Monday, April 26, 2010

Selling Your Handmade Books: Selling by the Golden Rule

Since my first post on deciding what level of a seller you want to be, we have ventured into pricing, keeping record of finances, taxes and making all the small print decisions.

We are now taking a step from behind the scenes to the viewable you. For this post, I'm going to start by taking you shopping. 

We're going to take a stroll through my local grocery store. There are certain things that I expect when I go grocery shopping.

1- I expect a clean store. I don't want to see muddy footprints all over in the produce section or dust all over the jars of peanut butter. I want to know things are fresh, new and clean. 

2- I expect the store to be well organized. I want to know that when I go down the aisle marked "Baking Goods" I can expect to find the flour and sugar that I'm looking for. 

3- I expect visually pleasing displays. I don't want to be distracted by ugly neon sticker flags all the way down the aisle. But an occasional little poster to show a new item is often received well. 

4- I expect well marked sale items with no tricks involved and no hassle (like mail in rebates...ick!)

5- The store must be well lit so that I can see the food that I am purchasing. I want to know whether the food is good or if it's gone moldy.

6- I expect the boxes/bags of food to have good descriptions of the contents. I expect them to be in a language I can read and I like it when they make the item sound like it's the perfect food even if it's just a box of graham crackers, however, they must remain honest in their advertising of it. I also expect all the ingredients to be on the box so I know what I'm getting.

7- I expect a friendly atmosphere. I want someone there to answer my questions when I need them answered or help me with getting stuff down from the top shelf (which happens often as I'm only 5'2")

8- I like my grocery store to have a variety of items but hate it if the store is just too big and I don't like it if it takes 5 minutes just to get the milk from the back of the store. 

9- I expect things to be in the right place. It's annoying to me when I go to get a canister of oats, to find that there isn't any. And then while browsing the juice aisle I happen upon a lost canister of oats that has been misplaced. I like to know I can find what I need in the place it should be.

10- I expect fair prices and honest people to run the store.

11- I expect a simple, hassle free check out.

12- I expect the bagger to bag my groceries well so that the eggs will not be broken and the jar of pickles doesn't end up on top of the grapes. I want my food to be packaged nicely to arrive safely home.

Your expectations of a good shopping experience might be different than mine. However, I am now going to illustrate how my shopping experience has affected the way I run my own Etsy Shop. This is called Selling by the Golden Rule. The golden rule: Treat others the way you would like to be treated. Do you provide your own ideal shopping experience for your customers? 

1- Is my store clean? Well, no one is tracking mud in, but when a customer comes across my store, they get to see my banner, shop announcement, and titles of my items. I like things in my grocery store to be clean, so this is the feel my banner has. I keep my shop announcement short to allow for a nice flow right into the items of my shop. I also try to keep my titles to the point and I don't clutter the titles with too many adjectives. 

2- I expect my store to be well organized and I do this by using the "sections" option. I keep my sections to the point and well organized. I also make sure that if I'm using the sections, I put everything in a section so all the items have a place or "shelf" in my shop.

3- I expect visually pleasing displays. Eye candy, that's what my items should be to my customer. My sale announcements should be as well. Think about how you like to be notified of new items or promotions. Keep this in mind when creating your own announcements in your Etsy Shop or for advertising elsewhere.

4- If I offer something on sale, I shouldn't make the customer go through a lengthy process of paying and refunding and then putting up a custom listing and then making them pay again etc. If I offer a deal, it should be hassle free on the customer's part. 

5- I can't exactly change everyone's brightness on their monitor screens, but when it comes to lighting, having good lighting on the items in my shop can really help the item to sell. Just as I don't want to have to squint at items on the back of a shelf in the dark, my customers expect to see the item in detail up close and in the light. 

6- Since I expect good descriptions of food, that's what I should give my customers. Nice clear descriptions in a language they can understand (without too much jargon and fluff) and I should make the item sound appealing while being honest about it. I should also let my customers know what the item was made with.

