Monday, July 29, 2013

Why You Should Definitely Create a Paperback for Your eBook

I've observed, recently, that some authors don't bother creating paperback versions of their books. This surprised me, especially given that they were publishing in standard genres and not something that might merit such discretion (ie, erotica). Apparently, they felt that there wasn't enough potential for sales from that format to warrant the time needed to create the paperback file. While I’ll admit that some investment of time (and probably a little bit of $) is necessary, I’m still a bit boggled at the idea of not making the effort. I mean, if you were selling T-shirts, you wouldn't produce only one size. So, why would you not take advantage of a potential revenue stream by producing your book in only one format?

Because, gosh darn it, I'm worth it! ;)
My first novel (Multiples of Six) is now available in 3 different formats, thanks to recent work with ACX. And, while the audiobook was a bit of a bonus effort, I never had a doubt about creating the paperback version. In a world where ebooks are beginning to dominate, there is still a significant traditional readership market to be had. It might just be a matter of going out and getting them the old fashioned way, but that’s part of the fun!

I've probably given away as many paperbacks as I've sold. I’m hoping that changes this fall, but I won’t hold my breath. It’s not a big deal. To me, the paperback is a marketing tool for the independent author. It’s a means with which to put something tangible in readers’ hands. Some people need that. Some people need to see that stack of paper and the accompanying look in your eye that says “I've crafted something that I think you’ll like.” Only then are they willing to give it a shot.

There’s something also very personal about having a paperback copy of your book created. Sure, it sniffs a bit of the old vanity presses, but today's self-publishing is a completely different animal. You're an entrepreneur now. You worked hard to get where you are. And, even if you can count on two hands the number of paperbacks you've sold in two years (like I can), it’s a physical memento of what you've accomplished. It’s your trophy. That’s how I treat it, at least. I don’t expect anyone else to give me one, so I made one for myself.

Personally, I use CreateSpace for my paperbacks. While there is some monetary outlay at the beginning (cover creation, ISBN), additional cost is entirely up to the author. You can purchase copies at a significant discount and in any quantity you desire. My paperback is listed at $12.95 through Amazon and B&N and they regularly discount that at 10%. However, I can purchase for <7$, which allows me to discount the retail price and still make a little bit in the end. The quality is good, the shipping is usually timely, and their affiliation with Amazon makes it simple to link with the ebook.

If not publishing in multiple venues (eg, other than Amazon) is leaving money on the table, then publishing in a single format should be considered the same. In order to maximize your opportunity for income, you should leave no stone unturned. If you're on the fence about paperbacks, go for it. You'll be happy you did and you'll have a nice addition to your bookshelf.

I think the more formats, the better. What say you?


  1. Funny, I was actually uploading files to CreateSpace when I saw this post on my blog's ticker. And I wholeheartedly agree. My feeling is print copies are mandatory. The most difficult aspect of being a writer today is discoverability, and if it's not good for anything else (though it is), a print version of one's book(s) gives you at least one more placement on Amazon. I don't sell a lot of print books, but since I started publishing those books, my e-book sales have improved. Personally, I don't think that's an accident.

  2. Another writer gave me this article as i have been asking myself this question-- to create in paper or not. Your article is the final straw convincing me it is worthwhile and maybe not just for the historicals yet to come out but the contemporaries already available on Kindle.

  3. I don't think you'll be disappointed, Rain!