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Self Publishing - Pricing your book

I produced the skiing book before the advent of Print-on-Demand (PoD). I had to decide on an initial print run. Obviously, the more books I had printed the lower would be the unit cost but a keen price would have been of no use if I couldn’t shift the bulk of the print run. I estimated initial sales at 500 and ordered this amount but I asked the printers to run off 1000 covers, knowing that set-up costs for reprinting covers would be high. In the event I had to order a re-print of 200 volumes.

Since then there has been the publishing revolution of PoD and all such print run anxieties have been banished (even more reason to consider going it alone!). Nowadays a printer can produce any number of copies from one upwards at very short notice. All the data is stored in a computer and running off is more or less as simple as operating your own copier. Some printers will even dispatch books directly to your customer.

There is a further wonder! Following a surprise flurry of interest in my book I asked Anthony Rowe whether they could scan it, thus moving from conventional printing to PoD. They not only could but it seemed to me that the scanned version was of higher quality than the original. Of course I lost the pristine copy which I sent them, because they had to take it apart to do the scanning, but I gained the opportunity to order books at will. I still pay them a small annual fee (around £10) to keep the material on file because, somewhat to my surprise, orders for the book still trickle in, mainly via book wholesalers. All told I have sold close on one thousand copies.

Pricing the book is simply a matter of adding all your costs and dividing by the number of books you expect to sell. It is of course very important to include all the costs which may be some or all of:

  • Research/Writing time (although you may prefer not to cost this but rather aim for a profit on the entire venture)
  • Materials and other costs during the research/writing period (paper, ink etc etc)
  • Editing
  • Copyright (you may have to pay for the use of some quoted material)
  • Libel (if you feel you have to pay a lawyer)
  • Proof reading.
  • Design (of the cover but maybe of other aspects of the book)
  • Typography (if you are unable to produce printer-friendly material yourself)
  • ISBN number
  • Printing and production
  • Advertising
  • Post and package (applicable if you intend to distribute the book yourself. I found that simply changing from a heavy padded envelope to a light, perfectly adequate, one saved very substantially on postage)
  • Retail discount (very important! Most retailers want a substantial cut for handling books – at least 25 to 30 per cent of the retail price)
  • Profit for you!

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