, sometimes generating a ton of traffic if promoted correctly. The problem is that you’re required to publish the book exclusively with Kindle Select for 90 days, and the exclusive status is set to auto-renew unless you remember to turn that feature off. After you give away your ebook for free for 5-days, where should you price it after the promotion? $.99? $3.99? $11.99?

One of the little known pieces of research is this: sadly, people who download free ebooks generally don’t read them. Your cherished manuscript just sits on someone’s tablet or phone, collecting digital dust. It languishes between the second volume of the Harry Potter saga and a scanned copy of War & Peace. Unless you’re blessed with uncommon celebrity and awesome cover artwork, don’t give your book away for free unless you have a strategy behind your pricing plan. Your accountant will thank you.

One pricing study from $12 million of ebook sales suggests the optimal ebook price point is $3.99. But is that the optimal price for a 196 page book priced at $17.99? Or is it the perfect ebook pricing for a 450 page hard cover book priced at $29.99? What about a children’s book or an electronic-only cookbook? This is where the guidance of a publisher, a battle scarred author or agent can yield rich dividends for your writing endeavors.

After pricing over 1,500 book derivatives, here are the questions we ask to determine the perfect pricing:

• How famous is the author?

• What is the genre of the book? What is true for a serial sci-fi novel may not be true for a business book.

• Will the book get reviewed by a respectable Reviewer?

• Has the book been submitted for awards?

• What is the page count of the book (or word count of the ebook)?

• What marketing endeavors will support the book launch?

• Will the physical book be sold into retailers?

Book pricing is part art and part science. Since you have invested a year of your late-night Saturday nights pounding the keyboard, spend some time researching the pricing strategy of books in your genre (over time). Don’t you think your book deserves the best possible chance of getting read? When you take the time to understand your marketplace, you can beat the odds and increase your chances for impressive royalties.

Katherine-Owen-ImageKatherine Owen, CEO of GOKO, brings her expertise in the publishing industry and combines it with a powerful team. Katherine owns and operates GOKO Publishing and is part-owner in a traditional publishing company, The GHR Press. Katherine holds a Masters Degree in Marketing and Management from Macquarie University’s Graduate School of Management (MGSM) in Sydney, Australia.

icon1June 9, 2015

I Could NEVER Write a Book!

by Bryan Heathman

Did you know that over 70% of people have written down “writing a book” on their bucket list? As such, I get business executives frequently asking me on planes or at the gym about what is involved in writing a book.

This Is My StoryYears ago, I was one of these people who wanted to write a book but didn’t know how to get started. Now having done written a book (on top of a busy schedule), I share the process of writing with aspiring authors all over the planet.

My advice for aspiring published authors is simple…all it takes is the right kind of preparation. In other words, you have to prepare to succeed.

But many people in my sphere of influence don’t just want to write a book – they want to write a best selling book. In fact, they come to me on their quest to get famous as a result of writing a book.

So the question remains, even though the marketplace is swamped with books, can you become a best selling author?

The answer is “of course!” But why am I so sure? Because the best seller lists are populated by authors – and somebody’s got to be on those lists. Why couldn’t it be you? The right kind of preparation and the knowledge of where to apply some extra effort can make all the difference between just another book release and a runaway hit – with you holding the reins.

As a publisher, I’ve worked with some of the best-selling authors in the world. Some of them truly are great writers. Ironically, others are merely great marketers. To me, it takes a winning combination of both in order to be truly successful as an author, to have staying power and to reach the top. Like any goal, you need to begin with the end in mind.

If You Fail to Plan, You Plan to Fail

In high school, my wrestling coach had this quote on the wall of our gymnasium: “If You Fail to Plan, You Plan to Fail.” Every day our team would reflect on this philosophy, and we were encouraged to develop a plan to overcome our weaknesses and leverage our strengths. Now many years later, this philosophy has proven to hold true in many pursuits…including building best-selling books.

Writing a book that becomes a best seller is feasible if you start your book project with the proper planning. Following the same niche-vetting process is required for every book, fact or fiction, no matter what your reasons may be for writing your manuscript. Once you determine what to write, preparing the book for your selected niche market becomes part of the writing process.

