Pricing Your Self-Published Book As a New Author

Note: These are suggestions based on my experience with my own books and books of authors I’ve worked with. These suggestions are not law or set in stone. In the end, each person must do what is right for them, but I hope these tips can help you decide. 


Pricing your book as a new Self-Published author can tremendously impact your writing career and the momentum of your launch. Price the book too high, and you lose the interest of those who want to take a chance on a new author. Price the book too low, and people start to worry the book isn’t good quality.

So, what to do?

How Well Known Are You

Before I get into it, we must consider there is more than one kind of new author.

Some people may have never written a book before, but they have influence in other areas.

By influence, I mean that these writers have thriving businesses or are already known in their community for their expertise. They might not have published a book, but their success in other areas gives them leverage.

Because they have an impact, they can price their books higher even if they’ve never published a book. For instance, you wouldn’t expect Viola Davis’s first book to be cheap. She’s already a celebrity.

However, in this case, we are speaking of everyday dreamers who always desired to see their words in print. For us, we have to be a bit more strategic.

Now Let’s Get to It

Self-Published Ebooks: Usually less than $5.99. I recommend pricing the ebook low for new authors to encourage more sales and reviews. I would say anywhere between $0.99 – $2.99. 

You can change your ebook price whenever you want, so you have room to experiment with this once the book is live. You might start with 99cents and then increase it later. This is up to you.

You can also set your first book in a series or your debut book price low once you’ve published other books to entice new readers. I am Soul, my award-winning poetry collection, was published in 2017. I have the ebook set to 99cents so new readers can get a taste of my writing style. Usually, this is the first book people read of mine, and they almost always want to read my other books next. This is intentional. 

Self-Published Paperbacks: This is where I see the most problems. You are a new author no one has heard of before (and who no one ever thought was into writing in the first place), and your 50-page self-help book (half of which is blank pages so we can “fill in”) is $50 PLUS shipping.

Make this make sense.

For a new Self-Published author, I recommend pricing your paperback between $9.99, and $19.99, depending on the length. The book’s length is important because longer books cost more to print, so you will have to charge a bit more. Again, this price assumes you aren’t already a celebrity or someone of influence with a massive following, in which case the price will go up.

Either way, just make sure it makes sense.

The most important step you can take is to study other books in your genre to get an idea of how to price your book (considering all we’ve discussed.)

Go to Amazon and look up the category of where your book will be sold. What are the prices of top-selling books?

Do this for Kindle eBook and paperback.

And remember, Google is your friend. Here, we focus on the basics, but I am sure there are many other articles from other sources that can provide deeper insight into this topic.

All I ask is that you do not go into this blindly. The cost of your book is a big deal. Don’t throw darts at the wall and come up with random numbers.


Need more Indie Author Tips?

Check out the IAB archive here.

How Do You Approach Writing Black Historical Fiction?|Ep. 116 | The Merry Writer Podcast

I got to sit with Ari Meghlen and Rachel Poli of The Merry Writer Podcast on writing Black Historical Fiction. Check it out at one of the links below.

EPISODE SHOW NOTES

Have you ever tried writing diverse characters and didn’t know where to start? Or maybe you want to dive deeper into historical fiction? This week, author Yecheilyah Ysrayl joins Rachel in discussing how to approach writing black historical fiction with plenty of tips, advice, and fun conversation. As always, thanks for listening, and let us know your thoughts in the comments below!

Pod Link:

https://pod.link/1504502949

YouTube: 

https://youtu.be/Lmufz1WW5l4

Podbean: 

https://themerrywriterpodcast.podbean.com/e/how-do-you-approach-writing-black-historical-fiction-ep-116-the-merry-writer-podcast/?token=04b9284c45a417396afde887ca5a6fcc

And be sure to check out Rachel and Ari’s blogs below!

Rachel:

http://rachelpoliauthor.com/

Ari:

https://arimeghlen.co.uk/

4 Ways Indie Authors Leave Money on the Table

1. No digital version of your book.

Due to the COVID-19 Pandemic, ebook subscriptions rose, with ebook usage up 26% in 2021. If you don’t have a digital version of your book available in this digital world, you are leaving money on the table. If you publish through a small press or an Indie or Vanity Press and they can’t make sure your book will have a Kindle or ebook companion, they are doing you a disservice.

2. You don’t have a physical copy of your book.

According to the Alliance of Independent Authors, physical books still outsell ebooks. US print book sales rose 18.5% in the first half of 2021 and outsell ebooks 4 to 1. This means that if you don’t have a physical copy of your book to sell through your own website and at events, you are leaving money on the table. Many financially successful authors are not Amazon Best Sellers, but they still make bank selling through their websites. “Though ebooks and audiobooks are increasingly popular, print books continue to trump in the researched book market, with 66% of readers across the globe saying print offers ‘a more fulfilling and unique reading experience.'”

