Pricing your book to maximize sales and profit

When you’re an indie publisher, you control much of the process of publishing your book. Last week, the Gettysburg Writers Brigade talked about how to price your book to maximize your sales and profit. Author Gail Furford spoke about her process.

What’s in the price?

The first thing to understand is what goes into the retail price. Here are some ballpark averages (which is why the numbers don’t add up to 100%.

  • Retailers – 40% (big box stores and wholesalers get an even bigger break).
  • Publisher – 20%
  • Production costs – 15%
  • Promotion – 10%
  • Author – 8.5%
  • Agent – 1.5%

You can see there’s a lot of fingers in the pie, and you as the author (and the creator of the work) get one of the least amounts. Even indie publishers still have to consider the retailer cut, production costs (which tend to be higher), and promotion costs.

What do similar books cost?

The next thing to look at is what similar books cost. If you price your book too high, you will negatively impact your sales. If you price it too low, you will sell plenty of books, but you will lose money.

Price method #1

The first way to price a book is to work backward. Start with the retail price your book will sell at. Subtract a 55% wholesale discount and the production costs (including shipping). What you are left with is the amount you will make and the portion you will use for promotion.

Here’s an example:

  •   $25.00   Retail price 
  • – $13.75   Wholesaler discount
  • – $  4.25   Publication cost 
  • – $  2.50   Promotion 
  •   $  4.50   Profit

Now because you are the publisher, you can adjust the price as need be. For instance, I know an author who automatically deducted the wholesale cost from the price she sells her books for at festivals. So she would sell her $25 for $15.

I have found from my own experience that I can offer better deals at festivals. So I sell my books as “Buy 2, Get 1 Free.” Not only does free attract customers but this offer helps maximize sales, and I give a 33% discount and still make more money per book. My mainstream author friends aren’t able to offer that type of discount, and especially not offer it and make more money.

Price method #2

Price method #1 was Gail’s method. I learned pricing differently and simpler (which I’m all for) when I became an indie author. Multiply your production costs by 5 and 8. That is your retail price range. Choose a price that fits in the retail market price for similar books.

I like this method because it is also simple to adjust. If my retail price doesn’t fall within the market range, then I need to find a way to reduce my production costs. This usually means I cut some pages from the layout or chose a larger format layout that requires fewer pages. Either way reduces my production cost and hence, my retail cost.

In this method, I consider production cost not only what it costs to produce the book but what it costs to ship it to me. Some authors just consider what it costs to print the book. You can use either one. My way just makes it harder for me to get my retail price to match up with the market prices.

Also, things like graphic design and editing that I often pay someone to do, I expense as contract labor because it would be difficult to break those cost down to a per unit cost unless I estimate how many copies I will ultimately sell of the book.

Do you have a different way to price your book? If so, let me know. I’ll share it with the group. Next week, I’ll write about pricing e-books.

 

Advertisements
Posted in Articles, Tips & Quotes, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , | 1 Comment

Who do you write like?

Want to have some fun? Forget about answering questions about which movie or TV series characters you are. Try this link below to find out who you write like.

http://iwritelike.com/

Click on the analyzer, copy in sample of your writing and see who write like. The program calls itself a statistical analysis tool that analyzes word choice and writing style and compares your writing to that of other famous writers.

I got Margaret Mitchell, which is appropriate for me, especially given the historical novel that I’m working on now. So who do you write like?

Posted in Articles, Uncategorized | Tagged , | Leave a comment

Considering audiobooks to expand your audience?

audiobooks.jpgLast week, Rosemary Hutchison spoke to the Gettysburg Writers Group about audiobooks. She is an avid listener of audiobooks and researched how indie authors go about producing audiobooks. She and her husband, author Will Hutchison, were considering turning at least one of his novels into an audiobook.

According to the Audio Publishers Association, the audiobook market totaled $2.1 billion in 2016, which was up 18.5 percent from 2015. It was the third consecutive year that the market grew by nearly 20 percent.

Here are seven items that Rosemary came up with when considering e-books.

What type of audiobook do you want to do? The typical audiobook is narrated by a professional reader. You pay for and download the audiobook to your device and you can listen to it at your leisure. The most popular site for this type of book is Audible.com. The other form of an audiobook is a podcast that you stream on the internet. This is generally a free service.

Is it a good idea? Rosemary said one very attractive aspect of audiobooks is that the market is not overcrowded. This means it should be easier to attract readers than it is for print and e-books.

