Ebook versus print publishing—which should you choose for your novel?
In the old days of traditional publishing, a print book would be released first, often a hardback, followed later by a less expensive paperback (mass market or trade paperback). Some books were only published in paperback. With the onset of electronic publishing, ebooks were added to the list, released after the hardback had been out for a while, often going on sale at the same time as the mass market paperback.
But is that publishing order still valid now in this technologically-driven world? What is right for your novel? Do you need to publish your book as an ebook? What about just publishing an ebook and forgoing the print as many small publishers are doing these days?
Why Publish an Ebook?
Our first advice is to always, always publish an ebook version of your novel, regardless of whether you are an indie author or are publishing with a traditional publisher. Why do we suggest always publishing your novel as an ebook? Here are some very compelling reasons.
Ebooks are easier and cheaper to buy
Ebooks are easy to buy, since consumers can receive them immediately with a click of a button. They are often (not always) cheaper because there is no paper, ink printing, or shipping involved. The easy buying and the lower cost translate into more sales. That’s great for all of us!
Ebooks are simpler and cheaper to produce
Ebooks are simple to format because you don’t have to control line and page breaks and slave over “widow and orphans” as you do for a well-designed print book. Ebook software is also usually cheaper than print creation software and has a smaller learning curve for new users. You can format and upload in a matter of hours. You might even get that first sale before you go to bed.
Many people prefer ebooks
We all are very busy, and it is easier to carry around a Kindle, a Nook, or even just a phone to pull out and read for a few minutes than to carry around a book. Besides the convenience of having hundreds of books on one small device, many people now prefer reading on a screen to reading a physical book. You don’t have to be going blind to appreciate the ability to size the text!
What about print books?
Now, if you’re just starting out and don’t have the money to pay someone to typeset your book for print, it’s okay to just publish an ebook. It should do well enough (if it’s well-written and edited), especially if you do a few promotions through sites like Book Cave. But keep in mind that while many people prefer an ebook versus print, and some have no preference, there are others who will only read in print. Is it okay to ignore that market?
In addition to reaching that other part of your market, your book will also appear more professional to consumers when it is available in multiple formats. So it’s not question of ebook versus print, but rather a matter of each boosting the other.
Publishing a print book doesn’t have to be expensive. In traditional publishing, the publisher sells books to the bookstores, who then sell the books to their customers. That’s great if you have a publisher, but most indie authors don’t have the resources to approach scores of bookstores themselves. The good news is that millions of books are purchased online through stores like Amazon and Barnes & Noble, and you can reach thousands of readers with “print-on-demand” books for only the cost of getting your manuscript typeset.
To sum up the ebook versus print question . . .
Regardless of who you’re publishing with, always publish your manuscript as an ebook. If you have additional resources, publish it as a print-on-demand book as well.