7- Since I expect help when I want it, I should also give that to my customers. I should respond promptly to conversations about my products and answer any questions I can. 

8- Since I don't like huge mile-long stores, I shouldn't make mine too long to wade through. Keeping the number of items in a reasonable range is best so that my customers can easily find the item they are looking for without a long wait of trudging through page after page. However, I should offer more than just a few books and really give my customers a variety to choose from. 

9- To keep things in the right place, I need to use the right tags. If someone does a search in my shop for a blue book, I hope they can find it, as it's been properly tagged. I also hope they don't have to stroll down the red aisle to find that a blue book was misplaced. 

10- Since I expect fair prices and honest people...well...that's just a given from me right?

11- I expect a simple hassle free checkout and hope my customers have that same experience. This also goes with #4- a simple checkout in my opinion requires very little of the customer. 

12- Since I expect all my groceries to arrive home safely, I should package all my own handmade goods in such a way so that they can arrive safely to their destinations as well. 

Have I reached my ideals in all these areas? Probably not, but I work toward them, and try to improve when I begin to see where I need to. 

We'll talk more in depth about some of these aspects of our Etsy shops in future Tuesday posts but for this week, I urge you to take a moment to list your own expectations from the places you shop and how you can reflect those expectations in your own Etsy Shop. 

Please share your own expectations of an ideal shopping experience!

The Finished Books

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Wishing a Happy Birthday to my Grumpa.

Wishing my wonderful Grandpa a Happy Birthday Today!

My grandpa is one of those guys that looks tough (and he can be if he so chooses) but he's also very sweet and one of the kindest men I know.

He has 5 amazingly talented children, 18 grandchildren and I think he currently has 12 great grandchildren. He's also very supportive of all that they do. Above is my grandpa at my Brother Skyler's Eagle Scout of Honor Ceremony and Jadon's Baby Blessing. Jadon is sporting one of his company hats. The photo was from 2008 but he still wears the hat and it fits him better now!

Happy Birthday Grandpa and Great Grandpa!

Monday, April 19, 2010

Selling Your Handmade Books: Selling Policies

Before your buyers come asking questions, it's very helpful to have answers! Whether you sell online, out of your home, at a craft fair, boutique or gallery, creating a set of policies can help you determine who you are, not as a book artist but, as a business person. Most of the answers to these questions can be written down and reviewed occasionally.

Policies for your shop on Etsy
Most of the answers to the questions below should be available to your customers in your shop policies. 
  • What forms of payment do you accept? (Any advice on using that form of payment if they are not familiar with it?)
  • Do you accept any other forms of payment not listed?
  • Will you sell your items internationally? What countries will you/ can you not send your items to? (For example, Italy will not allow books to be shipped there.)
  • Will you ever offer a refund? Under what circumstances will you offer a refund? Will you offer partial refund, full refund, refund on shipping, return shipping?
  • How do you/will you ship the purchased item? 
  • Do you use recycled packaging or new packaging?
  • Do you include an invoice?
  • What shipping service do you use?
  • What is the typical method of shipping?
  • How long does it usually take before you ship an item?
  • How long does it usually take for the item to arrive in your own country? Internationally?
  • Would you be willing to use a different shipping service?
  • What address will you use when shipping the item? The one on the etsy invoice or the paypal invoice (sometimes they are different).
  • Feedback: when will you leave it and would you prefer they contact you with concerns before leaving feedback?
  • Allergy issues: Will the item come from a smoke free/pet free studio or do you have a happy feline that occasionally curls up on your lap while you work?
  • Custom orders: Will you take custom orders? Do you charge an extra fee for custom orders/ how much? How long might a custom order take? 
Policies for selling at craft shows
  • If someone breaks/tears a page in a book while looking at will you react? 
  • Do you require them to pay for the item or hide it under the table to be fixed later or discount the book if the person refuses to pay for it? 
  • Will you have the same reaction if it were a child with chocolate fingers that touched one of your books while mom wasn't looking?
  • Do you have insurance for your items?
  • Do you have a sign for your policies or just let them know about your policy when something occurs?
  • If someone is a dollar short but really wants to buy one of your books will you still give it to him/her? What if they are 5 dollars short? 10 dollars short?
  • Do you offer refunds at the craft show? Under a certain time limit? or not at all? 
  • Someone wants to bargain with you to get a lower price. Will you lower your price? If so, how much?
Policies for selling at boutiques or art galleries

