Unless you are giving away all your books, as a self-publisher, you want at least to break even, to recoup your costs.
At the Sunshine Coast Writers' Festival, I asked my fellow self-publishing booksellers how many books they needed to sell to break even. The results are in the table at the right.
My own experience is hidden in the numbers at the 50% level.
The graph shows what one group of writers believed to be their break-even points. At least four pieces of information are missing. If you want to know how many books you'll have to sell to break even, you'll want to consider each of the four items below.
Size Of Print Run
There is a huge difference in the price per copy depending on the size of the print run when you use anything other than a print on demand company. So how many books you print will have a direct impact on how many books you have to sell to make back your costs.
Everyone represented in the graph on this page who needed to sell 100% of their books to break even had very small print runs.
The Retail Price Of The Book
Deciding on the price you will charge for your book is one of the most important decisions you will make. In general, when someone produces something for sale, the retail cost is about eight times the production cost. More about why in the next point below.
For now, understand that this is only a rule of thumb. In my own case, I was firm on the need to have a hard cover book with full colour on all pages. Those things really up the costs of a book. If I had priced my book using the eight times rule, no one would have bought the book. Even I wouldn't have bought it at that price! So I needed to plan very carefully because my retail price, which is the basis for all prices, had to be lower than I would otherwise have wanted. But I needed to price low to guarantee sales.
As an aside, I've received countless compliments on pricing my book perfectly for retailers to sell for me.
Many self-publishing writers have major sticker shock when faced with those who will sell their books for them. Unless you want to sell every book you print at its retail price by yourself, you will need to offer significant discounts. Here are the current going rates.