Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Don't Sell Yourself Short.

Price your book fairly: Most new authors instinctively charge too little for their book. Why? Several reasons come to mind.
  • Competing with bookstores: New authors automatically compare their book to what's in the bookstores. This is understandable, but it's a bad idea. The books in the bookstores are published mainly by the major New York publishers and niche publishers big enough to work the bookstores. Their press runs, and therefore their costs per book, are much lower than yours. You're not in that league. Don't pretend you are. If you do, you'll lose.
  • Bad math: Some authors--more than I would like to think about--don't seem to know that if your book costs $6.00 to print and you set a retail price of $8.95 (because your book compares to one in a bookstore), you can't give bookstores a 40% discount and make money.
  • Chasing volume: New authors seem to think that reducing the price will sell more books. Maybe, but maybe not (surprisingly.) If you put a low value on your book, your prospective customer will as well and may not bother. For argument's sake, let's say this is true. Is it worth losing money to sell more books (see "Bad Math")? Is the customers who buys your book at $8.95 as valuable as the customer who buys your book at $19.95. (The answer is "no." The customer who buys your book at $19.95 is more committed and more likely, for example, to attend a workshop of buy your next book)
  • Low book-esteem: New authors tend not to put a high enough value on their books. If your instinct is to charge $8.95, that tells you're potential reader that you think the book is not worth $19.95. If you stick with $8.95, they'll believe you.
  • Failure of nerve: Finally, authors may want to charge more, but they are just afraid. I get it. There is a psychological barrier to overcome. However, I suggest you overcome the barrier before--not after--you write the book.
Before you publish--or even write--your book, plan it out. Decide on its trim size, number of pages, binding, and color requirements. Know how much it will cost to prepare and print. Then decide on the price. If you are going to a Print-on-Demand outfit like Lightning Source, figure to charge at least five times the unit cost for one book. If a book will cost you $4.00, be prepared to charge at least $20.00. If you aren't comfortable doing that, don't do the book--or be prepared to explain to yourself why it's worth doing even though you will lose money.--The Publishing Pro.