Eric Makes an Ebook: 8 – What Do You Mean ‘I Need a Print Version’ ?

This is the end of the Ebook Questions, and it is appropriate to release this last post in December.

Waaaay back in February/March 2018 I decided to try self publishing, and I have learned a ton of things this year.  I have sold alot of books. I started this website. And I made a tremendous amount of horrible mistakes. It was a good year.

Some of those mistakes will be laid out in future blog posts. Others will never be mentioned. A few resulted in hundreds of wasted dollars, and one required a trip to the emergency room because my hand was stuck in a mayonnaise jar (just kidding).  But despite it all, it was a good year.

One thing I learned about Ebooks, is that alot of people don't want them. They want paper books. They want to read your stuff, but don't want to look at their cellphones.  If you are a real author, you'd have real books, they say. Ebooks are not real books.

Now, you can be a ridiculous business owner and try to convince your customers to not to want what they want.

OR: You can give the readers what they want. They want print books. So this post is about giving readers what they want.

Just to remind you, we are moving through our ebook questions and have arrived at number 9. 

Ebook Questions For Smart Beginners

  1. Who sells ebooks besides Amazon? Kobo, BN, Tolino, Apple, Smashwords and Draft2Digital; + lots of other places
  2. How much does it cost?   All companies work on consignment. So the upfront cost is free.
  3. Do I need a bank account, EIN or DBA?  Yes you need a bank account and it's easier if  you keep a separate business account.
  4. Do I need a ISBN?  Mostly not. Not for Amazon, but other top vendors do require an ISBN. Luckily, distributors such as Smashwords will give you one for free. To control my book's message, here's why I did buy ISBNs.
  5. Do I need copyright?YES you should but you don't have to. You need to read this book to understand copyright. But get legal advice if the word "contract" is mentioned.
  6. Do I have the rights to my work? You control copyright until you sign it away in a contract. Thank you founding fathers!
  7. What about previously published work? Find Contracts! Most contracts purchase First Rights for a limited period of time. So usually, you retain reprint rights.
  8. How do you format an ebook?   MS Word and patience.
  9. Do I need a print book? Yes you do Christopher Robin. You do need a print book.


How to Know if You Need A Print Version

For each genre the division of sales between ebooks and print books (and audio books) is going to vary.  Author Earnings has a good breakdown of print vs ebook sales here: 

You can make two assumptions however:

  • creating a print book requires a certain cost to you (in terms of time if you go with Amazon, or in terms of time and money if you go with IngramSpark).
  • some readers will want a print version

So is the extra effort worth it?

I think it's important to research your genre, and to understand what format your readers expect. Are you writing mysteries? You probably want a print version. Are you writing erotic romance? You can get away with just ebooks.

The important thing is to research your genre and understand the tradeoffs, and that you might be missing out on potential readers by not offering them what they want. Then again, print books are a pain in the ass to put together.

Then again (again?) with the advent of Print-on-Demand you don't have to buy 500 copies and store them in your garage. They are created when someone orders them. So there is not a huge outlay of capital to start this process. The cost of everything is a piece of your life.


Places to Create your Print Book

The two places that will create your print version are Amazon KDP and IngramSpark. Despite what you may have heard, both offer expanded distribution* to multiple sales channels. Both take a certain percentage of your sales, and IngramSpark charges a fee for the pleasure of using their service. The main difference between these two is the % each charges for each sale, and the cost of making changes to the book. Some claim that one has higher quality printing than the other, but I honestly don't know.

The "expanded distribution" means that your book can be ordered by any bookstore or library (not that it will be ordered or stocked, but that it CAN be ordered or stocked). Both Amazon and Ingram Spark allow this. It also allows the print version to be sold online. That is important to understand. With expanded distribution your print book will be sold at and likely it won't be sold at an actual BN store (though they can order it for a reader). If you sell your book exclusively at Amazon (and don't check the expanded button), then the print book can only be sold at Amazon.

How To Do It

  1. Choose a company to make your book.
  2. Choose a trim size (book size) - I went to the library and measured similar books with a ruler. Yes. I am a nerd.
  3. Download a template for a book of that trim size (Amazon has this for free). Then choose a font, and lay out your book. Now you should know your page count.
  4. Select paper color and cover finish.
  5. Download a cover template for a book of your selected trim size AND your page count. The spine of the book has to be the right width.
  6. Create your cover, proof your book, and you can have a completed book!
  7. Order samples of your book so you can see what it actually looks like. I would plan on 1-2 months of doing this before your print book looks the way you think it should.

The hardest part is your cover. You'll have to know the page count first, so that you have the right spine thickness for the cover. And if you bought an ebook cover, you may have to pay extra to get a print cover made. Amazon KDP has a neat cover template you can use once you know the page count of your book. But it's still pretty frustrating.

Also, to be honest, #3 and #6 can take a while. Font choices, margin choices, chapter headings, all take time. If you want to hire someone else to do this work for you, it is probably worth your money to do so. Or hunt down really good templates, and don't deviate from them. Just keep it simple.


The End of Ebook Beginners

So as you can see, I put off writing this post for a reason. Making a print book is long and complicated, and perhaps not worth the effort. It really depends on your audience. Do they want a print book?

If so, then you know what you have to do next. Give them what they want.


Copyright (c) 2018 E.C. Stever

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