The first decision to make about your book is the decision to approach it with a sense of professionalism. Decide what your book is about and who it’s for. Understand who your competition is. Decide that you will complete your book and that you will publish it. Give yourself a deadline, and work steadily to meet it. Commit fully. This is the one distinguishing factor that all successful authors have in common – professionalism.

To get started with the proper planning and preparation you’ll need to create a book proposal, no matter which publishing model you choose. Whether you’re going to shop your manuscript to legacy publishers, self-publish it or choose something in between, proper planning is one of the biggest steps you can take on the road to best seller success.

The reason is that your book proposal will help you focus your writing ideas and help you treat your book as a business. The proposal includes a synopsis of your book, an analysis of your market, a comparison of competing books that are already in stores, and your plan for marketing your book.

In my travels with breakaway best-selling authors I often ask about their success stories, then look for common denominators of success. Here are a few of my discoveries – each best-selling author has at least one strength which include elements like:

  • Writing a syndicated newspaper column
  • Regular writer in an industry-specific magazine
  • Being a charismatic salesperson
  • Writing a high traffic blog
  • Large email database (or access to several)
  • Media savvy in radio or TV
  • Speaking within industry associations
  • Having a large social media following, typically on one social media platform (oddly, rarely on multiple social media platforms)

If you are already in the business of writing or speaking, take a look at the sales figures from your previous works and include these numbers in your proposal. Also include the number of speaking engagements you can line-up during the next twelve months, along with any book tours, media appearances, press releases, blog posts, and social media figures and projections. When your details start to take shape, so does the outline of your book.

Crystalizing Your Vision

As part of your preparation, ask yourself the following questions. Include your answers in the pages of your proposal.

  • Why do I want to write about this particular topic? Find your topic and angle. Do you have any story ideas or other compelling points to make? Start with a seed idea then build on it. Even the great works of the ages began with a simple seed that blossomed into rich maturity. Using stories is a great way to create a gripping, readable, authoritative book.

  • What do I want my book to do for me and for others? Determine whether your book will support another part of your business. Decide how you want your book to affect others and what you want them to take away from the experience of reading it.

  • Which specific audience do I want my book to attract? Are you writing fiction for stay-at-home moms looking to spice-up their daily routine? Are you writing Leadership materials for up-and-coming executives under 35 who are striving to build their career success? Know your target audience and get inside their heads.

  • Who else is writing successfully on this topic? What kinds of tactics are they using to gain exposure for their book? Success leaves tracks, so follow in the footprints of other best sellers.

  • Which format is best suited for my book? Should I publish in print, digital ebooks or both? Amazon sells more digital eBooks than print books. Surprisingly however, most authors make more income from their physical books. Having a well-designed physical book will boost your credibility.

  • Who would most likely be a good evangelist for my book? Take a look at the people in your inner circle and your social networks. See who is the most likely to serve as a center of influence for promoting your book, then figure out an incentive for them to talk-up your book.

    It’s well within your reach to become a best-selling author. In fact, in some cases you can be a #1 Amazon Bestseller with a minimal marketing effort, given the right niche. When you break it down and take the right steps to reach your publishing goals, what sounds unwieldy today becomes matter of fact tomorrow.

    The important thing is to get started. You’ll miss 100% of the shots you don’t take – so take a shot. Why not get started sharing your legacy with the world today.

    Katherine-Owen-ImageKatherine Owen, CEO of GOKO, brings her expertise in the publishing industry and combines it with a powerful team. Katherine owns and operates GOKO Publishing and is part-owner in a traditional publishing company, The GHR Press. Katherine holds a Masters Degree in Marketing and Management from Macquarie University’s Graduate School of Management (MGSM) in Sydney, Australia.

    Bryan Edired 1Bryan Heathman is the President of Made for Success. He works with bestselling authors and consultants which have included the late Zig Ziglar, Donald Trump and John C. Maxwell in the role of publisher and marketer. Bryan is the author of Conversion Marketing, a marketing book on converting website visitors into paying customers. Bryan’s Fortune 500 experience includes working for Microsoft, Eastman Kodak and Xerox.

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    icon1June 2, 2015