One of the more intimidating aspects of being a self-published author is tackling the actual business side of publishing. After all, a writer is the talent –– the artisté! Business may not necessarily be a strong suit.

When using a traditional publisher, financial specialists work these details out in-house, leaving you to focus on last-minute editing and building a social media presence.

But when self-publishing, all of the complex financial decisions are the author’s responsibility. Deciding how to price your self-published book is critical to the profitability of the endeavor.

After all, you didn’t write your book as an exercise in charity — you want to make some money in return for all that hard work.

But when faced with all those numbers and percentages, suddenly knowing how to price a book becomes perplexing. Instead of cowering in a corner when faced with this important step in the self-publishing process, why not get familiar with the various factors that will influence the price you ultimately assign to your book?

Here’s How To Price Your Self-Published Book

Unfortunately, there is no one-size-fits-all formula that determines the retail price for a book. Instead, several factors come into play when deciding how to price a book.

It is important to the vitality of the bottom line to consider all of these factors when arriving at the retail list price you set for your self-published book. These factors include:

Production costs

These costs include one-time expenses incurred in the writing process, such as proofreading and editing services, book formatting, book cover design, purchasing an ISBN code, and registering a copyright. For example, a 250-page book would incur some of the following costs:


  • Developmental: $3,500
  • Line editing: $2,500
  • Copy editing: $1,750
  • Proofreading: $750
  • Book formatting: $500
  • Cover design: $1,000
  • ISBN code: $125
  • Copyright: $65

Printing costs

There are several factors that influence the cost of printing a book. The length of the book, the paper selection, the size of the book, ink color, and binding, such as whether it is case bound (hardcover) or perfect bound (paperback), will all factor into the printing costs for a print version of the book. When deciding on the retail price of the book, consider the print costs accordingly to protect your profit margin.

Consider these examples of printing costs:

Binding type Paperback Hardback
Trim size 5.5” x 8.5” 6” x 9”
Interior type B&W Color
Page count 300 250
Print cost $5.31 per unit $16.93 per unit


When pricing your book, it is important to notice how other authors in your genre have priced their books. Charging too little may cheapen your book, making it appear inferior. However, charging too much could cause potential readers to pass you by.

Take the time to research how competitors in your genre are pricing books with comparable page counts. An easy way to accomplish this is to visit your local bookstore and peruse your genre to scope out the pricing, or do some snooping within your genre on Amazon to find the sweet spot.


The platform that you use to sell your book will have a set policy for how much they will pay out in royalties. Keep in mind, royalties are the monies that you collect on each book sale.

Amazon’s KDP motivates eBook authors to set their prices between $2.99 and $9.99, for which they will pay a 70% royalty. Any eBook priced over or under that will earn only 35%. Barnes and Noble’s B&N Press has the exact same eBook royalty structure, whereas Apple iBooks does away with upper limits, paying 70% regardless of the price of your eBook.

Regarding print book royalties, Amazon pays 60%, less print costs; B&N Press pays 55%, less print costs; and LuLu pays 80% less print costs (which skew higher).

How Much Does It Cost To Print a Book?

There are various costs to consider when embarking on the self-publishing journey. This book pricing guide summarizes what authors can expect to spend on both production costs and print costs.

Generally, the costs to produce your book are going to run somewhere in the $2,000 to $4,000 range depending on the editing services you select. This number includes editing, formatting, proofreading, and book cover design. The length of your book will also affect the printing cost. It will cost less to print shorter books in paperback than to print 500-page hardcover books.

The print costs, which are deducted from the retail price of the book, will vary depending on the specifications used to create the book. Use this handy calculator to get an idea of the print costs for your book.

Keep in mind that there are two ways you may choose to distribute your self-published book:

  • Print-on-demand. When print books are sold on Amazon’s KDP, B&N Press, or LuLu platforms, they are printed as they are ordered. This print-on-demand model frees up the author’s working capital since he or she would not need to invest in purchasing bulk inventory.
  • Inventory. Some authors may elect to sell their books on their own author websites or to sell them at live book signing events or conferences. These authors would need to purchase bulk inventory, as well as store the books, and ship them when a sale is made on their website. However, the net proceeds of using this option are higher than the royalties paid via online print-on-demand booksellers.

Average Book Costs in Each Genre

When deciding how to price your book it helps to first do a little detective work. Authors should attempt to price their books according to the average book costs found within their genre. Here is a handy book pricing guide for print books by genre. The average book price will vary based on the type of book.

  • Fiction, romance: $13.95
  • Fiction, science fiction: $12.95
  • Fiction, thriller, mysteries: $12.95
  • Fiction, novels: $14.95
  • Nonfiction, biographies, memoirs: $18.95
  • Nonfiction, self-help: $15.95
  • Nonfiction, coffee table books: $39.95
  • Children’s books: $8.95
  • Cookbooks: $13.95

Curious How Much Your Self-Published Book Should Sell For?

The various print-on-demand platforms will provide a book pricing guide that allows indie authors to input various information. Authors input the prospective retail price and book details, and the printing costs and royalty are then displayed.

At Gatekeeper Press, we provide a handy royalty calculator that can assist you in arriving at the best retail price. Play with some different prices and learn what the estimated Amazon royalties and non-Amazon royalties will be.

For more guidance about how to price your book, consider teaming up with the team at Gatekeeper Press today.

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