Selling our Souls to eBooks

I know many people who swear that they’ll never read an eBook. They love the feel of turning actual pages between a thick hard cover. Something tangible they can hold in their hands.

But I also know a number of converts who once swore they’d never read an eBook, only to become a devotee.

So where does that leave us as self-published writers? Do we struggle to lay out the funds for a hard-cover book or simply upload our work into online publishing services like Smashwords, where our only expense is incurred when there’s a sale?

I don’t over-romanticize hard copy books. You don’t need coke-bottle glasses to see the writing on the wall for this hallowed medium. One day, and soon, eBooks will have the lion’s share of the market.

Why not embrace this fact and sell your work electronically? A good social media strategy can make your book stand out from the thousands upon thousands of other titles out there. The price point is attractive to readers as well. What’s $2.99 for a book?

Can’t sign an eBook? Maybe you can digitally sign a limited number of copies. Feel silly at a book event without a hard copy book? Sell coupons for downloads. There are lots of things you can do.

Who knows? You might just sell enough books to attract the attention of a traditional publisher (if that’s your goal). It’s happened before. But be warned: it’s much more the exception than the rule.

If you’re a writer, write. And if you’re a reader, keep reading. We need you!

Richard Todd is an author, blogger, and Social Media guy. Plus a few other things that get lost in the clutter. Visit him online at www.richard-todd.com.

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Author: Richard S. Todd

Pro copywriter. Expressive voice artist. Award-winning public speaker.

7 thoughts on “Selling our Souls to eBooks”

  1. Well there’s a happy medium called print on demand. Personally, that’s what my coauthor and I are looking into. Why pick one when you can hit both markets? I’m one of the “converts”-ish that you mentioned. If given the choice I still like a paperback (don’t care for hard cover) but since I write reviews for blog tours and authors often only give out ebooks, I’ve had to make the switch at least when I’m getting ARC copies.

    When Ermi and I publish, we’re both markets, ebooks and print on demand. We’re learning from recently published author Emlyn Chand who published Farsighted as an ebook first and then has a second launch date for the paperback.

    -Elia

    1. Hi Elia.

      Thanks for your comment. So to expand on your idea, one should consider starting with the eBook and reinvest the revenue earned into a POD paperback? Interesting!
      Starting with POD can be costly and there’s always a danger of not recouping your investment. This idea will help with that concern. Also, if you create enough buzz around your eBook you could have an audience already hungry for the paperback version. I like it – and you’ve given me an idea for another blog series.
      Thanks again!

      1. POD isn’t too bad if you’re not buying your own copies. If you have the skills to format your own book it can even be free. Ermisenda and I priced multiple places and if we combine Lulu for International customers and Amazon for US customers we could self publish two volumes of our novel (not including editing expenses) for $2500. That includes ISBN and LSBN. Now that might sound like alot but here’s the thing, if you want to publish something that people are willing to pay for, you’re going to need to spend the money to get it to the level of traditionally published books or suffer the stigma of self publishing.

  2. IMO, it depends on what your long-term goals are. I, for one, plan to self-publish several works, both in hardcopy and in e-book form, the first of which is a memoir, and I’m handling the whole process – setting up a publishing company as a sole proprietorship, and hiring professionals for cover design, editing, typsetting, indexing, printing, and distribution.

    My business acumen is what gives me the audacity to pursue this path without the fear of being intimidated by the seemingly insurmountable odds of being successful. You see, I’m not that concerned about becoming famous…if it happens, well then, great! If I recoup my out-of-pocket expenses, then as far as I’m concerned, I’m a success.

    Since we authors are responsible for promoting our work anyway(whether self-pubbed or tradtionally pubbed), guess who’s expected to handle that too? You got it! In addition to producing a printed book, (something I’ve always wanted to do to facilitate actually holding my creation in my hands), part of my marketing mix will include an e-book; one would be silly to ignore this steadily-growing, and if enough are sold, profitable market segment. We all know what happened to IBM when they ignored the Personal Computer market. On-line distribution is another animal entirely and has a bright future that every aspiring author should at least consider plugging into.

    POD is a viable option, except for the fact that the per-unit cost stays the same regardless of whether you print 1, 100, or 100,000 books, which could eat into your profit-margin over the long term. Offset printing is a numbers game – the higher the number, the less you pay per book up to about 10,000, at which point there are no additional cost savings to be realized.

    To summarize, we needn’t sell our souls to any one medium, for if properly exploited, one can capitalize on the combined strength of what all of them have to offer.

    My apologies for the rant, but that’s my two-cents worth.

    Best,
    Kevin

    1. Hi Kevin.
      It’s great to see you’ve done a lot of research and have a plan going in. Too many authors (such as myself) embark on this journey with stars in their eyes. But I’ve learned. I’m still learning.
      Todays’ authors need to have a whole new skill set than their predecessors (I’m trying to imagine Jack London concerning himself with taget marketing and community management). Not only do they have to be masterful storytellers, but they also need to be adept at technical tools involving social media and website maintenance. And that’s not to mention both online and live sales and marketing.
      At least self-pubbed authors are the masters of their own destiny and aren’t subject to a board of directors. You only have yourself to thank for your success. Unfortunately it works the other way as well.
      Thanks for posting!
      Richard

  3. I like books — period. I didn’t get the Kindle at first because it didn’t have the audible then. Now it does and I’ve got everything on it I like. But I like “real” books too. The problem is, there’s no more room for “real” books in my house. Go ahead just try to pry a book out of my hands. There is one book that was so bad I didn’t even finish it. But I couldn’t bring myself to toss it so it languished down behind a row of books of its ilk. I see no problem with self-publishing; I never could. It’s the standards of editing and formatting that will help change the tide on this issue, I think, as readers get tired of paying high prices for “traditional” publishers who often spurn excellent books because that script doesn’t “appeal” to that editor. Excuse me…there’s a whole reading public out here that just might LIKE that book. I have three former clients with scripts that are just outstanding but no traditional publisher wants them. Another fallacy new writers have to overcome is the notion that publishers will actually publicize your book if they accept it for publication. It’s a whole different world out there. New writers need to be educated in the new ways of doing things. Companies like Mind Stir Media, etc. have sprung up to fill the needs of writers (and readers) fed up with “tradition.” And frankly, this reader is sick of the established publishing houses too.

    1. I don’t blame you for feeling that way. It’s about time that readers dictate the market, not the publishers. We live in evolutionary times, that’s for sure.
      Thanks for the post!

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