The first question you need to ask before you think about self-publishing a book is why you’re doing it. In other words, what’s your goal?
Are you doing this on a one-time basis? Are you producing a coffee table book? Are you publishing a book for a niche market or otherwise limited distribution?
Questions like these will help you decide whether to pursue ebook publishing as opposed to print publishing. Clearly, a coffee table book full of art photography wouldn’t translate very well into an ebook. An ebook just isn’t the best way to display National Geographic-quality photos, even though such photos could be digitized and made into an ebook. Choosing a format depends on several factors, including the following:
- Is the book primarily visual? (Photography books and illustrations with captions would seem better suited to the print medium.)
- Does the book have illustrations or photos that accompany substantial amounts of text? (Illustrations in ebooks work fine. At this stage, comic books are being released in ebook format.)
- What market do you want to reach? (Print books are anything but dead. Many readers, young and old, prefer them to ebooks.)
- Do you want to do book signings? (Call me out-fashioned, but if there’s a way to sign an ebook, it’s still not as special as actually signing/inscribing a print book.)
- Are you releasing the print book as an extra special edition or in large print for those who prefer that format?
These are just a few factors to consider when deciding on the formats in which to release your book.
Another question to ask yourself is how much time, effort and money you’re willing to put into marketing and promoting your book. The essential question is whether you are treating your writing venture as a career or a hobby. This is a crucial question. The answer will determine how much time and effort you’re willing to expend on actively promoting and marketing your work, as opposed to simply producing a book and making it available for sale on Amazon or any other distribution platform
As a self-published author, the chances of your book being carried in bookstores is quite slim without your personal intervention, so the less labor-intensive way to make book sales is online. As a new indie author, making print sales is more difficult than making ebook sales because ebooks can be more easily and cheaply distributed and bought. Therefore, ebooks are the most logical format in which new authors can self-publish (unless the above-mentioned factors make print the better option). However, before discussing ebook publishing, I’ll review the basics of print self-publishing in the next blog post.
If you’re interested in learning more about writing mystery fiction, plotting, and other topics, I plan to relaunch my plotting course. My mystery writing class is up and ready for your consumption. 🙂
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Olga Núñez Miret says
You’re right, Debbi. I think some non-fiction books, and definitely textbooks, usually work better on paper (although it might depend on how well they are formatted), as reading footnotes or end notes is less disruptive in paper, and workbooks definitely work better that way as well (but online activities are a good option).
Here, in Spain, bookshops will not accept books that have been published unless the ISBN used belongs to a publishing company, so although you have the option of buying your own ISBN (they won’t accept books with an Amazon free ISBN, for example), it won’t get your book into a bookshop. And most big book fairs don’t accept self-published authors, so unless you have some unique selling point or a lot of connections and a great marketing plan, it makes little sense to publish paperbacks as an independent author here. That’s why authors sometimes join together and create their own publishing companies, but it’s difficult to get into the big chains without having some good connections into the big distributors.
If you can get a faithful following and know they appreciate the option of buying a paperback, then it’s a different matter.
Thanks, Debbi. Keep safe.