This year I intend to publish print editions of all my ebooks. When I announced this to a couple of ebook author friends, they asked why I would take the time to do this. Here are my reasons.
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1. Print books still represent the majority of book sales. I think we, as ebook authors, tend to dismiss the dead tree world as a dying market. It may be declining, but it hasn't died yet. There are a great many readers who may have heard of you, but who will never be able to buy your book unless it's in print. I want to reach those readers too. Remember, the majority of the people in the US -- and abroad -- still don't read ebooks.
2. Fans ask for print books. I receive emails from fans who really love my books. Even though they have read them as an ebook, many have asked for a print book for their keeper shelves.
3. A print book doesn't cost anything to create, but time, if you do all the production work yourself. If you contract it out, then you'll have to budget for that. Many POD -- Print On Demand -- publishers "give" you the ISBN much as Smashwords gives you an ISBN. POD publishers offer templates on their websites that you can "plug" your manuscript into. They also offer cover templates. All the instructions, for every step of the way, are fairly easy to understand. If you want to DIY, and can follow instructions, then you can produce your print edition with a minimum of expense.
4. If you have print books, you can always carry one with you to show. When someone asks what you do, and you say you write, you can pull a copy out of your purse for an impromptu show and tell. Keep a stack at home on the coffee table. When someone visits, they'll want to know about it. That's handselling at its most basic. A print book is much more "real" as evidence than telling someone to go look for your ebooks online. Of course, you'll still tell them you can get ebook, audio, etc. (Better yet, hand out a print card of some kind that you always carry with your URLs on it -- website, blog, amazon author page, whatever gives you the most exposure.)
5. You can submit a print book for contests. Now that indie published can become PAN members on RWA (have you applied yet?), you'll see the contests being opened to indie books. Lots of contests everywhere. You can submit an actual book if they require that or you want to do it.
6. There's just something about seeing your book on your own bookshelf with a cover and your art and your name on that cover! Sometimes, when I'm feeling down, I look at the print books on my shelf. They are the symbol of all the hard work I've put into my career. If nothing else, I want a print book of my ebooks now to add to that bookshelf because my ebooks represent a heck of a lot of hard work.
With most POD publishers, you don't pay a dime -- if you do all the format yourself -- until you order a book. That's what separates them from the so-called vanity publishers who require you to pay enormous fees and "give" you X number of books in exchange.
I published Memory Lane, my Mom's memoir, with CreateSpace. I did it as a birthday present for her two years before she died. The book was for family, but each book gets a webpage when you publish with CreateSpace. Since they're owned by Amazon, you also get your book on Amazon, and it shows up on your Amazon Author Page. To my surprise, about 100 copies of this book have sold since it was published. Not a huge profit center, but surprising.
I'll provide a list of the most credible POD publishers the next time I write about Print Book Production for Writing Hacks.
More points of sale mean more sales.