We'll cover more of this in about a month, but for now, art galleries and boutiques usually have their own policies as an establishment, therefore, when you create your policies for selling at Brick and Mortar stores/Galleries, always compare before agreeing to anything. You might have to budge on some things, but hopefully, having a set ideal will give you firm ground if any negotiations have to be made.
  • If the B&M wants to give a discount, will it come out of their portion of the commission or yours? 
  • If a customer loves your work and would purchase if the price were only slightly lower, would you be willing to go down 10%? If so, make sure you let the B &M or art gallery manager know this as it might gain you faster sales (less money but faster sales). They'll always try and sell it at the original price, but this might give them a buffer zone to negotiate with the customer.
  • Who is responsible for loss/theft/damage to your books? 
  • Does the store own insurance? 
  • Do you have insurance for your items? 
  • If the venue is not located near you, who pays for the shipping costs of the items? To give you an idea, most B&M's that are on commission expect you to pay for shipping costs. Some will pay for the return shipping if items aren't sold within an X amount of time. Most art galleries expect you to pay for shipping and return shipping. If they offer return shipping, get it in writing. Especially if it's a large quantity of items which would be costly on your part to pay. If the store is not on commission but is purchasing wholesale, then the customer usually pays for shipping just like any other purchase (unless you offer free shipping).
The last list of policies to have are for sales from your home/studio
  • Can anyone stop by your home to purchase one of your handmade things? Do they need to make an appointment? 
  • If they're friends/family will you offer them a discount? If so, how much?
  • What if they're short by $1, $5 or $10? What if they're short by $25?
  • What if they only have $50 and want to buy a $35 book and you don't happen to have $15 in change for them? 
  • What if they want a custom order? Do they go in the custom order queu or are they bumped up to the top because they're family/friends?
Knowing beforehand how to handle something is of great help in any situation. If a problem arrives, or a potential customer has questions, you can refer them to your shop policies. 

I've really enjoyed all the feedback I've received about Tuesday Posts on Selling your Handmade Books. It's encouraging, so please keep it up. Also, please leave comments and suggestions for others about your own policies. I'm sure there are some questions I haven't even thought about! 

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Selling Your Handmade Books: The legalities

When it comes to starting up a business, sometimes legalities can be a daunting task. I can't give you a step by step, however, I can give you resources and a little knowledge.

For us in the United States, we're at the end of tax time. I'll be honest, I did my taxes last night. Yes, they are due on Thursday. I'm a procrastinator. The reason being, for 2009 I was not very organized. So it took me several hours of calculating receipts and gathering information that should have been in my spreadsheet. I'm taking my own advice from last weeks post, though, and I've set up a spreadsheet for 2010. This way, I can sit down once a month, or even every few months and do a bit of financing to know where I'm at in my business, as well as prepare everything for tax time. Instead of "having" to do finances, I should be excited to look over my finances and see my income grow.

