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Setting  a book’s retail price and wholesale discount is a very important final step in preparing your book for the market.

Just like all other aspects of publishing with Dog Ear, each author has unique needs and desires when it comes to setting a book’s retail price. And like all other part of the process, you are firmly in control and the process is VERY flexible to meet your needs. So, before you select a retail price or a wholesale discount, it is imperative that you do a little research and once again consider your goals.

Setting A Book’s Retail Price and Wholesale Discount


There are four important, interconnected aspects to consider when setting a book’s retail price and wholesale discount.

1) Author Print Cost:

This is the price you pay Dog Ear for a single copy of your book. It is also the amount Dog Ear retains from the sales of your book. Dog Ear determines the author print cost based on the size, format, and page count of your book. To see how we calculate this number you can visit the Author Purchase Prices page on our website.

Once you have approved the final PDFs of your book for press, we will know the Author Print Cost – calculated based upon the formulas found on the Author Purchase Prices page.

2) Retail Price:

Also called the “List Price,” this is the price at which we suggest that our retail partners list your book (they MAY discount your book from the retail / list price, but this does NOT impact your profit).  You have full control over setting the retail price, however we cannot control how much a retailer discounts your book. Again – it doesn’t affect your profit in any way. We have a few tips to offer on setting your retail price:

– Your retail price should typically be 2 to 2.5 times the author print cost

– Research a target retail price by identifying products with which your book might compete

– Think about which books you would LOVE to have your book shelved next too (even if in reality most books are sold from the ‘virtual bookshelf’ of the dot com retailers)

– Take time to consider what other books your reader might find useful

– YOUR book’s retail price should be in the top 1/3 of the price range of the books you’ve identified

– There is something called ‘price point credibility’ – a book priced too low will appear to lack value; a book priced too high will seem over-priced

3) Wholesale Discount:

The Wholesale Discount is essentially the piece of your book’s retail price that is given to the retailer or wholesaler for selling your book. It is a reduction from the retail price that will be used to determine how much booksellers like Amazon.com, Barnes & Noble, and distributors like Ingram Book, pay for your book. You can select a 20%, 40%, or 55% discount.

Each discount level accomplishes something a little bit different:

20% Discount: This is great for authors who have no interest in selling books in brick and mortar stores, and would like to make the largest possible profit off each book sale. Typically this discount level is utilized on high-price academic product such as textbooks or technical manuals. This is sometimes called a ‘short discount’. This discount level is fine for the dot com bookstores, but it is highly unlikely a ‘brick-and-mortar’ store can afford to carry product at this wholesale discount.

40% Discount: This is the discount level that Dog Ear recommends for most of our authors. It achieves the greatest level of profitability for an author while ensuring the broadest level of availability. ALL online retail outlets will have the ability to carry and sell your product, and many brick and mortar stores. Some brick and mortar bookstores may not sell a book with only 40% wholesale discount.

55% Discount: This discount is for the author who has always dreamed of having a book on a brick and mortar bookstore shelf. While no discount, no matter how robust, will guarantee space on a bookstore shelf, this discount does give your title the best chance by ensuring the greatest level of profit for a bookstore. ONLY select this level of wholesale discount if your book marketing plan has a significant portion of your revenue attributed to brick-and-mortar stores.

4) Author Sales Profit:

This represents how much money you will make off a single sale of your book. Your Author Sales Profit will be calculated with the below equation (the same one we outlined previously). You can use this equation to help determine the pricing that gives you the profit you want.

Retail price – Wholesale Discount – Print Cost = PROFIT

The two portions of the equation that can be modified are Retail Price and Wholesale Discount.

Now that you have a better idea of what goes into the pricing of your book, you can make an informed decision based on your goals, market, and individual title.

Ray Robinson
by Ray Robinson

When Ray first entered the publishing industry, authors relied on “vanity presses” to produce their work – many of whom would charge $15,000 or more and leave the author’s garage filled with hundreds of books. Ray, along with coworker Alan Harris, joined forces with Miles Nelson to create Dog Ear Publishing to provide the author community a self-publisher with a heart. The group’s application of new technologies and publishing on demand reduced the cost of publishing a book to a fraction of what it had been for previous generations; authors now have the ability to publish a book in as little as six weeks and print as few as a single copy.