In this section:
We have a pricing model, which we stick to.
The average price of all print books in the USA/UK is $19/£11.
We are slightly above that – most of our books sell for between £10.99 – £14.99.
Our prices for different page extents on print are given below.
It is up to the retailer what price they sell your book for.
We do not have any control over the prices retailers charge for our titles. Nor does any other publisher.
There used to be something called the Net Book Agreement in the UK, which fixed the price at which books could be sold, but that is long gone.
In 2016 Amazon UK started to implement a policy of not displaying the RRP, and have been offering some books at prices £1 or so above RRP. This is their prerogative – we have queried this practice, but Amazon are within their rights.
Whatever price the retailer sells your book at, the price they pays us stays the same.
Our prices on new titles are in-line with similar new titles brought out by the main publishers.
We are not likely to be able to match the average prices of titles you see in your local B&N or Waterstones.
What we cannot do – not at the moment, anyway – is match prices of competing printed books that have already sold tens or hundreds of thousands of copies by established authors and been in print for many years.
These are generally by established authors who have already sold in large quantities, which is why they are being stocked in the first place.
Their print runs are far higher; 95% of new titles are not stocked there. As far as backlist goes, "classics," long-term bestselling books, all tend to have a low return rate. The sales pattern is relatively easy to monitor. They are more frequently ordered.
First-time books are more speculative. With an average returns rate in the trade of 70–90%, first-time book prices are proportionately higher.
Prices in more specialist areas have also increased by 30–40% over the last half-dozen years, so comparing your book with an older book on your shelves may not be accurate.
Effectively, the price has to cover the cost of selling it and sending it two or three times rather than once, as well as the higher origination costs in proportion to sales.
In relation to the table below, we're under the average price on shorter books and above on longer books (also, our ebook price is generally well below the big trade publishers).
There is an inexorable push towards free information on the internet, and free access to at least parts of books, which will eventually push down overall prices, particularly in ebooks. But pushing for lower prices regardless is not necessarily the only or best strategy. Read Seth Godin's blog on the topic.
There are a number of different “expectations” in different parts of the market. For academic books, $20 can seem suspiciously cheap and worthless if everything comparative is at twice that. For the more serious books, sold through specialist bookshops like Watkins in the UK, the average price is in the $24–$35/£12–£18 range. For more popular books, life stories, introductions to a subject, $15 to $20 might be more appropriate.
Ideally, we would like to round all our prices to the nearest $/£, i.e. $18 or £9 rather than $17.95 or £8.99.
It seems insulting to people’s intelligence that £0.01 or $0.05 should make a difference.
But in the UK, the sales reps say that the shops say that £0.01 does make a difference.
In the USA, the sales reps say that the shops say that $0.01 would be insulting, but $0.05 makes a difference.
We’ve created a pricing structure at four different levels, below, which gives us a break-even point (covering direct costs and some overheads, but not marketing, free copies for review etc.) at around 2000 copies sold at the lower price, and around half that at the higher price.
The vast majority of our titles, 90% plus, are at (a), (b) or (c).
Exceptions: Children's fiction is more price-sensitive, and we calculate it differently (different font sizes). Up to 30,000 words = £6.99/$9.95; 30,000 to 65,000 words = £8.99/$13.95; 65,000 to 100,000 words = £10.99/$14.95; over 100,000 words = £11.99/$16.95.
If it is a question of getting a really competitive trade-market price for a book that could sell in quantity through general stores, then we will look at that. But the Proposal needs to be convincing. It is a rare occurrence for a first-time author. It is always possible to reduce the price later if the book looks like it has "legs" for that market.
We are often asked if we can sell books to authors or through the trade on a (print) "cost-plus" basis.
The answer is "no."
The direct costs in a book, design/print etc. are a small fraction of the overall cost.
Most of the cost is in the systems, getting it to market, making it available, discounts to the trade, etc., which does not guarantee results, sales-wise, but it has to be done.
As a general rule prices cannot be changed after the information goes out to distributors, a month after the files are finished.
We do review prices across the board, every year, and particularly if the book has been in print for some years, it may be necessary to change the price to reflect current pricing.
If a price is changed, we are required to give accounts (Borders, Barnes & Noble, Baker & Taylor, Ingram etc.) three weeks to update.
The stock with the old price has to be cleared before stock with the new price can go in, because books are stored by ISBN.
The two editions will be mixed if there is still stock of the old price, which means older books will be invoiced at a price which does not match the price on the book.