Even if you have everything on hand for taxes, you might need a bit of help. We decided to do our own taxes this year, which took us about 5 hours and a couple of phone calls to my dad who is a self-employed business owner himself. Always use your life lines! You can always pay someone to do your taxes, which we did last year. We had a few businesses going and I didn't want to do all those forms for each business. I think it was worth my time to pay someone to do it last year, but I'm glad we took the time to do it this year as it helped us understand the process a bit more. It's actually kind of fun if you don't stress it, and make it a puzzle to solve. Once you know the forms you need, the instructions direct you through it all. It can be a bit of a maze, going from this form, to that, filling out this worksheet, and that worksheet. If it makes your head swim, pair up with someone and work it out, or if the game isn't fun anymore, hand it over to a professional. My dad also gave me a tip on the Making Work Pay Tax Credit.  We filed a schedule M and earned a bit of tax money from that (thanks dad). 

Three questions and three brief answers (these are my own thoughts, but I'm not a lawyer or an accountant):

I don't know anything about taxes for small businesses. Where do I start?

For information on being self employed and paying taxes, you can visit the IRS information page. And this is a great thread from the etsy forums about taxes, written by Jason of JJMFinance. Also, you can always speak to someone local to you who is self employed.

Do I need a business license? 

It depends. Check with your local city or county business bureau. My first business license was $20 for a year when I lived in Idaho. Having a business license had it's advantages. I was able to buy wholesale from certain companies that required me to have a business license and I got a cool certificate for my memory book. I spoke with the city about the need for one and they suggested that if I was going to have a lot of traffic to my residential home (clients or UPS deliveries) then it would be best to apply for a business license. That way, if neighbors complained, they'd need to complain to the city. If you're just on a hobby level you might not even need to worry about it. 

Do I need to pay Sales Tax?

I'm not sure about the rest of the world but I do know that if I sell something here in Utah to another Utahn, I have to pay a state sales tax. If I sell online to someone in another state, then no, I don't need to pay a sales tax. When I do craft shows, sales tax is due to the state 10 days after the event, and sales taxes from other (non-event) sales are due quarterly. If you have questions about sales tax, you can always visit your local sales tax office. For those in other countries, please leave a comment if you know of any info or great links to share for those in your area of the world.

Using a Spread for Bookkeeping
If you're still figuring out how you want to set up your spreadsheet to track your profits, here's an example (click to see large):

For now, my spreadsheets are set up in Google docs. It's nice for accessing from any computer with an internet connection, anywhere I may be. This is a screen shot (just an example) of an expenses worksheet. If you want, you can refer to a Schedule C and break down your expenses the way it does to get more detailed, instead of just listing "supplies." It's also great to break down where your costs are going to, so you can narrow down where your biggest expenditures are and find ways of being more efficient with costs. "Did I really spend $1200 on paper in December?!"

I have a spreadsheet for my Expenses, one for my Gross Income, and another for my Net Income. This helps me keep things separate and organized.

Net Income = Gross Income - Expenses

For hobby level or side income level this might be all that you need in order to determine your expenses, profit, and how well your business is going. Rr for the hobbyist, to know just how much that hobby costs, and whether or not it is paying for itself. Making these spreadsheets will be of great help when doing taxes. 

Using for Bookkeeping
If you want something more robust (and free) I suggest using You can even download your Etsy transactions as a CSV file, allowing you to do your bookkeeping and tax preparation, and you can even sort your data into graphs and visuals (hooray!) When tax time rolls around, regular use of should enable you to manage taxes with less fuss. I just found, and need to evaluate it further to see if I'll want to be using it for my own business. In the meantime, does anyone with experience using it have any input?

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Essential Bookbinding Tools

Essential Bookbinding Tools

Bonefolder- This is used for creating sharp creases when folding pages. It also has many other uses when bookbinding. Bonefolders are most often made from the leg bone of a cow or deer. Randy J. Arnold has even made some from Gabon Ebony. Someday I'd like to own one of his beautiful bone folders.

Most bone folders cost somewhere between $4.50 and $9 USD. If you want a special one, you'll have to pay more. There are also teflon folders which won't leave any marks on your paper as bone sometimes will. I can't fork out $30 for a teflon folder though and I really like the feel of the bone. So for now, I'll stick with the traditional ones.

