Aug 182011

At Quill Driver Books we put a lot of thought into the pricing of each title we published.

Here is an abbreviated list of things we considered:

• How big we anticipated the market for the title would be. A small, concentrated market may support a higher price because there are fewer books for those who are in this market to choose from. Large general markets may require a competitive price.

• The buyer demographics: Is this book for poor, starving writers or successful business people?

• How are competing titles priced? The last thing we wanted to do was to compete on price, but we knew the retailers were sensitive to pricing and might not stock a book they felt was overpriced.

• What the demand for the book would be. We felt we could get a couple of extra bucks for a book written by an author with a huge platform. Duh.

• What it cost us to print the book.

With all these factors—and more—to consider, we likely missed the optimum price, that is, the price that would return the largest profit to us. This price is often called the “sweet spot.”

For instance, if we priced a book so we netted $3 on each copy and sold 10,000 copies, we would make $30,000. But, if we priced it with $6 in it for us and sold 40 percent less, or 6,000 copies, we would make $36,000, a 20 percent increase in profit. Of course if the price that returned $6 each cut our sales to 3,000 copies we would make only $18,000.

Until a title sold down and we went back to press on it, we were stuck with the price we set since it was printed on the back cover.

I say, we “likely” missed the optimum price because, how could we ever know unless we published the identical book at different prices in identical parallel universes?

You can see why we gave it so much thought.

Enter E-Books

One grand thing about e-books is, since there is no printing involved, once edited, designed, typeset, and formatted, the cost of an e-book is zero. Another is that the retail price a publisher sets can vary day to day.

But, with these two advantages, what does a publisher need to be concerned about when pricing an e-book? Vook, the innovative company that melds books with video, has issued a splendid white paper that goes a long way toward answering this question. I’ll let you in on what it has to say in an upcoming blog.

Clever, Clever

Crown Publishing is rushing out a $.99 e-book on Rick Perry, the latest candidate for the Republican Presidential nomination. The book is actually one chapter from The Victory Lab a fall 2011 release by Sasha Issenberg. According to Crown, Victory will present a broad coverage of electoral strategies and the motivations behind the voting decisions people make and isn’t solely about Perry. This is doubly clever, because the $.99 book will sell on its own and act as an ad for the whole book. Why not consider doing this with a chapter of one of your books? If you’re an author, suggest this to your publisher.

Just a write thought.

  3 Responses to “Book Pricing, Finding the Sweet Spot”

  1. Brilliant marketing strategy by Crown Publishing. I’m sure the campaign team for Perry also approves of this technique.

    I’m already looking forward to your next blog post about ebook pricing – it’s a hot topic in the writing realm.

    Thanks for presenting such valuable information in your blog – I highly recommend it. 🙂

  2. As a writer, I can understand the marketing strategy behind the 99 cent ebook chapter serving as a preview for the larger book, but as a reader, I don’t care for it because once the book is out, odds are I’ll be able to preview the first chapter on Amazon or another retailer (or walk into a Barnes and Noble and thumb through the book) anyways, so unless I’m a big Perry fan, why bother paying 99 cents for something that will eventually be free? In my mind, preview promotions should be free. I don’t pay Coca-Cola 25 cents for a preview of their drink, I just go find a vending machine and by the full product for $1.25.

    Just my two cents.

  3. Oh yes, trick your reader with a bait-and-switch ripoff, and get their money AND their votes…

    No. Give the chapter away FREE, and make sure you call it a chapter, or your butt will be one-starred back to the high school student council, Mr. Perry. You may be a fool, but most readers are not.

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