Paperback or Ebook? How to get the most out of your book content
Even if your idea is to see your hard work appear in a printed format, it has become increasingly important to also sell your published work as an ebook. While having a physical copy of a book is always desirable—there is no denying that—nowadays, success is often defined by the number of copies sold, and you are much more likely to sell ebooks online than you are to sell printed ones in a physical bookstore.
There are many reasons why selling ebooks is beneficial to the indie author:
- it saves costs on print and shipping
- readers have direct access to the content from wherever they are in the world
- you can sell overseas without any additional costs
- and you can do it all from your desk at home.
This is not to say that print books are worthless. On the contrary! If you have a specific reason behind going print (e.g. they are what your particular niche of readers expect from you, or you want to have them as handouts at certain types of large events), they can be a great idea. However, with the majority of indie authors’ success coming from online book sales, going this route is a no-brainer. With the ebook market in the US, Canada, UK and Australia being considered “mature,” and other countries moving in the same direction, it is no surprise that 90% of indie authors decide to go solely with ebook distribution, and that a majority of authors find more success this way than by using a more traditional distribution source.
Creating an ebook out of your content doesn’t have to be difficult at all. There are many different services out there that can help you format your content into the appropriate file for the platform(s) you are publishing on. I would recommend checking out Createspace, BookBaby, Pronoun (formerly Vook) and Smashwords. I recently also discovered a service called PublishXPress which easily converted my .doc into an .epub, and then used Pronoun to publish for free on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Kobo, iBooks, and Google Play, with my only cost being the purchase of the ISBN.
While the easiest option may seem the most interesting to you, I do recommend asking yourself the following questions before you select a service, as you don’t want to end up losing time and money that a little thorough research could save you in the long run.
- Where is your e-book distributed?
E-book marketplaces don’t always come in the form of one-size-fits-all. You want to be sure that the channel, outlet, or e-retailer where your book is available attracts the kind of readers suited to your brand of literature.
- Can you make changes to your e-book after it goes on sale?
A benefit of digital literature, compared to “hard” literature, is the fact that it can evolve over time. You may be the kind of author who considers their output as good as written in stone. But if you’re the type who appreciates post-editing, you’ll want to be sure you’re well accommodated.
- Do you control the price?
If you’re a first-time seller, it may be interesting to let someone else work out the pricing for you. However, if you’ve been around the block a few times, no one will know better what your readers are ready to pay than you.
- What is the fee structure? Is there an upfront fee? What is the royalty structure?
It’s not necessarily that one structure is better than another, or that certain structures are fraudulent–you’re just better off being aware beforehand and avoiding any surprises.
- What file formats are accepted?
After you have written your ebook in Microsoft Word, Pages, or Scrivener you may need to convert the file so it can be read on a digital device (typically to .mobi or .epub). Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP) allows many formats to make it easier on authors, but not all publishing platforms accept this many file types.
- Who owns the ebook files after they are created?
This is a big one. As a budding author, you need to tread carefully here. As an experienced indie author, you probably already know what to do. If ever in doubt, just know this: if you’re ever putting yourself in position to surrender rights, you’d better be getting something awfully valuable in exchange. Otherwise, stick to the game plan and make your own way, with your digital rights firmly in hand.
The process may seem a little daunting at first, but it is a lot easier and more cost-effective than distributing print, and the benefits cannot be overlooked. If you have found a specific service or method that works well for you, I would love to hear about it!
— Marquina (@Marquina) January 3, 2017