There are also plastic bonefolders (not teflon) and you can buy them for fairly cheap but if you're really going to venture into the world of books, I suggest buying a real bone.

Rulers- All I'm going to say about this, is that you need a metal edge ruler. If you try to make straight cuts with your exacto knife against a plastic ruler, you will take slices or chunks out of your ruler. It's also important to have a ruler with small markings that show at least 16th of an inch.

Bookbinding Awl- This awl is not the one you find in your typical toolbox. The bookbinding awl is thinner. It's the same diameter as a sewing needle which allows the holes you punch to be sewn through without a lot of movement of the pages, or large holes in your pages. I just broke my first bookbinding awl. It wasn't a great awl and it was really inexpensive but I was sad. Mostly for sentimental reasons. I plan on doing a video demonstration on how to make your own bookbinding awl. It's fairly simple, and then maybe you won't feel so bad if you break one in the future. For now, I use a sharp metal stylus which is fairly close to the same size as my needle. It was in my ceramics kit from a college class and it's been very useful, especially when it comes to putting holes through bookboard or leather. Just a note, if you ever think you'd like to save money by buying a student awl (the ones with the blue plastic handles) Don't! They're awful and they might not even make it through one punched hole. I think we went through 20 in my last bookbinding class before I decided just to make everyone an awl. Daniel made all the students awls and they worked wonderfully.

Needles - I use a size 1 darning needle which works great for my 3 ply and 4 ply linen thread. There are blunt needles as well but I like to use the sharp ones. I don't know why. I also use curved 1.5" upholstery needles for use on coptic stitch and occasionally when sewing cord bound books.

Xacto type knife - I use two different blades right now. One is an xacto knife and the other is a utility snap off blade. The utility blade is great for cutting bookboard by hand but if I'm carving into the bookboard for insets or carving designs for raised leather then I prefer to use an xacto knife because it has more flex to the blade then the utility knife and allows for easier cutting when creating curves. The xacto blades cost more than the cheap snapoff blade. For the last few years, I've been stealing my xacto blades from my dad's "lifetime supply" and I don't think he realizes he now no longer has a "life time supply". Sorry dad, I'll replace them!

Pencil and archival pen - I use pencils to help mark my bookboard or holes on my punching template and I use a pen when creating shapes on the cover for embossed hinges or raised designs. If you are concerned about something being archival, make sure that your pen is archival. I use Micron brand pens, simply because I happen to have a bunch in my drawing supplies.

Balloons - Yes, I do think of it as an essential bookbinding tool. Sometimes, you may have a difficult time grasping the needle and the balloon helps me to grip the needle tightly. I learned this from some awesome quilters at a Church activity (a Rexburg 4th Ward Relief Society "Super Saturday"). Balloons were instantly in my toolbox after that.

Non-Serrated Butter Knife - Carla Jimison taught me this trick. You can buy a non-serrated butter knife from the thrift store for 25 cents and they work just as well as the fancy paper knives that cost $16. Whenever I'm at Deseret Industries, I check for these and buy as many as I can so we can use them in my classes. You might even have one in your kitchen drawer. I had a man borrow one from his wife's china cabinet during a class I did. I hope she's ok with that. This type of knife gives the paper softer edges than if I were to use an Xacto blade on it. You can use whatever you'd like to cut your paper but I prefer to use this or a tearing bar. My tearing bar isn't photographed but you can view it online on Amazon. We use both sides for cutting paper and I love the length of it as I usually end up tearing down large sheets for my text paper. While a tear bar isn't essential, once you use one, you'll find that it is!

Hole Punch - I use a hole punch for a few different styles of books. In the photograph you can see my old metal tool punch that I would use with a hammer. The tips would wear down very quickly and it was really a pain (and very noisy!) so I purchased a tool called the Crop-A-Dile. It cuts through bookboard nicely and has two different sizes of hole punches. It also does other things like set eyelets and snaps. I really want the Crop-A-Dile II which is called the "Big Bite" as it will allow you to place a hole more than 1" from an edge. This is the only complaint I have about the first crop-a-dile, as it is limited punching a hole within one inch from the edge. You can also get a Japanese Screw Punch and this link takes you to one on Amazon. It's the most inexpensive one I've come across as they usually average $60. They're handy, especially for traveling.

