How to Market a Book: 7 Tips for Strategic Pricing

by | May 2, 2023 | Being in Business as an Author

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Pricing your book can be a daunting task and authors don’t realize how much this factors into how to market a book correctly.

Pricing is the cornerstone of good book marketing.

Yes, you want to make sure that you’re earning enough money to cover your costs and make a profit, but you also don’t want to price your book so high that it turns readers away. That’s where strategic pricing comes in.

By taking the time to research your market, calculate your costs, experiment with pricing, and consider different formats, you can set a price that maximizes your sales potential. Let’s get started.

1. Understanding Your Market

The first step to pricing your book strategically is to understand your market. You need to know who your target audience is and what they’re willing to pay for a book in your genre. A good way to do this is by researching the competition on Amazon. Look at the prices of bestselling books in your genre and see if you can identify any pricing trends.

Different genres will have different pricing structures, meaning, books in different genres will vary widely in pricing. Real estate books, for example, are often priced higher, the same goes for books serving college and university markets. Whereas genre fiction tends to be less pricey than their literary fiction counterparts.

2. Calculating Your Costs

The simple truth is, you need to cover what it costs to print and ship the book. If you’re loading your book onto Amazon (whether it’s print or eBook), Amazon will give you some suggested pricing and this is based on page count, whether the book has images and color interiors, etc.

IngramSpark and others do this as well and that’s the minimum price you need to charge in order to cover your costs. Once you know your break-even point, you can set your price accordingly. And, you should take note of the pricing you just investigated in point one to help you find your sweet spot.

3. Experimenting with Pricing

One of the great things about digital publishing is that it’s easy to experiment with pricing.

You can set up discount price promotions and track their effectiveness. This allows you to see how different price points impact your sales, and then you can potentially make permanent adjustments accordingly. For example, you might find that offering a temporary discount on your book results in a significant bump in sales. Or you might find that lowering your price permanently increases your overall sales. The other element of this is that while this is great for your eBook pricing, you may want to tinker with your print book pricing so long as any discounts don’t impact your cost to print the books.

But pricing experimentation doesn’t have to be related to limited-time discounts only, you could start out with a $15.95 price point for your print book and, if books don’t seem to be moving, do a bit of math and see if you could drop the price by $2.

There’s another experiment you could do that involves creating odd pricing for your book. Meaning, you’re doing something other than $15.95 or $15.99 – maybe you change the pricing to $15.47 – ending with a number that is less common. It’s potentially an effective way to grab a reader’s attention, and what’s interesting about this pricing is that when you look at it, because the mind sees that it’s under fifty cents, so it “appears” much cheaper.

4. Pricing Older Titles or a Series

The fact is that the older a book is, the lower the price should be. This doesn’t mean that you have to make it free, or price it at .99, but if you have written a lot of books, your older titles shouldn’t cost as much as your brand-new books.

Some authors like to make the first book in their series free (once they have released a few titles), the idea being that you want to entice new readers with your first book, hoping they’ll buy every book in your series. If you do this, your first book had better be rock solid or this strategy will never work.

But ideally, you want to price the first book so readers take a chance on starting your series – again so long as you aren’t losing money on the sale of each book, it’s never a bad idea to play around with your series pricing.

5. Pricing for International Markets

With Amazon opening up stores in more and more global markets (they just opened a store for Belgium), you may want to start pushing your book to international markets. Keep in mind that pricing will vary depending on the market you’re going after and eBook markets aren’t as popular in some parts of the world as they are in the US, so start your pricing strategies in overseas markets with a focus on your print books.

6. The $.99 Pricing Strategy

There was a time, not that long ago, when lots and lots of authors (many of them genre fiction) priced their books at .99, which flooded the market with cheap books. Yes, it was a great way to get more eyes to your retail page, but like any strategy, it hit its tipping point. And while .99 books still populate the Amazon store, it’s not the savvy pricing strategy it once was.

First off, we have a lot of digital content on our devices, and if you rode the free eBook wave, downloading all the free titles you could get your hands on, you know what I mean. Readers often download the book and then forget they have it. The book doesn’t get read and, eventually, sinks down the bottom of the digital pile never to be seen again. We pay more attention to things that we have to pay for – so if you’re going to discount your book, consider a $2.99 special or something like that.

It’s cheap enough that they won’t overthink clicking buy, but it’s also just enough to where they’ll be less likely to waste the opportunity and never open it again.

7. Seasonal Pricing

Another pricing strategy is to offer fluctuating prices. You can do this by setting different prices for different times of the year. This could be useful for seasonal books or books that are tied to an event. For example, a book about a winter holiday could be more expensive during the holiday season and cheaper at other times of the year.

If you have a genre fiction book that tends to be a popular vacation read (per your reviews) then consider doing a big pre-summer marketing push with special pricing to get it in more hands.

Pricing your book strategically is an important part of achieving success as an author. Book pricing is a dynamic process. The market is constantly changing. You may find that the price you set for your book today may not be the right price next month.

Pricing is not a one-time decision!

Be willing to experiment with pricing and make adjustments as needed based on sales data and customer feedback.

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