There are now vast legions of new authors who are published in eBook form only. Self-publishing allows an author to publish their manuscript directly to distributors such as Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Apple Store, Kobo, and Smashwords for use on one or more reading devices. All of these will handle eBook versions, Amazon and Barnes & Noble can handle print books as well. But there are other markets where print gives you an edge over eBook. Should you consider publishing to print?
There are still a large number of people who like the feel and smell of an ink on paper book in their hands. Many prefer eBooks for novels but paper books for reference materials. So if you write non-fiction, you need to be considering paperback at least. Book discussion groups also tend to favor paperbacks.
Brick and mortar book stores and libraries specialize in print books – where most of these do not handle eBooks. Yet. Distributors can use price comparisons between print books to make them appear attractive, price-wise.
But, rushing out to produce a paperback book to coincide with or follow closely on the heels of your eBook is not a great idea for several reasons.
You are certain that your newest work will be a smash hit and best-seller. But what if you’re wrong? Testing the waters with the eBook version allows you to check the market – and make some profits – before spending money on a print version.
Test by Fire
If you have hired a professional editor for your manuscript, the resulting book should be high quality and error free. If, however you self-edited, there will be some foibles to correct. Your initial reviewers and feedback from readers will undoubtedly point these out to you. When the dust settles a bit, (3 to 6 months after release) fix the ones you can fix, re-release the eBook and use the improved manuscript for the paperback.
These days there is no reason to hire a vanity press for most printed books: this will cost you big bucks because of minimum print run requirements, transportation and storage for thousands of copies of your book. It is far better to use a Print On Demand (POD) printer such as Createspace or Lightning Source.
POD printing produces a high quality product and the books are printed – as the name implies – only as the books are sold; no need to have cases of books shipped to you and stored. Instead they are printed and shipped directly to your buyer.
If you select Createspace, you will be marketing your book primarily through Amazon. You may purchase copies at a reduced price (basically you don’t pay yourself the royalty) for use in self-marketing events like book signings, writers conferences, talks at your local library, and other personal appearance opportunities.
Because Createspace does not allow returns of unsold books and does not offer the deep wholesale discounts that all physical book stores require, chances of getting your book into books store or libraries is almost nil. But this is not an easy task in any case, and there are significant financial risks involved in dealing with book stores.
Lightning Source is the go-to printer for nearly all author assistance services such as Lulu, Author House, Outskirts Press, Book Baby, Booklocker and others. Most of these assistance services do not tell you they don’t actually print the books you hired them to print; they sub-contract that out to Lightning Source. Booklocker’s Author’s Guidelines are upfront about this industries “dirty little secret”.
Lightning Source will meet the terms needed to offer your books to book stores, libraries and on-line retailers. Be aware that fee’s for print books being returned from a bookstore can seriously eat into (or eliminate) your profits. Make sure you have a robust marketing plan laid out to drive customers to the bookstores to purchase your book.
A print version of your book can open new marketing frontiers, if your book is ready and you have a marketing plan in place. How you plan to market the print version will decide for you who will be the printer of choice.