Sunday, January 11, 2009


Tonight I heard some info about, another POD site and competitor of If there's a downer to self-publishing, and something I'm currently struggling with, it's price-setting. My novel is currently listed at $19.95. Having worked in an industry in which I've ordered products wholesale and then marked them up for retail, my price is a standard markup. Lulu's wholesale printing cost for a 300 page book, for example, comes out to about $10 per book. Createspace's printing cost, on the other hand, is considerably cheaper, by more than half. This means I can retail the book for much cheaper than what I am currently listing and still make a profit. However, Createspace takes a bigger cut of the list price (profits, in other words), and if the book is sold on Amazon, for example, then they'll take even more. (And that'll happen no matter which POD I use).

My worry is that my book is priced too high for a paperback. I'm currently reading a paperback copy of Twilight, for example, and although its dimensions are smaller than 6x9, it's a hefty book. It retails for $10.99. But when I looked at comparable books on Lulu, my pricing was pretty consistent, give or take a dollar or two.

I don't want to lose customers to a high price, and I want to be competitive in the marketplace beyond the rhelm of Lulu. On the other hand, I don't want to devalue my work or devalue myself (which I think aspiring authors are suceptible to out of desperation to be published and sell books). If I set my price too low, I'll wind up losing money per sale. And don't forget, this is a business. I am as entitled to make a profit as Lulu and B&N and the rest.

What to do?

For one thing, I'm considering lowering the price to $17.95, $18.95 tops. I don't know if that extra dollar or two makes a difference or not. (My twin brother, who knows the bookselling business very well, thinks it won't, but also thinks it can't hurt in terms of attracting customers.) But, Faking It is likely going to go through one more revision before I distribute to major online booksellers, so I have to make up my mind about price, because once I click Approve, that's it. No more revisions. The revisions are quite minor, to meet ISBN guidelines, and one is a vanity issue -- a potential reader remarked that the font looked a little small, so I'm increasing it by a point (that, of course, will increase page length, which will increase print cost).

If I lower the price, do I refund those that already bought it their two dollars? Do I offer them a discount on my next novel?

I remember looking at Createspace's website over the summer when I was mulling over whether to self-publish. I don't remember why I went w/ Lulu in the end, although I do recall being able to navigate Lulu's site w/ more ease, for starters. That they were a local company, and that I knew people who had worked w/ them was also influential. But, in hindsight, perhaps I could've, should've done more research on both companies? Not that I wanna start shoulding on myself, but...

It's certainly something to think about for the next book. In the meantime, I'd like to hear your book-buying perspective on this. Please share.


Stacey Cochran said...

Too, all of this is a learning experience. With every book I've self-published, I've gotten a little better and a little more realistic. I can very clearly see a transformation in my own books from The Band, to The Kiribati Test, to Amber Page, to The Colorado Sequence. And now with Claws.

There's a balance of things that make for a successful book: 1) interior book formatting, 2) exterior cover design, 3) pricing, 4) review blurbs, 5) press releases. But above all else it's story. How good is the story? Is it one that people read and say, "I have to give this to a friend. I have to tell someone else about this novel."

When you do that, that's when word of mouth starts. And word of mouth is the single biggest thing that contributes to an unknown writer becoming known.

I think it's smart to set realistic goals and expectations. Selling 100 copies of your first self-published book might be a good goal.

For me, selling two dozen copies was my goal for my first book. With Amber Page my goal was 100. With The Colorado Sequence it was 200.

For Claws, my goal is to sell (or be able to afford giving away through ad money revenue) 300 copies.

Elisa said...

Thanks for your advice, Stacey. All valuable and common sense. See my new promo -- it's going up on the Faking It Fans page on Facebook as well, as well as a drawing to win a signed copy.