How much does it cost? This could be why there aren’t as many audiobooks as print and e-books. Rosemary estimates that at the low end, it will cost $5,000 to produce an audiobook. While there are royalty sharing options that reduce the upfront expense, the audio engineer cost is a separate fee. Audiobook Creation Exchange (ACX) is a popular site that matches authors with narrators. It will also provide audio engineers for the books.

How to choose a narrator? Some fans of audiobooks look for books narrated by their favorite readers, according to Rosemary. This makes the choice of a narrator very important. Will your narrator need to do accents or both male and female voices? “A truly great narrator is an actor who can make every sentence, regardless of how banal, sound exciting and appealing,” Rosemary said. As you listen to narrators auditions, think about whether you would want to listen to that voice for hours.

What happens after the book is recorded? Having the narrator record your book is like writing the first draft of the book. Then you send it to a sound engineer, who serves as an editor. The engineer polishes the recording to regulate the pacing and volume. The audio engineer charge can range from $500 to $15,000.

How about the cover? If you are making an audiobook of an existing book or e-book, use the cover of that book.

How do you promote an e-book? Your author platform becomes the basis of your marketing efforts. Audiobooks do have some drawbacks. For instance, you can’t do an audiobook signing or sell them at a festival. On the other hand, you can stream clips to websites. Play to the strengths of audiobooks as you market them and be creative.

In the end, Rosemary and her husband chose not to do an audiobook because it seemed that thousands of copies would need to be sold to begin making a profit.

If you’re considering adding audiobooks to your offerings, ask Rosemary’s questions about your book and see if it will be a good fit for you.

Posted in Articles, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

How to get more freelance writing assignments (part 3)

checklist-clipart-response-clipart-clipart-pencil-checklistSo in the past two weeks, I’ve talked about how going the extra mile and developing a relationship with the editor. For this final piece, I’m going to look at how becoming an expert in your field will help you get more assignment.

I’m not talking about getting a degree in every subject you want to write about. You can become an expert by writing extensively about the subject.

This is something that comes with time. As you consistently work with a magazine, your work may tend to fall into a niche. Usually, my niche is history, but I’ve written two stories with Hagerstown Magazine that accidentally turned out to be health stories. I’ve also written health stories from time to time with other magazines. I now have a niche in health writing.

As you start to develop a niche, the editor will begin to recognize you as such. You will become the magazine’s go-to person for that topic. It doesn’t mean you can’t pitch the magazine other stories, it’s just what you’ll become known for. When I first contacted the editor of Allegany Magazine about doing stories for him, he was very excited because he was a fan of my column, so he knew my work and was anxious for me to do local history articles for the magazine.

That’s not to say I only do history articles for the magazines. I’m working on a feature piece now about a local bookseller’s experience running a bookstore in Ireland.

Becoming the go-to person: The benefit of becoming an expert is that when the editor is looking to assign a story in your niche, you’ll be the first person to come to mind. The bad news is that you won’t be the first person to come to mind if it’s not your niche.

Extra benefits of being an expert: Becoming the go-to person for a topic leads to more than just editors contacting you with assignments about your topic. I know a man in Cumberland who collected historic postcards and pictures for years about Western Maryland. Throughout the 1980’s and 1990’s, he published them in numerous books. He is considered the go-to man for local history in Cumberland and he is the first person everyone thinks about when they need a photo, a judge for a contest, a speaker, etc.

Continually improve your writing skills: Another aspect of becoming an expert includes becoming an expert writer. I’ve been writing professionally since 1988 and I still look for ways to improve and expand my skills. Never stop learning.

 

Posted in Articles, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

How to get more freelance writing assignments (Part 2)

adult-2242164_640Last week, I wrote about how to get more freelance assignments by going the extra mile. This week, I want to talk about how to get more assignments by developing a relationship with the editor.

Just to be clear, I’m not talking about becoming buddies so that the editor does his or her friend a favor and gives you work. I’m talking about developing a professional relationship where you work well together to create an excellent finished product.

When you first start working with an editor, you are strangers. You may not have met or even spoken to one another. However, as the saying goes, “The work speaks for itself.” As you submit assignments, the editor begins to trust your ability to meet deadlines and deliver quality work.

Don’t underestimate the value of that trust. Chances are editors work with dozens of different writers and not all of them are professional or dependable. The fact that you are puts you a few steps ahead of them.

What’s the value of this to you? It means your stories will get accepted easier. A borderline idea might be rejected if the editor doesn’t know the writer, but if the editor knows you, he or she may be more willing to take a chance. I’ve had stories assigned to me after just writing a sentence or two to the editor about an idea.

Another nice thing is that once editors know what you can do and how well you do it, they may contact you to write stories. I love when this happens because it means that’s less work I have to do coming up with a story and querying different markets. I just had this happen recently when I ran into an editor I know and she asked me if I was interested in taking on an assignment that she had.

