All posts by Brad Pauquette - Columbus Publishing Lab CEO

How We Price Our Services – A Better Way to Do Business

There are three common ways that businesses price their services.

Market Based Pricing – A company asks the question, “What’s the most amount of money the most number of people will people pay for this service?”  Companies spend a lot of time and money researching how much people will pay, and how many customers are lost as the price increases to a new bracket.  At some point, the number of customers lost outweighs the increase in revenue.  So they charge the most amount possible before they lose too many customers to make the increased price worthwhile.

Competition Based Pricing – Companies ask the question, “How much are my competitors charging?” Prices are determined based on what competing companies are charging, and the relative services and incentives the company is offering.  Company X charges $1,000, we’ll charge $950.

Value Based Pricing – A company asks the question, “What value does my service provide to the client?”  So, for instance, if an author can expect to make $10,000 off their book, a company who is producing the book might charge $9,000.

Any of these methods would price our services much higher than the amount that we charge. Self-publishers are paying an arm and a leg for quality book production with our competitors.  Other companies are charging $5,000 to $15,000 for similar services that we charge less than $2,000 for.  And if we’re looking at value, our commitment to our clients is unmatched, and most of our clients earn far more money over time than they spend with us.

But we employ a fourth pricing model, Cost Based Pricing.  We look at a potential service and say, “It will cost us $X to provide this service in cash out the door, and it will take us Y number of hours to do a great job.  We want to pay our employees and contractors a reasonable living wage, so we need to charge this amount.”  We don’t want to eat spaghetti every night, but we also don’t want to take advantage of anyone.  So we figure out how much we need to bring in so that we pay our bills.  That’s what you pay.

The world would be a better place if more companies adopted this model.  So many companies are asking the question “How much can we get?” when they should be asking “How much should we get?”

I believe in self-publishing.  I believe it’s a viable industry, and I believe that it can provide readers with great and valuable materials.  But I also look at the self-publishing industry and think what a racket, no wonder so many people don’t take self-publishing seriously.

One of my fears is that people will look at our low prices and ask, “How can the services be as good if they’re only charging 20% of the price? What corners are they cutting?”  I can assure you that the only corner we’re cutting is the one where we take you for as much money as we can.  I’m confident that the materials we produce at Columbus Publishing Lab blow our competition out of the water, and our clients are profoundly more successful.  We can do it for less, simply because we’re committed to charging a fair price.

We don’t have a large corporate structure or shareholders.  We’re a family owned business full of great people who want to earn a fair living wage.  We’re not here to maximize the profits on our spreadsheets.  As the CEO, I don’t report to the board, I report to my wife and kids.

We’re not here to increase shareholder wealth, we’re here to make a fair living and do something we love.  We’re here to provide a quality service that we think is important.

How Libraries Vet Books in the Age of Self-Publishing

Later today I’ll be a panel member at the Ohio Library Council’s annual conference, speaking and answering questions about how libraries should go about considering self-published books.

There’s a lot of debate across the literary world about self-published and small press literature.  With only five companies controlling the vast majority of publishing in the United States, more and more quality materials are produced by self-publishers every day.  But there’s still a lot of really bad work being self-published as well.  How is a library to decide what to add to their collection?

Self-publishers who do things right submit to the same grueling process that a traditional publisher would employ to improve and produce their book.  I outline the five steps that all self-publishers should use (and which are used by traditional publishers) in my book, The Self-Publishing Handbook, which you can currently get for free (click).  Three of these five steps can be detected by a library purchasing committee in 10 seconds or less, and the other two are easily identified with a little more investigation.  Chances are that if a self-publisher is taking the time to correctly complete these steps, and investing in their project to do so, they’re far more likely to have produced a book with quality content as well.

There are certainly exceptions.  There are plenty of terrible self-published books that the author bothered to spend a few thousand dollars on and make look pretty.  And there are rare diamonds in the rough, amazing manuscripts thrown together with free tools on CreateSpace.  The only real way to determine the value of a book is to read it. But for librarians who are bombarded with thousands of titles to potentially purchase, or just regular readers sorting through Amazon, the production quality of a book is a great starting point.

It’s not that difficult to produce your book correctly, it just takes patience and resolve.  You owe it to yourself to do things right, and you’re also doing a tremendous favor to potential buyers, whether they’re librarians or regular readers.  With so many books to sort through, production value is a reasonable first step in determining the potential quality of a book.

Quality production may be less expensive than you think.  The Self-Publishing Handbook provides lots of tips for hiring editors, designers and artists to help with your book production, but it also includes tips for the DIY self-publisher.  You can grab the book for free for a limited time here.

Librarians will be looking at your book.  I love our libraries.  Let’s make their job a little easier.

Brad Pauquette is the CEO of Columbus Publishing Lab, the owner of Columbus Press, and the director of Columbus Creative Cooperative.  Check out his books on Amazon, or visit his website at