How to Choose the Right Price for Your Book, Part 3

How to Choose the Right Price for Your Book, Part 3

It’s time for more ideas for pricing your self-published book! In this third part in the series, I want to show you how to look at your market to find data that will help you choose a good price. This process can be a little bit time-consuming, but it’s very much worth the effort.

Look at Similar Books

When you’re bringing your book to market, it’s important to consider the expectations of the market based on existing books for sale. It’s highly unlikely that your book is something in a completely new category, which is to your advantage. Let’s look at how you can gather data from books similar to yours to help you decide how to price your own book.

Check books in your category

You probably already know what genre your book is in, so jot that down. Then write down a few keywords that fit your book. For example, you might have a book that fits in the fantasy and mystery genres, and your keywords could be fairiesurban, and supernatural.

First, check on the genres. Go to the Kindle store or the Amazon book store and select each of your genres from the category sidebar. (You may have to choose a top-level category and drill down from there to get the one you want.) You should see a list of popular books in the category. Open up tabs for some of those.

You’ll also want to check each genre’s Top 100 list in the Kindle store. Again, pick the genre in the sidebar. The Top 100 list will give you the 100 best-selling books right now. Just like before, open up tabs for several of these. I’d recommend at least the top ten if not the top twenty.

Now run a search in Amazon’s Kindle store for each of the keywords you chose. If the books that come up seem to be similar to yours, go ahead and open tabs for those as well.

Gather the data

Now it’s time to gather some data. For each book you’ve clicked on, write down the following:

  • Kindle selling price
  • Paperback selling price
  • List price for the paperback (this the price that’s crossed out)
  • Page count
  • Number of reviews
  • Overall rating from reviews

You can use the page count and review data to help you find books that are closest to yours. You don’t want to price your 150-page novella with five reviews like a best-selling 400-page novel with 500 reviews. Find books that have similar page counts to compare selling prices. You might even want to find the average price of similar books.

This research can also help you determine where to put your printed book price. The paperback selling price will tell you how much Amazon has discounted this book, while the list price will let you know what the retail price set by the publisher actually is. Look at the list price; it’s the most useful to determining a good printed book price. Remember, Amazon likes to discount things, so give them room to mark your price down!

Pricing Research

Another tool that can help you choose a good price is research into what readers think is a fair price. Here are four ways to gather that information.

Read some articles

The internet is full of articles about the optimal e-book price and what readers will pay. Two of my favorites are from The Fussy Librarian blog. Keep in mind that this is an e-book deal site, so the data may be skewed toward lower prices, but both posts draw from a large sample size, making them decently accurate and worth a read. The first post asks what readers think is a fair price for a novel, and the second asks about shorter books.

Ask your friends or test readers

I almost put “ask your friends and fans” but this is one question that you probably don’t want to ask on your author Facebook page! This is something to ask those close to you and those who have read your book as you’ve worked on it. Find out what these people think is a fair price. When evaluating the responses, remember that your friends and test readers are probably on your side and want you to be rewarded for your efforts—they may suggest a higher price because they believe you deserve it.

Think about how much you might pay for a similar book

Ask yourself what you would pay if your favorite author put out a book the size of yours. This isn’t a foolproof method, since your favorite author is probably quite a bit more famous than you. You may or may not need to price lower to break into the market, but this exercise gives you an idea of the maximum price you could charge. Even if you ultimately decide it’s too much for right now, file this price away to use later when you have throngs of fans who want your autograph.

Use the KDP Pricing Support tool

Finally, you can use Amazon’s Kindle pricing tool. Go to the Edit Rights, Royalty and Pricing section of your book’s details and click the big View Service button under the KDP Pricing Support header. This will bring up a very neat tool that examines similar books on the Kindle store to come up with a price that maximizes the number of books sold and your earnings. Certainly, this tool can’t say for sure how many books you’ll sell, but it’s worth a look to check out the data. It’s also worth noting that the graph changes as the Kindle store data changes, so you might want to make a note to check the tool every few months or so.

Consider the message your price sends

Now that we’ve looked at pricing from an earnings standpoint and from an audience expectations angle, let’s come at this another way. What does your price say about you, the author? What messages are you sending with the way you price your book?

Does a low price mean cheap content?

If your book is a substantial size, such as a full-length novel, you could be sending a message about its value if you price too low. Your potential readers might think you’re saying the book isn’t worth much, or that the quality doesn’t merit a higher price. This is where your research into how books like yours are priced can pay off. Give yourself a reality check. Don’t sell yourself short.

High price can set high expectations

On the other hand, a high price can raise the bar of expectations for your book. Check through reviews of similar books that charge a premium price. If you see a lot of reviewers mentioning how much the book cost, take note. That may indicate that your market is influenced by the price, and may be more willing to leave a negative review if your book doesn’t live up to very high expectations. You might be able to manage those expectations a little bit with your price.

Low price can be perceived as a bargain

In favor of low pricing is the argument of seeming like a bargain. This is especially true if you have a high printed book price and a low Kindle e-book price. You could make your Kindle copy look like a great deal if it’s more than 50%—or even 75%—off the paperback price. Look at some similar books and see how the Kindle version is priced compared to the paperback copy. And again, check book reviews on similar titles and see how many reviewers mention buying the book while it was on sale or how much of a bargain it was. That might indicate a market that is out to get a deal. You would be wise to consider setting your price accordingly.

High price can be perceived as premium content

Finally, a higher price can give your book the perception of value simply by being expensive. I discovered this when I was experimenting with my book Finding the Core of Your Story. I found that when I priced the Kindle book at $4.99, I actually sold more copies than I did at $3.99 or even $2.99. It wasn’t just the Kindle copy that benefited from this. Sales on my paperback copies rose dramatically when I went from a break-even price of $6.99 to $10.95. This strategy may work better for nonfiction, but it’s worth trying with a fiction title as well.

I hope this series on pricing has been helpful. Coming up, I’m planning to write a case study walking through these ideas with some real book data.

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