Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Advantages to Having Your Self-Published Book in Print

By Elizabeth S. Craig, @elizabethscraig

When I first self-published a couple of years ago, it really never occurred to me to put out print copies of the books.  I felt print was on its way out, and that it might be expensive to publish a printed copy. Plus, I wasn’t sure exactly how to go into print.
But soon after e-publishing the first of my books, I started receiving emails from readers asking about getting the Myrtle books in print.  Some of the readers sounded rather put-out with me.  “I know digital is The Thing right now,” said one, “but I will never buy an e-reader. Never. Even though I would like to read your books.”  That’s when I decided to reassess my decision.
Benefits to print:
Some readers mentioned preferring print to digital when gift-giving.  They like having something to wrap and present to their friend.
Popular reader site Goodreads only allows printed books to be part of their giveaways.  And giveaways frequently mean reviews.
Another benefit is that the ebook price for your book looks like a real deal when the print price is a good seven or more dollars higher.
And, as mentioned earlier, some readers don’t want to read ebooks.
After doing a little research, I discovered that it was actually free to upload to CreateSpace and publish to Amazon, aside from formatting and cover design, of course (and some of you might be adept enough to tackle those things yourself).  Uploading the files was an extremely simple process. Most writers choose to go through Lightning Source or CreateSpace.   Jen Talty with Cool Gus wrote a nice post last year about their decision to choose CreateSpace.
I didn’t have much time, so I paid folks to help me with the formatting to print and paid someone to create a full cover with spine and back, based on my ebook cover.  After the print copies released, I’d recouped that money within two months.   This, obviously, will vary.  Are your ebook sales strong?  Have you gotten any requests from readers for your book to be in print? Those points can indicate if it’s worthwhile to invest money in pursuing print.
Author copies of my books (which retail to readers on Amazon for $10.99) are only $3.41 apiece (my books are fairly short), plus the price of shipping.  Not a bad price for promo copies.  The nice thing is that we can pay for and print books as we need them—we don’t have to store a couple of hundred copies, that may never sell, in our closet. 
The one-time investment in formatting and cover design has paid off.  Now I feel as if I’m connecting to readers who wouldn’t otherwise be reading my books.  The CreateSpace sales have provided steady income since early summer.
If you’re self-published, are your books available in print?  Did you format the text and cover yourself, or hire someone?  Has the investment in time and money paid off?