So it means the book will be out of stock for around a month.
Finally, when customers search for ebooks in foreign markets, local taxes or surcharges will often be added to the price e.g. Value Added Tax in UK.
If we have to change a price on existing stock, it is possible to do it by stickering the books in the warehouse, but it is disproportionately expensive. It will also lead to some confusion in the trade, because books with the old price on them will still be at various distributors around the country (to a lesser degree, this also applies when we wait till the stock in the warehouse is cleared).
The ebook price we set at publication cannot be changed and will be kept until we review it at 500 copies when the next publicity effort kicks in; if after 18 months your title hasn't sold 500 copies, then you can request an ebook price-drop (which we will consider at our discretion).
We do, occasionally, run special offers where we will offer certain ebooks at lower prices for a month or two to increase visibility. You can request an offer on the Author Forum. Please give us at least two months' notice.
While bringing your ebook out at a lower price does not in itself guarantee any sales, it can mean that people are more likely to buy it on impulse, particularly if there are good reviews. And if they like it, they may recommend it. The counter argument is that readers can see price as a measure of quality, so don’t be tempted to sell yourself cheap. The debate on book pricing rages long and loud amongst bloggers, authors and publishers. Search the internet on “ebook pricing” for the latest views and experiences.
The answer is it must do, and on ebook sales, in fiction, it certainly does – just look at the pricing levels of the top 100 on Amazon Kindle.
But whether a printed book is priced at $16.95 or $19.95, $22.95 or $24.95 seems to make no difference to sales, so far as we can tell.
We do track prices of similar new books coming out, particularly through our own distributors, who are very aware of different lists that they’re selling, and stay in line with them.
We have US dollar and pound sterling prices on the back cover and on the website. We cannot give you an exact answer on the price in other currencies. They’re generally fixed at short notice by different distributors based on current exchange rates, and you will need to contact them. We aim for rough parity in our pricing across different currencies, but it varies a lot by country.
Page extent/price (our average word count per printed page is 320).
|Page extent||(a) Fiction||(b) MBS||(c) Zer0 and non-fiction||(d) Academic|
|56-96||$9.95 / £5.99||$10.95 / £6.99||$11.95 / £7.99||$25.95 / £16.99|
|97-127||$10.95 / £6.99||$12.95 / £7.99||$14.95 / £9.99||$28.95 / £17.99|
|128-159||$12.95 / £7.99||$13.95 / £8.99||$14.95 / £10.99||$30.95 / £18.99|
|160-207||$13.95 / £8.99||$16.95 / £10.99||$17.95 / £11.99||$35.95 / £20.99|
|208-255||$15.95 / £10.99||$18.95 / £11.99||$20.95 / £13.99||$40.95 / £23.99|
|256-303||$16.95 / £11.99||$20.95 / £13.99||$22.95 / £15.99||$45.95 / £26.99|
|304-351||$18.95 / £12.99||$22.95 / £14.99||$24.95 / £16.99||$55.95 / £34.99|
|352-399||$19.95 / £13.99||$24.95 / £15.99||$26.95 / £17.99||$65.95 / £41.99|
|400-447||$21.95 / £14.99||$27.95 / £17.99||$29.95 / £19.99||$75.95 / £46.99|
|448-511||$24.95 / £16.99||$29.95 / £19.99||$31.95 / £21.99||$85.95 / £53.99|
|512-543||$27.95 / £18.99||$31.95 / £22.99||$34.95 / £24.99||$95.95 / £59.99|
|544-591||$30.95 / £20.99||$34.95 / £24.99||$39.95 / £26.99||$105.95 / £65.99|
|592-639||$33.95 / £22.99||$36.95 / £26.99||$44.95 / £28.99||$115.95 / £70.99|
|640-687||$35.95 / £23.99||$38.95 / £27.99||$46.95 / £30.99||$125.95 / £77.99|
|688-735||$37.95 / £24.99||$39.95 / £30.99||$47.95 / £32.99||$135.95 / £84.99|
|736-783||$39.95 / £25.99||$41.95 / £32.99||$47.95 / £34.99||$150.95 / £92.99|
|784-831||$42.95 / £27.99||$43.95 / £34.99||$49.95 / £36.99||$165.95 / £102.99|
|832-879||$44.95 / £29.99||$45.95 / £36.99||$53.95 / £38.99||$180.95 / £111.99|
|880-943||$47.95 / £31.99||$47.95 / £38.99||$55.95 / £40.99||$193.95 / £119.99|