Pricing Paperback Novels

As you know, I am still rather new at this publishing thing. I only first published my debut e-book, Twisted, with Amazon and Smashwords for their premium distribution channels, in February. On August 1, 2013 I published my second book, Twist & Turn, and I found the formatting process to be so much easier than the first time around, which brings me to now. I’m ready to put my stories in print. I have successfully formatted my print edition and commissioned a cover. Here’s my new cover, by the way. 😉 It’s in review with CreateSpace as we speak. So, I ask you this, both as an author and/or reader. How much is too much? 

Twisted by Christa Simpson. Book 1 in The Twisted Trilogy. A sassy New Adult romance with a paranormal twist.

I specifically went the affordable route when publishing my first e-book. $0.99 was the price point and the release went magically well, with no pre-release parties, cover reveals or giveaways. What can I say? I was new. But the sheer volume of sales still blows my mind to this day. I have yet to see a day where I don’t sell an e-copy of that book. I continue to watch my book fall on and off the best-sellers lists from day to day. Most months my US sales are by the far the leader, but my UK readers give them a run for their money at other times.

After some careful consideration and hair pulling I decided to value my next piece at $2.99. I am still satisfied with that decision. My book is still ranked in the top 100 in two sub-genres which makes me very happy. 😀 Though the sales are not near the numbers I was pulling in with book one at the lower price point, I will certainly see more income following this route and I find that the readers are actually reading the story, rather than just buying it on a whim and letting it sit in their Kindle for ages.

Twist & Turn by Christa Simpson.  Book 2 in The Twisted Trilogy. A sexy romance with a love triangle and a paranormal twist.

Getting to the point of this post, now that I’ve efficiently rambled on beyond the point of retaining your attention, I wonder how you as an author or reader decide to purchase a paperback novel online.  Personally I have never purchased a physical book online, as I visit the local Indigo or Chapters when I feel the need to hold a book in my hands.  I love walking into a bookstore by the way and I wouldn’t exchange that for the world.  Anyways, for those of you who do buy or sell books online, I wonder how important price is.

First, I see how much I am being charged for a single print copy of my book with CreateSpace. Add in shipping charges from the U.S. to Canada for a bulk order and it’s just barely worth printing my books at all.

My first book is 238 pages long. I have arranged for it to be distributed in 6×9 format. How much would you be willing to pay for a comparable book these days?
How much does it cost to mail a single book from the U.S. to Canada? Will my Canadian readers be raped at Customs? I’m an indie author after all, so I want to consider what the actual cost will be for my readers when all is said and done, so I can price my book accordingly. I think I might just have to break down and order a book myself to see how this works. 😉

Any info you can provide is greatly appreciated. If you are an author who has joined CreateSpace’s expanded distribution, I’d love to hear your experiences from being involved in that. Thanks so much!!

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19 comments

  1. I’m curious to your question and hoping someone with more experience will give you a comment worth wild so we both have this insight. I’m working on my 1st book and plan to go the e-book route and self publish – my thoughts for the $0.99. Although a few friends think print should be an option, but I’m unsure of that direction.

    As an avid reader, it depends on the author and my commitment of the story/series of what I will spend for a ‘print’ book these days. It’s tough when it’s cheaper in e-format and my husband harking over the loss of bookshelf space & actual storage. Typically my price range is $6-15 USD, although I’ve been known to balk at some publishers and pay anyway if I really wanted it! 🙂

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    1. Thank you for your input, Cassie. I’ve had an overwhelming amount of people ask for my book in print and that is why I’ve decided to offer it in that format. I’d also like to have some paperbacks for distribution locally. I’m considering putting my price at $9.99 but I’m worried that it’s too expensive once you add in the cost of delivery. I have to look into that more. 🙂

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  2. Converting from GBP Into dollars, I would usually pay up to about 6 or 7 dollars for a paperback from an untried author, without recommendations. In the UK, a ‘full price’ PB is usually about 13 dollars, although you are rarely charged that if purchasing online, there’s usually a discount. I do purchase some PBs online, as I share certain books with my mum, and she hasn’t embraced the digital age!

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    1. Thanks so much for sharing, Karen. 🙂 It’s nice to hear from someone in the UK. I have a lot of Kindle sales there and am hopeful that it will translate into a few paperback sales. Fingers crossed. I’m thinking of lowering the price, after reading your comment,to get new readers. Thanks!!:)

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      1. That’s just my personal take on it, of course, although I’m also going by the way sellers price their books. The book has been devalued in the UK over the last few years due to aggressive discounting. And it has affected the way I think about pricing, though I should know better!

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  3. Have you thought about offering twisted free for a few days in amazon. It might get it into the top 100 free books and then they could get hooked into buying the second one. I check that list daily and have found several new series/authors by getting the first one free and getting hooked.

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    1. Thanks for the suggestion, Brandi. I’ve considered it, but it seems to me, from what I hear from other authors, that the majority of people accepting the free book either don’t plan to pay for any books or that the free copy will just sit on their Kindle indefinitely. I will likely use it in the future, when sales start to fail, to renew interest in the series, but right now I am happy with my sales and I’ve made it into the top 100 on many occassions, all based on actual paid sales. The contemporary romance category is so loaded that I can’t see a free run being so successful that I maintain my high ranking from a free event, so I don’t think now is the time for that. 🙂 Other authors have found success with offering their books for free and I totally support that decision, but I’m comfortable sitting where I am now. I need to get the rest of this trilogy out first!!

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  4. Once you input all of your book info into CreateSpace, it will actually give you a mandatory minimum price to charge your book. Depending on what price it spits out, you may want to round up a bit to a nice round number.

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    1. Thanks, Bianca. I can see how much it costs to print one book. I only wonder what kind of mark up is reasonable and how much the reader will have to front for delivery, so I know what the actual cost will be for them in the end.

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      1. I just went through the process with my first book and I rounded up from the price CreateSpace spit out (it was something random like $7.62) to $9.99. We’ll see how it goes! 🙂

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    1. When you buy books on line some sites have a minimum order price(Chapters/ Indigo is 25.00) for free shipping if you are willing to wait 3-9 days for delivery or they have free in store pick up(meaning they will ship to the closest store for you for free). I do the 3-9 days & it usually is earlier than the 9 days. Also you will find if you are a member of the site that they will send out emails giving you free shipping with no minimum purchase once in a while.

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  5. Thank you for this timely blog! I’ll release my first self published novel, The Naomi Chronicles, Book One, Beginning Anew in November so pricing for the paperback and Kindle has been on my mind. Since what you and the others wrote confirmed my thoughts, I’m now following your blog.

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  6. Christa, I would price the paperback at a price that would give you the SAME royalty as the ebook version.

    So for 2.99 for an ebook you’d get 70% which is about $2.

    So I would price the ebook at $2 or less for the paperback.

    That way, it’s a fair price for both the reader and you get the same royalty no matter what format the buys it in.

    As for a paperback in general, I don’t pay any more than $12-15 for a newly released book.

    🙂

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  7. Just fixing a typo:

    So I would price the paperback at $2 or less on top of the cost of printing it.

    SO if it works out to be like $7 per copy, I would sell it for $9.

    Hope that makes sense, mathematics was never my strong point lol 🙂

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