How We Price Your Book For Sale

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In this section:

    How much will my book cost?

    We regularly review our pricing to ensure we are market competitive whilst also covering printing and production costs. The majority of our books are priced between £12.99 - £16.99 and $19.95 and $26.95. Our average word count per printed page is 320.

    Why do your books cost slightly more than mass-market titles?

    • We give better discounts to authors than most publishers (50–70% rather than 10–30%).
    • We send out more review copies than most.
    • We invest more in marketing systems than most.
    • We publish more new titles than most (highly expensive compared to reprinting already-strong authors).

    Help! My Amazon price is completely different to the RRP

    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.


    • You may see your book offered above the RRP.
    • You may see your book aggressively discounted, maybe even at a lower price than the retailer buys from us.

    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.

    Retailer pricing does NOT affect your royalties per book sold

    Whatever price the retailer sells your book at, the price they pay us stays the same.

    Why our pricing is competitive

    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).

    We are working on models that will bring prices down and still generate income

    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.

    It is not easy to fix a "standard" price for a book

    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.

    Why we round prices up to £*.99 and $*95

    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.

    Can I buy my print books on a cost-plus basis?

    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.

    The price on your cover

    We only show your USA and UK price. The distributors do not want us to show other currencies. We cannot change the price on the cover after the publication date has been set and the information sent out to the trade.

    I think you’ve got my price wrong. Can I change it?

    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.

    How long does it take for a price-change to take effect?

    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.

    Why we don’t like stickering a price change

    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).

    Can I change my ebook price?

    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.

    The merits and otherwise of low ebook pricing

    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.

    Does price matter?

    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.

    How much will my book cost in other currencies?

    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.

    • Canada: In general we keep Canadian prices the same as the USA, as the exchange rate between the Canadian and US dollar is nearly equal.
    • Australia: In Australia, book prices are higher than in the USA/UK. This is partly because salaries are higher, partly because of Australian VAT (GST), partly because of parallel import restrictions imposed by the government to protect Australian publishers, and partly because of the distances involved. We do not get any benefit from the higher prices – we supply to the distributor, Brumby, at the usual discount off the UK retail price. In 2011, Brumby are marking up the UK retail price by £2.40 to get to the AUS $ price. (Note: since taken over by Sunstate, 2012, slight changes here – it's now the US $ RRP x approx 1.5. This normally covers GST, freight and handling.) The cheapest way to buy our books in Australia is online, through The Book Depository, which is usually 25–40% less than buying through bricks-and-mortar retail. We recommend them. On books we ship to Australia, we lose money.
    • South Africa: In South Africa, as a rule of thumb, the SA retail price of books is UK RRP x exchange rate (in Autumn 2011 £1=R12), plus shipping/handling etc. (about 12%), plus VAT (14%). Bookshops sometimes add a very small mark-up of about R5.


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