The other essential tools:

Wax paper for placing between pages and cover when gluing so that the pages don't get all gunked up.

Sand paper for smoothing down rough edges on bookboard.

Brushes for gluing. I have several different sizes and I use them all. I also have not purchased a nice bookbinders glue brush as I tend to forget to wash them out and ruin them. So cheap brushes work great for me. 

Clamps- I use clamps when I'm gluing covers or trying to position a book or rounding a spine. I have a variety of sizes that are all used for different books.

Cutting Mat- You can buy a nice cutting mat that's 24" x 36" like mine is (thank you mom for the 50% off coupon to Robert's) or you can just use a piece of cardboard or extra bookboard as a cutting surface. 

And the last thing on my essentials list is a flea comb. Yes. I'm serious. We picked up a couple of these from our local Walmart. They happened to be in the clearance section for 50 cents (hooray!) so we picked up two of them. They are marvelous for thinning out the cords and fraying them to glue down. Before, I was using my needle and fingernails to separate and fray the cords. We moved from that to forks and we were using that until we came across the flea combs. I didn't want to spend a bundle on a metal brush for this so I'm so glad we found a very cheap alternative. I have no complaints yet about this awesome tool and ever since I have been using the comb, it's become essential. 

When I do classes, I provide a kit which includes a balloon, needle, awl, bonefolder, glue brush and sandpaper. I also bring my stash of nonserrated butter knives. 

To all the bookbinders, is there a tool that I did not mention that you find an essential part of your bookbinding toolbox?

Thursday, April 8, 2010

So much work and so little time!

It's difficult being a full time mom and a full time bookbinder. I have custom orders galore and not very much time to do them. This week I'll be finishing several though so you'll get to view a lot of really neat books in the next few days. Daniel and I worked on these yesterday:

They'll be used as groomsmen gifts and their names will be burned onto their unique book. I have yet to burn the names in as that will have to wait until the kids are asleep at night.

I'll also be working on a baby album, a wedding album and finishing Lori's books this week (so much to do and I'm sitting here blogging!)

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Selling Your Handmade Books: The Next Two Big Decisions

Tuesday is here again! For Big Decision #1- Check out Last Week's Post

Big Decision #2- How will you track your handmade books and sales?

If you're on hobby level and never picture yourself doing anything more than that, you might just want a little photo album in which you keep photographs or even just written descriptions of your books. This might seem silly or a little over-sentimental but any good artist knows that it is important to keep a portfolio. Even if it's just to give you a reminder of all the things you've made and how far you've come. This can also come in handy when you have someone unexpectedly drop by and ask to see your work. If you only have a few books half way finished, you'll find this photo album extremely useful. Make sure to keep the detailed information such as measurements of text block, cover, material used, the amount you sold it for, maybe who it went to and how long it took you to make it.

If you're on a side income or full time income level, make sure you're keeping track of your sales in a more formal matter. Spreadsheets are one way to keep track of your sales. We'll discuss this more in depth next week as we venture into the legalities of your business. For now, if you haven't already, you may want to start keeping track of some of these things:
  • Book Description (including materials used and dimensions)
  • Hours it took to create
  • Material costs
  • Price sold at
  • Date put on the market
  • Date sold
  • Profit
  • Unexpected Costs (discounts/sales, extra shipping charge)
  • Fees (Paypal, Etsy)
You might also want to keep track of other things such as 
  • Marketing Costs
  • Correspondence time with a customer
  • Research time finding a certain material for a book
  • Time packaging a book and going to the post office
Need a good spreadsheet to start out with? You can check out Etsy's Blog Post about Inventory Worksheets. While they don't cover everything, they're at least a start. 

