Choosing to self-publish an e-book over a print book

CIMG1036When I first decided to self-publish, the obvious choice to me was to do an electronic book. E-books are inexpensive – no press costs, no worry about storage, inventory or shipping.

But I admit it would be nice to hold my own book, feel the smooth cover or the pages as you flip through it. And it would be awesome to see it on an actual bookstore shelf.

Nowadays, you don’t need a contract with a big publishing house or even a vanity press to have a hardcover or paperback version of your novel. Amazon’s Createspace and other companies allow you to easily have a print-on-demand book.

But still as I looked into printing a book, as a new self-published author, I couldn’t justify the cost of having a printed book and decided an e-book was a better choice.

Some of the pros of doing an e-book:

  • Easier to format than print books.
  • Once your book is written and edited, you can have it published & selling at a major store like Amazon in as little as two days.
  • Low cost with a high royalty amount (anywhere from 35 to 70%).
  • E-books are easy for readers to download and begin reading instantaneous.
  • E-books are extremely popular with 50% of people owning an e-reader device according to the Pew Research Center report in January 2014. And they are growing in popularity as the same company reported just four months earlier that only 43% of people had an e-reader.
  • E-books save trees.

The biggest con of ONLY publishing an e-book is that not everyone has an e-reader so your market is reduced from the start.

By having a physical copy of your book, you can then realize your dream of seeing YOUR book on the shelf of the bookstore. But as a self-published author, the chance of that happening will be very low as most brick and mortar stores aren’t giving much space to self-published, unknown authors.

Offering your book in a print form through such programs as Amazon’s Createspace can seem like a good idea. There is no inventory to worry about and someone else does the printing and shipping for you. But putting together a professional-looking book can cost you more and the royalties you make are much lower than on an e-book.

Of course, my biggest peeve with people who offer their paperbacks through a POD service is the price of the end book. These paperback books are usually priced higher than books from a traditional publishing house. In fact, many times I have seen prices ridiculously high for an unknown self-published author to expect anyone other than friends and family to buy. I don’t even pay $8 for a known author, I am not going to pay $12 and certainly not $29 for a first-time book.

I read on another blog that on average only 100-150 copies of a self-published print book sell and 2/3 to 3/4 are to friends and family. They didn’t list a source, but this is probably pretty accurate for many self-published authors.

Obviously, I have not gone the print a book route but there are many self-published authors that offer both print and e-book formats. New authors really need to evaluate and decide if a print copy is necessary. Are there readers out there who will make it worth the investment? Is my target audience more likely to buy paperbacks or an e-book? Only you can answer those questions. For me, right now, I am satisfied with just offering an e-book.

One thought on “Choosing to self-publish an e-book over a print book

  1. […] that it will be up to you whether you want to self-publish or go the other way and look for a traditional publishing […]

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