Physical copies also make it possible to sell your books wherever you are. If you like speaking at events and talking with people face to face, you can (should) always have copies of your books on hand. Sell them to libraries, schools, bookstores, or wherever. Heck, sell those bad boys in bulk if you want.

3. Not doing events and speaking engagements.

Speaking engagements and events can generate significant income through paid meetings and on-site book sales. Live events can also help you connect with readers directly, create word-of-mouth from the people who will tell their friends they met you, and don’t cost anything.* If you are not looking into doing events and speaking, you leave money on the table. Again, this is why having physical books is a good thing. See number two.

*Note: I have heard of people paying to do book signings. I never pay to do a book signing unless I pay for a space for vending at a larger event. If you ask to do a signing and the facility says you have to pay, see why and what’s included or look into hosting the signing somewhere else.

4. You are not turning your books into audiobooks.

Speaking of paid speaking engagements, audiobooks can be a way for authors to attract speaking gigs. According to Audio Publishers Association’s annual survey, a six-year trend of double-digit growth in sales continues in the audiobook space. Add to this the increase of smartphone usage (especially with the pandemic), and people who listen to their books at home or in the car on the way to work. This means that if you are not looking at ways to turn your books into audiobooks, you are leaving money on the table. Audiobooks have the potential to reach a wide range of people, from those busybodies who struggle with time to read to people experiencing visual challenges.


We must think outside the realm of just uploading books to Amazon and letting them rot. You worked hard on your book baby. Discover other ways of getting it out there.

Like I always say, it doesn’t matter how long ago it has been since you’ve published; your book will always be new to the people who have never read it. Our books only die if we let them.

Need more Indie Author Tips? Check out the archive of posts here.

Don’t Forget to Write

Even though I didn’t know much when I published my first book, I am glad I took the leap. Without that first, there would not be a fourteenth. My first book was:

  • Self-Published through Lulu
  • Had a generic cover
  • Was not professionally edited
  • Was not professionally formatted

From the Depths of a Woman’s Heart was a poetry book I published in 2010. It was the first book I ever sold, a collection of poems I had written going back to High School and coming up to the present. Although I had missed the mark in many areas, people still bought it. 

I am not saying to publish an unedited book and slap on a generic cover. That would go against everything I’ve ever written in this series. Ya’ll know I don’t play that. I have since retired that book and a few other books and even republished some books because when you know better, you do better.

I am saying that you just have to write the book at some point, even if you don’t know all the answers. From the Depths laid the foundation for me to get used to the Self-Publishing process, analyze what I did wrong, and improve the next time. My first several books were kind of like a practice run for me to learn and grow.

Nine times out of ten, aspiring authors who express interest in Self-Publishing have not written a book yet. And sadly, many of them spend a lot of time figuring out if Self-Publishing is for them. While there is nothing wrong with this, it can get in the way of writing a book to publish.  

After having written the book, you might even decide that Self-Publishing is not for you, and that’s okay. 


It’s easy to get sucked up in the never-ending sinkhole that is Self-Publishing advice. Everyone has an opinion about how it should be done, and everybody and they mama is an expert.

No wonder writers are confused and overwhelmed with the process.

Let me simplify it for you: 

Start by writing the book.

Before you pull your hair out over how to get your story into the hands of readers, make sure you actually have a story for them to read.

Once you have a completed manuscript, you will better understand the information you need. You can ignore what does not apply and focus on what does. 

Having something written helps you be selective in who you listen to and intentional about the direction you want to go. 

Don’t be so busy researching how to start that you forget that the biggest lessons come from action.

How do you get started with Self-Publishing?

First, write the book.


Need more Indie Author Tips? Check out the archive of posts here.

Writing Self-Care for Indie Authors Part I

As an Indie Author, I understand the pressure of writing and publishing books. Here are some tips to help you stay calm during the storm. I planned on giving several tips at a time. However, our first took up most of the space, so I have to break this down into two parts.

Get Out of Your Immediate Environment

This past weekend was my first time out of the house in a long time. Part of this cabin fever was that I could not go out due to doctor’s orders. I have not publicly spoken about the details yet, but I had an emergency surgery to treat an ectopic pregnancy in February. I won’t go into detail because I have an entire blog series coming about it. I will say that the physical recovery was long, and I found myself getting depressed.

Even after my stitches healed, I knew I was still a mess emotionally. I told my husband I needed to get out of the house. I didn’t care where we went, and it didn’t have to be anywhere far, but I needed to go. And if he didn’t want to go, I was going by myself.

I was being dramatic, but I was also serious.

This was totally my idea. I saw some kids doing it and thought, why not? Lol

We decided to visit Florida (the parts that aren’t too far away from us, like Jackson and St. Augustine). We just packed up and left, and I feel highly refreshed having taken that trip. We took a boat cruise, inhaled the fresh air, walked up 219 stairs of the Lighthouse, went out to dinner, drank wine, and acted like two High School kids with no curfew. This unplanned trip turned into one of our best romantic getaways.