Another great thing to keep track of is where your books go. I find that I sell a lot of my books to Oregon and Kansas and supplies end up heading to Ontario and Texas. This information might be great to use in marketing. If those places are where I sell best, I might want to list my books/supplies according to when people might be on Etsy in those time zones. 

Next week, I'll provide more resources for you to keep track of your business. For now, you need to decide what's important to keep track of. How much information do you want about each sale and each book that leaves your hands? 

Big Decision #3 - How much you'd like to profit from selling your books

This is partly based on your first big decision (what level you'd like to sell your books at), as well as your skill and/or experience level. It's also influenced by where you'd like to sell your books. We'll talk more about locations and such in the next few months, but for today we'll just focus on selling through Etsy.

Whether you are selling your books online, in art galleries or the local farmer's market, it is very important to price your books accurately. 

Last year, after finishing a custom order, I had tallied up my hours spent on a certain book and after taking out the cost of materials, fees from etsy, paypal and shipping costs, I realized I had made a measly $2 per hour on the book. Even if you are at hobby level, you'll likely want to be making more than $2 per hour on a book. Even if you LOVE making the book (as I did). I know some of you are thinking "But I'd be willing to make my books and even give them away." I understand this, but if you want an Etsy Shop, prices that don't adequately cover time put into the book puts a pinch on those selling to make a living. So, while not necessary to do so, pricing as if you were earning a living is a courtesy to them, and, even at hobby level, you want to make back enough money to continue to feed your creative ventures. Pricing as if you were making a living, or at least pricing so as to earn minimum wage on your time, will go a long way in allowing you to do more with your hobby.

When you price your books, you have to take many things into account. 
  • Material costs
  • Paypal fees
  • Etsy fees
  • Marketing fees
  • Time in correspondence with customer
  • Time researching materials for a certain book
  • Time creating the book
  • Time packaging the book and going to the post office
If you spend 5 hours making a book and sell it for $20, you are losing money, even at hobby level. I can't stress how important it is to keep track of the hours it takes you to create an item. Don't estimate either. Not unless you have occasionally kept track of the time by writing down your hours and you feel confident that you can "guess" at the time you've spent. I'm not able to guess. What I think will take me 15 minutes, will often take 50. 

No matter where you're selling your books, online or off, make sure you take into account what others are pricing their work at. When selling on Etsy, since there are constantly new people selling and everyone is at different levels, prices seem to be everywhere. When I first started on Etsy, I found a few shops that did fairly well selling their handmade books. I looked at the materials used, the styles being made and I looked at the average price for a particular sized book. This, in addition to considering my material cost, time, and fees, etc., helped me determine how much to sell my books at. I still continue to check on this every few months to make sure that I'm still selling my books at a competitive price. This way, I'm not cheating myself. Perhaps I can sell it lower, but if I see others are selling just as well at a higher price, that's even better. More money to feed a hobby, or my family, whichever my goal. If I can't see how a seller can possibly be selling at prices that seems low to me (and the seller is either a side income or full time bookmaker), it tells me I may need to evaluate my process (to get faster) or consider new suppliers (for lower material costs).

Keep in mind the extra expenses of selling: Etsy fees and Paypal fees, and if you do free shipping, make sure you take that into account as well (it's an expense you have to account for somehow).

A good resource for determining how much you're making on Etsy is the Etsy Fee Calculator created by Ryan Olbe. I use it all the time.

For larger books, or styles requiring more skill, I charge a little more per hour to compensate for the difficulty of creating the book.

If pricing seems overwhelming to you, try what I did and do. Pick a handful of successful Etsy shops that sell similar books (in style, material and size) and compare the prices. This will help give you a range of where you might want to price your books.

I'd love to hear how you keep track (or are planning on keeping track) of your handmade book sales. 

~Karleigh Jae