Why My Books Are Priced the Way They Are

For some, when they look at books to buy they take into consideration the price of the book. There's nothing wrong with that. I've put books back before because I felt they were priced too high, although that's usually when I'm looking at tech books that range in $50-$100 a pop. Regardless of whether or not you budget shop for books or buy the books you want without consideration for cost, that is okay. I will never chastise or belittle someone for how they choose to shop (except maybe my kids).

When I started this journey to get my books published, and hopefully sold, the idea of cost became more of a topic of conversation between me and my publisher than had expected. And since the release of my first book, The Ascension Legacy - Book 1: The Shamed Ranger (available in paperback and digital). I have received a variety of emails and phone calls from people telling me that the price of my books are "too high" and that the price is likely impacting my sales by dissuading consumers unfamiliar with me or the series from buying the book due to price alone.

Admittedly, the paperback version of the book is priced at $19.95 and the eBook is priced at $9.95 which are both slightly higher than the average cost of a book. In fact, I have seen other authors who have gone to the extreme end of self-publishing (not using a publisher to do quality control or distribution) have priced their books significantly less than mine books. The disparity between between prices are very likely to influence my overall sales figures.

That said, there is a very deliberate reason why my books are priced at these prices and not something cheaper.

During the publishing process for Book 1, the publisher submitted a version of the book to me that compressed the content of the book into less than 200 pages. To give some comparison, the original submission document I sent to the publisher was formatted to common printing standards and that document was in excess of 500 pages. The first draft from the publisher had shrunk the content after editing had been completed to less than half of the book's original size.

I looked at the format and found it not to my liking. The print was small, the page edges were to the extreme edge, and the line spacing was virtually non-existent. The difference in page counts was all down to an extreme set of formats to the content to squish and squeeze it all into the fewest pages possible.

Upon finding the significantly reduced page count and extreme format changes, I phoned my publishing director to inquire as to why it was so many fewer pages than I had anticipated. His explanation was simple and obvious. The more pages that have to be printed, the higher the cost. Their approach was to reduce the overall cost of printing to reduce the retail price of the book and hopefully with that, increase sales.

Even with that understanding, I was not satisfied. I have relatively good eyesight for someone my age and don't require glasses to read. Despite my eyesight, I found the first format to be difficult to read. I wrote the book and knew the material inside and out but found the small print and crammed lines distracting and unpleasant. Knowing that a number of fans of that genre are around my age, many with poorer eyesight than myself, I assumed that they would be equally or more irritated by the compressed format the publisher had gone with.

After some back and forth with the publisher, it was discovered that with their format the price of the books would be $17.95 for the paperback and $7.95 for the digital book. To me, there is little difference between $17.95 and $19.95 but a huge difference in the readability of the book if the format was relaxed from the initial version to allow for a slightly larger font, a slightly larger space between lines, and a slightly smaller page width. Inevitably, by increasing all of those settings in the format meant that the page count increased and with an increased page count came an increased price.

The price of the book has no bearing on how much I earn per book sold. The price is not part of any greed on my part or some part of a conspiracy between me and the publisher to gouge readers. I would earn the exact same amount if the book was sold with its original format and price compared to what I earn with the current price. It simply comes down to the price it costs to print the book that fundamentally drives the retail price and the more pages a book has, the more it costs to print. The reason my books cost so much to print, and therefore so much to buy, is because I made a conscience decision to include a bigger font for easy reading that prevented the absolute lowest price possible. I chose reader comfort over cost savings.

To me, the $2 cost difference between the 194 page version of the book and the 316 page count of the final version was minimal in terms of cost to the buyer while the difference between the readability of the content was vastly different with the more expensive option being much better and easier to read.

So when other printers/publishers come to me offering ways to decrease the cost of my book, the first thing that I ask is how they plan to achieve that. If they answer anything along the lines of reformatting the content of my book then I stop them there and tell them that I'm not interested. I don't want to make the book hard to read, especially for people who have difficulty reading books with small print or lines stacked on top of one another. I want to make my books accessible and easy to read for as many people as I can. I don't want to maximize sales in an effort to fill my pockets at the expense of the readers. I want people to enjoy the book and want to buy the next one in the series. It is a matter of quality versus quantity and I chose quality for the reader over quantity of sales for me. That may not be the smartest decision from a sales perspective but it is the polite decision for the sake of the readers.

Leave a comment

Please note, comments must be approved before they are published