Pricing your book for retail sales and discounts

April 13th, 2012 → 1:29 pm @

A writer on the Self Publishing Yahoo group recently asked,

I’m writing a nonfiction book about flowers and plants.So my questions are about pricing books locally to the florists and garden centers. If they want to sell them on consignment, what percent (discount) should I discount to them? And if I sell them out right to the outlet for them to price and sell, what percent do I discount them? It seems that the consignment percentage should be less. Any answers or comments? Thanks in advance. Brenda

Carol White of shared her knowledge or offering discounts to resellers

Pricing – Retail and Discount Schedules

You, as the publisher/author, get to set your own retail price. You also should set your own pricing discount schedule for your various types of distribution. The law says that you must offer the same discount to the same “class” of customers. It is a little confusing what this means, but generally the type of customer and the terms under which your book is sold to those customers determines the pricing schedule.

Typically they look something like this:

Retail/end user (for instance on your website) Satisfaction guaranteed (returnable if not satisfied)
1-2 copies – no discount, payment upon purchase
2-10 – 10% – payment upon purchase
10+ 15% – net 30 days


all quantities – 55% discount, returnable, net 90 days (pretty standard)

Retail book stores

1-2 copies – 20%, non-returnable paid upon order (called a STOP order)
2 + copies – 40% discount,returnable, net 90

Special sales – maybe gift stores, food stores, pet stores or other genre specific
(these are less standard, but might be something like this)

1-5 copies – 25%, non returnable, paid upon order
6-20 copies – 40%, nonreturnable, net 30 days
20+ (or full case) – 50%, nonreturnable, net 45

Once you determine your discount schedule, the law says you must apply it in an even handed way. If you want to offer a different discount to a particular client, you must establish a new discount schedule with some terms that are different than your existing schedules that justifies the difference in terms. another variable that I didn’t mention above and that can effect your schedules is who pays shipping.

Now, in a very practical way, do I think the full force of the US government is going to descend upon us little publishers? No. But is it good business practice to do this and treat your customer equally? Yes.

Once you publish a book and have it listed in Bowker’s Books in Print with a specific retail price and establish your discount schedules, your work with pricing is done. Anyone who buys a book from you may resell it at any price they choose. You have no control over that – nor should you. You’ve set your terms, gotten paid according to your price schedule and released it to the world.

One word of caution that should be noted is that of credit terms. Once you establish your discount schedule, you also need to consider who you consider to be credit worthy. You do not have to extend credit to anyone, however, you do need to assess each companies credit worthiness. Having a standard credit application and terms under which you extend credit can make the difference between the success and failure of your business. There is no point in “selling” books to a company that does not have the known ability to pay for them. There is nothing wrong with asking for money or a credit card upfront. That one small act will save you a world of heartache with companies and individuals who can’t or won’t pay their bills.

Carol White is an author, speaker, writer, and book marketing coach. In addition to co-authoring the best selling, award-winning book, Live Your Road Trip Dream, Carol is a frequent guest speaker at conventions. She is also a published writer for magazines and websites and has spoken about publishing to groups including IBPA’s Publishing University, the Northwest Association of Book Publishers and the Bay Area Independent Publisher’s Assn. She has an active book marketing consulting practice that includes both domestic and international clients.


Thanks to Carol White for some very helpful guidelines!

Carol’s website will help you learn more about her many activities and how she can help you accomplish your goals, whether you are publishing a book, looking for a speaker for your convention, or seeking a writer for your publication.

Or follow her on Twitter like I did!


(another Carol) Carol Topp, CPA

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