Meeting deadlines

I mention meeting deadlines a lot as a talk about freelance writing. That’s because I have been an editor who has had to wait and see if a new writer is going to deliver a story on time and in what shape it will be.

You may think being a little late is fine because the magazine the article is supposed to appear in is not due out for a couple months, but you have to understand that your deadline is just an early one in a series of deadlines that will allow the magazine to come out on time. There is some wiggle room, but not as much as you might think. Besides, it’s not your call whether it should be given to you or not.

That being said, sometimes you will run into problems. The story doesn’t work out the way you expect, interviewees don’t get back to you, or you might get sick or have an accident. Things happen. If you do run into a problem that will keep you from hitting your deadline, contact your editor as soon as possible and see what can be done.

Editors won’t hold it against you if you have a legitimate excuse. Don’t dawdle and waste your time with the story, though. Most editors will give you at least a month to complete your article. That sounds like a lot of time. You’d be surprised at how quickly it can disappear when you’ve got other things that need to be done.

I’ve gotten into the habit of creating my own mini-deadlines. For instance, when I had four articles due one month, instead of doing each in bits and pieces, I set it up so I could focus and finish one each week.

You might also want to prioritize. If focus most of my efforts on completing the story that is due the soonest while doing a little bit on any other articles that are coming due in the next month. This might be researching, interviewing, or transcribing notes. I do these things bit by bit so that when each story gets the focus of my attention, I’m ready to write.

Next week, I’ll finish up by talking about becoming an expert.

 

Posted in Articles, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

How to get more freelance writing assignments (Part 1)

magazine-806073_640I’ve been doing freelance writing in one form or another for 25 years now. When I started out, I was getting only a few assignments to write articles. Nowadays, I have plenty of work, and the best part is that many times the editor offers me the assignment without me having to send a query letter.

So I thought I would share some tips with you to improve your odds at getting the assignment. Many of these are quite simple, even logical, but I have run into writers over the years who have neglected them and then wonder why their query letters are rejected.

Going the Extra Mile

  1. Reply quickly to any inquiries made by editors. You would like them to do it for you, do it for them. This includes being quick about proofing. The quicker you are in responding, the more time they have to do their thing. I have had more than one editor thank me for doing a quick turnaround on a project.
  2. Be willing to be edited. Your words aren’t gospel. Unless an edit is incorrect, be willing to consider and accept the changes. You are being paid for the work.
  3. Add extra information when appropriate. For example, provide captions for any pictures you submit.
  4. If you are submitting pictures with your article, submit more than needed so the editor had plenty to choose from.
  5. Keep to the assigned word length. I’m not saying that you have to hit the number spot on, but you should stay within 10 percent of the assigned length. If you fall too far short, your story may no longer meet its purpose. For instance, your short feature story, might only be the length of a department piece. If you go too far over the limit, you are creating extra work for the editor who will have to edit the piece down to the proper length.
  6. Produce quality work. Always turn in the best story you can write. Poor work won’t win you more assignments.

By going the extra mile, you make an editor’s job easier. If you’re doing that, when an editor is considering who to assign stories to, you will be topmost in his or her mind as a writer who not only provides good work but also relieves some of the stress of their job.

Next week, I’ll provide some tips for developing a long-term relationship with an editor.

Posted in Articles, Tips & Quotes, Uncategorized | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

Chasing the elusive dream

rr               I’ve written about getting ideas from dreams before. Well, the other morning I woke from a dream around 4 a.m. It was a neat story that as I thought about it loosely tied in with a novel idea that I had started work on years ago. The images were still fresh in my head that I actually got out of bed to start writing it down

Then, even as I was writing, those dream details started getting fuzzier. I managed to get a decent representation of the dream down on paper, but as I looked it over, I realized that it wasn’t the same thing that I had dreamed. Things were missing that I just couldn’t recall, I had filled it in with general statements.

I will go over it again my recollections again and try to create a coherent story line. Then the story will go into my tickler file. By the time I pull it out to write the story, it will have hopefully jelled into a more complete idea.

I don’t know what the final story will be like, but I hope I can capture the excitement that I felt while I was dreaming it.

The morning following that idea dream, I work up again with another idea dream. It was a completely different dream that I anxiously tried to capture on paper. The problem was that try as I might, I could only remember that this dream took place on an island.

So what is it that allows someone to remember one dream and not another? I don’t know if I would want to remember all of my dreams. Most of them probably wouldn’t make sense. I would like to remember the ones that wake me up, though.

Posted in Articles, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment