There is no doubt that the creation of ebooks helped make self-publishing a viable business for authors. Ebooks are relatively cheap to produce and easier to distribute online. But what about print books? Is it possible to create a print version of your novel and still turn a profit? We explore that question and more in this article, as we look at book format and pricing strategies for self-publishers.
Book formats: the basics you need to know
As you’re no doubt aware, there are two different formats in which books are commonly released these days. The first is the good old-fashioned print book. Print books come in either hardcover or, more commonly, the cost effective softcover version. The second format is the ebook, which is a digital version of your novel that can be downloaded from online stores like Amazon and read on tablet devices such as the Kindle or Apple iPad.
Once you’ve completed your manuscript, you will need to produce different versions of your novel to suit your market strategy. For print books, your manuscript (and cover) will need to be typeset to particular specifications that will be accepted by a printer. Ebooks, meanwhile, will need to be converted to a digital format that will be accepted by the online stores you plan to use. Each store has its own technical requirements that you will need to meet before your novel will be accepted.
So, in which format(s) should your novel be released?
- Ebook: This is a no-brainer! You must have your book available as an ebook if you want to gain any sort of traction in the market. At Author Secret, we convert our clients’ books to the ePub format, which is accepted on Amazon (where they convert it to their own proprietary format) and all other online stores. Learn more about the ins and outs of ebook publishing here.
- Print: Yes, you do need a print version of your book! It is so easy to release a print version alongside your ebook using on-demand printers, such as Amazon’s Createspace or Ingram Spark. Read more about why we think every self-publishing author needs a print version of their book here.
Pricing your book
If you have written a full-length novel (around 60 000 words or longer), don’t price all of your books at 99c! Generally speaking, novel ebooks priced between $2.99 and $5.99 work well, so we suggest that you stick to a price within this band. This price point will allow you to offer some great discounts to attract new readers in the future, too.
The exception to this rule is for the first book of a series. Consider making this 99c or even free (known as “perma-free” on Amazon) to entice readers to give your novel a chance. Once they’re hooked, you can upsell them on your subsequent books.
Print books should be priced differently to factor in the costs of printing and shipping. Print-on-demand websites have royalty calculators which you can use to work all of this out. Generally, print books by new authors sell well at around $12.99 to $15.99.
Don’t undervalue your work, but don’t overvalue it either. Do your homework and take a look at what price-point other self-publishing authors are selling their books. Keep an eye on your own sales and general pricing trends in the market, and adjust your price-point as necessary.
Book format and pricing strategies for self-publishers: the advice we give our clients
As a bonus, we want to share some of the strategies we advise our clients to use.
- Price your ebook at $4.99 to begin with, so that you can discount your book later.
- If your book is part of a series, price your first book at 99c permanently once you release your other books. Then price these subsequent books at around $4.99. This way, readers can try your first book at a low cost, get hooked on the story and want to buy the rest of the books in the series at the higher price-point.
- Release your book in print and as an ebook simultaneously – seriously, you won’t be sorry!
We hope that you’ve found this guide to book format and pricing strategies for self-publishers useful! Which formats and price-points have you found successful? We’d love to hear from you in the comment section below!