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Knowledge Base / How Do I Set a Retail Price for My Print Book?

How Do I Set a Retail Price for My Print Book?

Modified on: May 28, 2022


  • Books Eligible for Retail Distribution
  • Calculators
  • Bulk Discounts
  • Retail Pricing: Getting Started
  • Profit vs. Revenue
  • Determine a Product Price
  • Wholesale and Retail Pricing Example
  • Wholesale Price
  • Retail (or List) Price
  • Suggested Retail Price and Your Revenue
  • Retail Price Calculator
  • Litchmill Bookstore Price vs. Retail Price
  • Why must my Litchmill bookstore price match my retail price?

Creators set their print book price during the creation process. The minimum price for a print book is the manufacturing cost. If you wish to distribute your book through online retail sites, there is also a distribution fee. Then you add the amount of revenue you wish to earn from each book purchased.

Books Eligible for Retail Distribution

Not all book sizes and binding types are eligible for distribution through retail channels. If you choose the option to sell your book through major online book retailers in the publishing tool, only those formats that qualify for retail distribution AND match the page size in your PDF are available for selection. 

For a complete list of distribution-eligible book formats, see the Litchmill Product Page


The Manufacturing Cost, Shipping Estimate, Bulk Discount, and Retail Revenue calculators are accessed from the Pricing page.

To access the calculators:

  • Go to and click Pricing in the page header.
  • Choose your book size, enter the number of pages, select print quality, paper and binding type.
  • The calculators will display estimates based on your selections. 

Bulk Discounts

Bulk discounts are available for some printed products based on the quantity ordered. For orders up to 99 copies of a single title, use the coupon available on our home page. Litchmill’s bulk specialist is here to provide custom quotes based on the specifications and quantity you need. Reach out today with your quantity and information about your book so we can help you get the best price on your next order.

If you’re still planning your book, use our Products Page to find the size, binding, paper, and ink options available for your book.

Retail Pricing: Getting Started

In any business, including self-publishing, the ultimate reason for an effective pricing system is to earn revenue from your work. Since the amount of revenue earned depends on manufacturing costs, selling price, and the number of books sold, you should consider the following when pricing your work:

  • What are the manufacturing costs for my book?  
  • How much profit do I want to make? 
  • What are my fans willing to pay? 
  • What is my competition charging for a similar product?

Profit vs. Revenue

Before we start setting a price for your printed book, there are a few terms you should be familiar with if your intention is to earn income from sales of your book.

  • Profit is the net income for your business after other expenses have been accounted for, including payment to authors, pre-production, labor, marketing, and overhead costs such as utilities and rent.
  • Revenue is a general term for any money Litchmill pays you for book sales.

Determine a Product Price

You may have created the best book ever on your chosen topic, but if the wrong price is set, your sales and/or revenue will suffer. Therefore, you must first know your book’s manufacturing cost so that a break-even point can be established. Keep in mind that self-publishing manufacturing costs include both materials and labor.

If, after using the formulas below, you find that your selling price is noticeably higher than that of authors offering comparable works, you may want to look for ways to reduce your manufacturing costs or expected revenue per book in exchange for potentially selling more units.

Please Note: If you choose Global Distribution for your print book, it is subject to the retail pricing model described below.

Wholesale and Retail Pricing Example

In the example below, assume you have determined a market exists for a book about The Fundamentals of Underwater Firefighting. The manufacturing cost for each book is $5.50. You determine your minimum acceptable revenue per book is $4.00. The overhead cost, or Litchmill commission, is $1.00 per book.

Wholesale Price

In this example, “Wholesale Price” refers to the minimum price at which you are willing to sell your book to retailers, who will in turn sell it to their customers for a profit.

Wholesale Price per Book = Manufacturing Cost + Revenue + Litchmill Commission 

From our example: $5.50 + $4.00 + $1.00 = $10.50 per book

Since manufacturing costs are somewhat out of the author’s control, this pricing example relies on your decisions about the revenue you wish to make from each retail purchase of your book. An author should also consider that while you may be earning a smaller royalty per book when offering it at a wholesale price, you could eventually earn more income from higher book sales through retail channels.

Retail (or List) Price

The generally accepted retail pricing formula is: Wholesale Price x 2

From our example: $10.50 x 2 = $21.00

When you decide to offer your work to retailers at wholesale prices, it is with the understanding that the retailer expects to sell your work at a price sufficient to cover their costs and still make a profit – even if the retailer chooses to offer your work at a discount.

Suggested Retail Price and Your Revenue

The wholesale price you set for your book is the price retailers pay to purchase your book for resale from their sites, stores, or shops. The suggested retail price includes a price markup sufficient to cover the retailer’s labor, marketing, rent, utilities, and other fixed costs associated with owning and running a business. The retailer may choose to sell your work at the full retail price ($21.00 from our example above), they may offer a standard discount like free shipping, or they may run a special for a defined period of time such as 25% off all print books. The selling price set by the retailer has no effect on the revenue you earn from selling your book at the wholesale price – in other words, if your Retail Revenue is set at $4, you will make $4 for every book sold in retail channels, even if the retailer offers a discount.

Retail Price Calculator

Since no single pricing formula works for all projects and no formula assures maximum creator revenue, every author must approach retail pricing individually. 

Litchmill provides a Retail Price Calculator. This calculator allows you to see how book size, binding, print and paper selections affect both the manufacturing and retail pricing for your book. There is also a retail price calculator (available while creating your project) that provides an exact price for the project you created.

Within the calculator, it is probably easier to set a preferred retail price and let Litchmill calculate your maximum revenue based on your book’s specifications (page count, paper quality, binding, etc.). Using the $21.00 retail price from the above example and assuming a 100% markup, the calculator automatically sets a wholesale price of $10.50.

The wholesale price minus production costs determines what is left over for your revenue and the Litchmill commission. Using the calculator, you can

  • Enter a Retail price and Litchmill calculates your revenue and the Litchmill commission. 
  • Enter a Revenue amount and Litchmill calculates the retail price and the Litchmill commission. 
  • Enter $0 in the Royalty field to reset the price to the minimum manufacturing cost.

Litchmill Bookstore Price vs. Retail Price

In the above wholesale pricing example, you make $4.00 for every copy of The Fundamentals of Underwater Firefighting purchased by a retailer. But, how does revenue compare if you choose to sell your work through retailers and the Litchmill Bookstore? Using the same pricing structure:

DescriptionLulu PriceRetail Price
Suggested Retail Price$21.00$21.00
Manufacturing Cost*
(# of Pages + Binding + Labor)
Retail MarkupN/A$10.50
Net Revenue
(Price – Cost – Markup)
Lulu Commission
(20% of Net Profit)
Creator Revenue$12.40$4.00

* The retail manufacturing cost is an estimate since some retailers, such as, own the presses on which your book will be printed and can therefore print and assemble books at a slightly different manufacturing cost.

Why must my Litchmill bookstore price match my retail price?

A single retail price is not only a good business practice, but it also ensures that your retail partners are not selling your title at a disadvantage. This practice also complies with markets operating under a “fixed-price law.”

Books with Global Distribution therefore have one suggested list price for retail sales on Litchmill, Amazon, iBookstore, Barnes & Noble, and other bookstores. The list price must be the same for all retail channels.

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