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 April, 2009

Marketing a Self-published African Novel
 by Janine Dube

When I was writing my debut novel, I was filled with excitement and I had high hopes about getting it published. It’s not that I was ignorant about the challenges that I was sure to face; in fact I had read about them extensively but it all doesn’t quite sink in until the actual moment comes..... (continued below...)


Pricing a Self-published Book


by: Bruce L. Cook

After writing and publishing a Self-published book, it’s necessary to set a price.

At first glance, setting the price would seem simple. For example, if the printer is charging $8.93 for a copy of your book (plus shipping), you are free to add your profit. But, even at this initial point, a writer is torn between a desire to reap monetary rewards or to help readers by charging as little and possible.

Whichever way this decision goes, a price like $8.93 just doesn’t sound professional. Instead, a number like $8.95 or $9.95 seems more like books in the marketplace.

Alas, the problem gets considerably more complicated.

If the author simply plans to sell e book online, with no sales by bookstores, the prices above would be fine. However, if the author would like a bookstore to sell the book, it’s necessary to give that bookstore a discount of 40%.

Now, if the book’s printing cost were $8.93, 40% would be $3.57, and (adding this to $8.93) the book’s cost would be $12.50. But please be aware - this method of calculation is wrong! For example, the bookseller’s discount on $12.50 would be $5.00, which is much higher than 40% of the printing cost! If a self-publisher adopted this discount, each copy would be selling to bookstores at $7.50, and the self-publisher would be losing $1.43 per book.

How, then, should a self-publisher set the book’s price? In the above example, with a $8.93 printing cost, the correct way to establish a price allowing bookstores to purchase at 40% discount, is to multiply the printing cost by 1.666. In this case, the minimum price is $14.88, and this fails to give the self-publisher any profit. (To check the math, multiply the price by 40% and add the result to the book’s printing cost.)

In summary, to calculate a book price which will allow a 40% discount, multiply the cost by 1.666.

At this point, an author is fully justified in charging more, for it will be necessary to have book sales reimburse any marketing funds the author has spent. And, sadly, it will be typical to spend more than profit on marketing, and the book will end up costing the author something. Measure it as the author’s cost-per-book.

When pricing your book, try not to lose money on sales of an individual copy. However, if money has been spent on marketing, it is normal to price at a loss.




Marketing.. (continued)

As a new author on the scene it is difficult to get one’s voice heard, as I’m sure most will agree but I believe it becomes even harder if one does not quite fit the criteria. Most ‘ethnic’ authors will fall into this category. In my case my being African writing primarily about Africans might have put me at a slight disadvantage and I’ll explain what I mean by this.

From what I’ve noticed, it seems as though there is an unwritten rule amongst mainstream publishers that African writers are the untouchables because there just isn’t a market for them. When I was sending my manuscript to publishers I expected it to be tough. Even with my cautionary optimism it turned out to be tougher and more discouraging than I had expected. At one point I did question my work but I soon snapped out of it because I knew my work depended on me remaining positive. I would not have considered self-publishing but I realised that it was probably my only option and I would have to work it from there.

I had heard that writing a book is easier than selling it and I came to realise the truth in this once my book became available for purchase. Advertising is vital but incredibly expensive if one has to do it from their own pocket like I have to and therefore it poses a huge dilemma. Without the support of a big publishing house getting my work out there seems like a herculean task. I have to make sure I use effective advertising tools so as not to waste scarce resources and with my inexperience it is difficult to know what the best methods are.

I believe a lot of authors who resort to self-publishing feel that they have no other choice. Especially non-white or non-western authors face this dilemma because there is a lot either real or imagined riding against them. It is a difficult situation when one feels that their background seems to conspire against them. I feel that being an African writer closes a few more doors and trying to get my work out there feels like a crusade. It is a challenge that I relish but I cannot help feeling that it would be great to write knowing that my work will be judged solely on it’s merits and not any other reason. 

Because of the points mentioned above, I feel that the reality of being self-published is harsh but I am eternally optimistic and I always look at the glass as half full. I will keep trying because if anything keeps the human spirit alive it is a challenge and the hope to overcome. I have to keep coming up with creative ways of marketing myself and make sure I learn from this experience. That is the best I can do.

By Janine Dube



I am a Zimbabwean woman who lives in the United Kingdom. I have studied Fashion and Textiles and I love writing in my spare time.


A Dark Horizon ISBN 9781438954042 is a story about Rachel, a young woman who inherits a trouble-ridden company. Deception and scandal add to the mixture and make for an entertaining, captivating and contemporary story. The book can currently be bought from Authorhouse.com and soon will be available on Amazon.com and WHSmith.com.


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Publishing New Writers,

April, 2009 (no. 1004)


Publisher: Bruce L. Cook, 6086 Dunes Dr, Sanford, NC 27332.

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