My Five Dollar Book

A conversation came up today on Twitter about pricing books for sales on Amazon. The “eternal question” is what price is the right price. Well, lets take a look at a few numbers, shall we?

The Sauder Diaries – By Any Other Name” is ~97.5k words. When I’m in my “zone”, I manage about 750 words an hour. So, that’s 130 hours of time to draft. I estimate that for every 3h of writing I did, there was 0.75h of research that I needed to do. That’s another 32 hours.

Total so far is 162 hours.

Then there were three full sets of edits on this; each being about a 10 hour job. That brings us to 192 hours.

Artwork creation and selection was a painful process that killed another 10 hours. 202 hours total now.

Miscellania and administrivia likely added another 10 hours over the project. 212 hours to completion and that gets the book “for sale” on Amazon and Barnes & Noble. Nothing has been done yet by way of promotion.

Now, the average sales for a new author in North America is 500 copies. So, that means that hopefully I’ll sell 2.35 copies per hour I worked on this.

My book is on AmazonĀ for $4.99. AmazonĀ and my publisher both get a slice off the top. I keep $2.44 per copy. That means I’ll make $5.75 an hour for my effort, if I discount all my social media promotion time.

Minimum wage here in Charlottetown is $9.50 an hour.

So when someone talks about a book the same price as a cup of fancy coffee being too expensive, I say they don’t get it.

If you want to sell a full novel for $0.99, then really what you’re saying is that you want to give it away but can’t accept free for some reason. I don’t have a problem with that, by the way. Its your novel, and you get to decide what your price point is. However, there is plenty of documentation that you can web-search that clearly proves that the $0.99 book won’t make anyone rich… well, except maybe Amazon. Maybe.

I am not going to be buying a Ferrari with what I make on “The Sauder Diaries – By Any Other Name“; not without a freakish level of success. Please understand, I’m not whining. If a trade paperback at my local bookstore is $9, and we agree that half of that is physical production, shipping, handling and sales process costs, then oddly enough the $5 book is about dead on. I’m not a famous author with a legion of fans. I’m just breaking trail, as it were, and I want folks to enjoy what I do. So the price has to be fair for them as well as fair for me.

So, for me, at least, the “five buck book” makes sense. I hope that new authors or ebook shoppers reading this agree with me. I would love to hear your thoughts, either way.