Ok, so now I’m going to tell you the dirty secret of how you can figure out how much to charge for your books. I will warn you. This is going to require some math. But I will try to make it as easy as possible.

So, where to begin?

  1. How much does it cost to print your book? 
    Yes, that’s the first step. How much are you going to need to pay in order to have your book printed?  So for the sake of this example, lets just say that you are going to do a run of 1,000 books and it is going to cost you $1,000 to have it printed and shipped to your door. From this, you need to find out how much each individual unit costs you so:
    $1,000 divided by 1000 books = $1 per book.
  2. What about other costs?
    Other costs are everything else that went into creating the book. Mainly paying any writers/artists that don’t have a personal stake in the book or who aren’t going to get a long term percentage of the books earnings. For the sake of this example I am going to estimate another $3 per book for this.So, our math goes as follows
    $1 per book + $3 to pay creators = $4 it cost you per book. 
  3. The Rule of Three
    Now that you know how much each book cost you, it’s time to calculate how much to charge. First and foremost, you know that you want to make back the money that you spent on each book, so what you are going to charge is more that $4. Never dip below this number. If you do, you are taking a loss and that’s just not good business.
    After that, the best rule of thumb is to multiply that number by three.
    $4 per book x 3 = $12 per book cover price.Why do you multiply by 3?
    Because you have still more costs to consider with your book.
    Selling directly to stores – stores will expect a 45-50% cover price discount. So you will be receiving $6 per $12 book you sell.
    Distribution – distributors are usually going to ask between 10% and 60% of the cover price for each book sold. This price may include the price to store the books, advertising, sell them fore you or more. It is up to you to decide if what a distributor is offering is right for you.
    Shipping – Shipping books, especially overseas, to retailers can be costly. Most retailers/distributors will expect the book creator to pay for the shipping, especially if they are purchasing more than three books.
    Advertising/Preview copies – ad space is going to cost money wherever you go. Also, though many places will accept a digital copy of a book many still prefer to hold the physical object in their hands. Not only do you have to pay to ship these promotional copies, but you are also out the $1 you spent in having that book printed.
    Storage costs – where are you going to store your books? Some people can do it in their garage. Others need to rent space, and some distributors will do it for you. Figure out what you are going to do and budget for it.

    Not only that, it is just good business sense to always receive back more per book than you paid for them.
    For the sake of our example, lets say that your distributor will take care of storage as well as distributing your book. For this, they will charge $4 per book they sell. Also, it costs you an average of $2 per book for advertising fees and postage.
    $4 distribution + $2 ads and postage = $6 per book to sell your product.

    What is your profit?
    $12 cover price – $6 cost to sell = $6 profit from selling
    $6 profit from selling – $4 producing the book = $2 net profit per book 

    So, using the rule of three, the sale of a book paid for all expenses for producing, selling, storing, advertising, and distributing the book and you still have made double what your initial cost was to have the book printed.

    Again, this is just an example. Depending on how much your book costs, current market prices per page count, distribution cost etc. your results may vary, but this is a good way to start figuring out what your cover price should be.

Good rules to go by:
1) There is nothing wrong with using print on demand services. They are fast and convenient  Also, you can do small runs this way. However, you will pay for that convenience in a loss of profit. Expect to pay a minimum of double the cost to print with print on demand per book than you would with a large run printer. I suggest not using these services if you wish to send your books to a distributor. You may want to reserve them for convention sales and sales on your personal website.

2) Never charge more than market value for your books unless you have something REALLY special to make it worth your customer’s time. Overcharging to make up the cost from print on demand will result in a loss of sales and revenue. People are not going to pay $50 for a 250 page book when most companies only charge $35.

Single Issue Comic Books: The Ugly Truth:
Yes, I’m going to be stepping on peoples plans here but it must be done. Single issue floppy books are a recipe for failure financially. Most places charge between $2-3 per single issue to print. When you consider that most floppies don’t sell for more than $4, that is NOT a very good return on your investment. Lets do more math:

Lets say that your comics cost $2 each to print, you are selling them for $4, and your table at a convention cost $300
$300 per table divided by $4 cover price = 75 books needed to pay for your table.

That is JUST the cost of the table. That does not count the cost of traveling to the convention, hotel, and shipping the books to the convention… not to mention the cost of having all the books needed to break even printed. So, lets do a rough estimate of this…
$300 table cost + $300 Hotel cost (lets say this is a 3 day show) +$100 travel + $ 20 shipping via USPS =$720 convention cost
$720 convention cost divided by $4 cover price = 180 books needed to print/sell in order to pay for the convention.

Now how many books do you need to sell in order to break even INCLUDING printing costs. Well, for that, you will need to double up  the amount needed to pay for the show. Why? Because each floppy you sell for four dollars technically pays for one other book, since they cost you two dollars each. So, you will need to sell 360 single issue floppy books at one convention in order to break even.

360 single floppy books x $2 each to print = $720 needed to pay print costs .

$720 print cost + $720 to pay for convention costs = $1440 paid out of your pocket before you get to the show. This also means that this is how much money you need to make in during the course of the convention in order to make it all worth it.

Not a good return Not worth it.

I hope this has been helpful.