But you do not have to visit another city.

Getting out of your environment can also mean changing where you write. I am notorious for going to the library and Barnes and Noble on a whim. When I get tired of my home office, I go somewhere else to work. I will even go sit at the kitchen table. Even something as simple as that can spark creativity.

Changing where you write is a healthy way of boosting your creative morale when you feel low, and this is not just my opinion.

“A walk in the fresh air and sunshine will release those beautiful endorphins, which boost happiness, and studies have shown that moving your body can even alleviate symptoms of depression. What’s more, physical activity outdoors and “exposure to nature” are known to have positive effects on your mental health.” 

– Katy Cowan

Ernest Hemingway drew inspiration for much of his work from his time in Spain and France. 

Aldous Huxley, the author of Brave New World, moved from the U.K. to the U.S. in his 40s to branch out into screenwriting. 

Mark Twain, who sailed around the coast of the Mediterranean in 1869, wrote in his travelogue Innocents Abroad that travel is “fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness.”

And Alex Haley’s research for Roots took him across the Atlantic. (The book took twelve years to write, but that’s part of tip #2. We’ll dive into not stressing out about the time it’s taking you to finish your book.) 

If you are in a creative funk, consider changing your environment. Traveling is an excellent way to do that. Although I didn’t bring my laptop (or a pen and pad), I still wrote on my phone’s notepad. I now have two new poems and a funny short about a conversation between my stomach, brain, and heart I wrote in my hotel room. It starts with my stomach asking why I ate cold pizza and my brain and heart arguing over whether I was drunk or not.

It is as hilarious as it sounds.

I am already planning my next trip out of the country this time. I am excited at all the creative revelations I’ll gain from it.


Need more Indie Author Tips? Check out the archive of posts here.

What is Self-Publishing?

I did not plan on doing an IAB today, but a question on Twitter sparked a thought.

We talk about Self-Publishing, but what is it?

That sounds like a simple question, but you’d be surprised how many writers with questions about Self-Publishing don’t really know what it is.

Let’s start with what Self-Publishing is not:

Vanity Publishing

Vanity Publishing is not the same as Self-Publishing, and it is not the same as Traditional Publishing. When you pay a publishing company to publish your books, this is Vanity Publishing. Although not popular, I will not speak badly about VPs as this is an option for some authors. To each his own.

My only job is to help you understand what Self-Publishing is and what it is not. And at any time you pay a fee to a company to get your book published, this is not Self-Publishing

Also, if you are signed with a publishing company, this is not Self-Publishing.

Read your contracts thoroughly.

Self-Publishing is also not a “backup plan.” It is not something you do because you think it’s easier or faster. While an author can get their book published faster with Self-Publishing, this does not mean the author should aim to do so. If you rush your book, it will look like it.

Self-Publishing is when you are your own publisher—the end.

Now, what does that mean exactly?

Traditionally, a team of people works to get the manuscript ready for publishing, whether with a major publisher, small press, or vanity. They cover everything from editing to cover art and get paid in royalties.

This is what separates Trad from Vanity. Traditionally, publishers do not charge fees to publish. They get paid from the royalties of the book. However, there has been a lot of controversy about that, but we do not have time to discuss it. Let’s just say it is why many choose to go the Independent route.

Moving on…

Just like it’s the traditional publisher’s job to get the manuscript of their authors ready for publishing, it is your job as your own publisher to get your manuscript ready for publishing. 

This might mean hiring someone to assist you with the process, such as a self-pub assistant or coach, outsourcing for editing, cover art, and formatting.

With Self-Publishing comes total creative control. This can be both liberating and daunting. Essentially, Indie Publishing is a two-edged sword. On the one hand, you are in control of the look and feel of everything about your book. This can be a lot of fun.

But creative control does not mean doing everything yourself. You still need help. And because you are the publisher, you are responsible for hiring this help.

At the risk of sounding redundant, I will leave it here.

Self-Publishing in its most basic form is that you are your own publisher. You are not signed onto a publishing company or paying a publishing company to publish you. You hire your own people, outsource for what you need, and publish in your own name.


Need more Indie Author Tips? Check out the archive of posts here.

Happy National Poetry Month

April is National Poetry Month. Details on Yecheilyah’s 5th Annual Poetry Contest are pending. For now, here are some of my favorite quotes.

“I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.

– Maya Angelou

“If I didn’t define myself, for myself, I would be crunched into other people’s fantasies for me and eaten alive.”

– Audre Lorde

“We are each other’s harvest; we are each other’s business; we are each other’s magnitude and bond.”

– Gwendolyn Brooks

“I’m still learning to love the parts of me that no one claps for.”

– Rudy Francisco

“We’ve braved the belly of the beast. We’ve learned that quiet isn’t always peace.”

– Amanda Gorman

These bitmojis are hilarious, lol.