OLD POST ALERT! This is an older post and although you might find some useful tips, any technical or publishing information is likely to be out of date. Please click on Start Here on the menu bar above to find links to my most useful articles, videos and podcast. Thanks and happy writing! – Joanna Penn
Last year, I decided to give up on print publishing as an indie author, but I have just received a new copy of Pentecost (now STONE OF FIRE) in print and I wanted to share with you why I have returned to printing.
[2020 – Click here for an updated version of How to Self-Publish a Print Book]
Watch the short video below [~9 mins] or here on YouTube.
Here's my article on why print is vanity publishing and why I went ebook only. I still think authors should consider going ebook first.
Why I am returning to print again
- Book groups, fans, family and friends all want a print copy (plus my ego likes it!)
- Price comparison on Amazon means the ebook looks like a great deal
- I'm not pursuing traditional publication of the ARKANE series anymore (although I am pursuing a deal with another series through my literary agent), so I now want to exploit all rights. I will also be doing audio this year.
- The books are “stable” meaning the ebooks have been through a few iterations and rewrites, typo fixing etc. Plus my own fiction platform and brand is now established at JFPenn.com and I wasn't clear on that when I first published in Feb 2011.
- When I started with print, when I just had one book out, I ended up selling 95% ebooks and very few print anyway. I didn't have a big enough audience and it didn't justify the design costs back then. BUT/ now I have 3 ebooks and the print design is paid for by the ebook sales.
- Go ebook first and then do print once your book and brand have ‘settled down'. Give it at least 6 months so you can see whether you are making enough in sales.
- Use print-on-demand through Createspace.com or LightningSource.com. This is when books are printed and shipped to the customer when they are ordered, and you don't need to buy a huge batch upfront. Printing thousands of books upfront is one of the top mistakes of indie authors. Don't do it unless you are a speaker or have an existing distribution method.
- Use professionals for interior and cover design. I recommend Joel at TheBookDesigner.com, Derek Murphy of CreativeIndie and JDSmith Design.
Find out more about my fiction at JFPenn.com : Ancient Mystery, Modern Thrill.
You can now buy Pentecost in print at Amazon.com here, or at Amazon.co.uk here
What have you learned through doing print? What recommendations do you have?
Please leave your thoughts in the comments below.
L.W. Patricks says
Insightful post! My launch is in March 13, 2013 for my first book and was considering doing both print and ebook for the reason of value, where the ebook is cheaper than print. However one of the worst things I can think of is having someone purchase my printed book and there’s typos that I missed…(for some reason, typos are like silent ninjas..even when you think the coast is clear, they strike out of nowhere).
Congrats on all your success by the way, you’re an amazing resource during this learning process =)
It’s really just as easy to update a print book. Correct your typo, generate a new PDF, upload to Createspace. Takes about 5 minutes. Finding the typos is the hard part.
Joanna Penn says
It depends on whether you use a professional interior formatter, as I do. So easy enough, but not 5 minutes. Plus you need to approve the new output, and some people do that through ordering a print book. It’s nowhere near as easy as updating an ebook.
Good advice. I’ve never understood the “drop print books” mentality. It’s another source of revenue. Some people want print books and probably always will. Why limit your sales? Print layout is not all that difficult, and once it’s done that book is up for sale indefinitely. Ebook-only authors are selling themselves short.
Rosalie Marsh says
An interesting discussion. I have always seen the economic sense in POD and resistance by large booksellers should fade as more and more large organisations go down that route. For my second book – we got the a Kindle format ‘out there’ while working on the print for release for a few months later. This genre if NF biographical travel writing.
For the following two NF of a different genre (Lifelong Learning Personal Effectiveness) we planned for print, Kindle and *pdf e-Book (LS-Ingram) to come out together. After much deliberation we went to e-Book distributor Smashwords in 2012 for the ePub formatting of all three titles, although they in fact convert to nine formats one being ‘mobi which can be downloaded to Kindle from Smashwords. The reasoning behind this was the shipping to major eBook retailers of ePub such as Apple, Kobo, Sony, Nook, Diesel, Blio and now to Page Foundry (which have an e-reader on all new ASUS computers) and other Library services. The list is growing. Of course they have to pass the auto and manual vetting to get into the Premium Catalogue first. Apple then carry out their own vetting so it is a real achievement to see our titles in the iBookstore.
The first book published elsewhere has now been reformatted to tie in with the series and was published in print and three e-Book formats at the same time. The further two NF Lifelong Learning books were published in all formats last year.
e-reading devices are growing in the UK. B&N Nook are now available from major retailers and some booksellers with a dedicated UK Nook digital book store. WHSmith e-bookstore is Kobo and you are re-directed to the Kobo site. Kindle is on sale in Waterstones. iPad is freely available.
I took part in a Webinar some time ago Joanne where you were on the panel with Dana Lynn Smith and others. eBooks were the main focus and the outcome was to go for as wide a reach as possible. As the gentleman above says “Why sell yourself short?”
We believe that our strategy of covering all avenues is sound. Of course it means four different conversion with different submission guidelines and four ISBN’s. Distribution is worldwide for a much smaller fee that Create Space appear to be charging.
Grace Brannigan says
Hi Joanna. Love getting your newsletter in my inbox. I’m wondering at what point you thought your eBooks had settled? Did you decide by $ amount or # of copies sold each month, and what was that? I started with one book in May and I’m currently up to 9 romances. It’s been steady eBook growth, right now I’m selling about 110 eBooks a month and have been thinking about print copies. For romances, anyone have any input on best size using Createspace? Thanks in advance.
Joanna Penn says
After the initial publication of Pentecost I had a few emails about typos and also a technical error that wouldn’t have been picked up by anyone but an astronomer 🙂 so I fixed everything in the ebook files and re-uploaded. I also wanted to re-edit after 2 years of improving my craft, so I’m happy that’s done too. I think the definition of “settled” is up to you, but now you have 9 books I would assume you know what you’re doing 🙂
With one novel when I first released Pentecost, I don’t think I did!
For shorter books, which romances fit into, I think the smaller sizes work best – I was unhappy with 6×9 and like 5×8 – check out the Mills & Boon sizing since they are small.
Grace Brannigan says
Nice to see your are back into the print books again, as you know I prefer print. Never liked the eBooks, even if they are cheaper. Plus, reading on a device affects my sleeping patterns (as does working on a computer, for that matter). But I see the point about starting out with the eBooks and graduating later on to the print version. Although I might have to make a few print books in the beginning of my novel, so I can at least SEE it and TOUCH it and READ it. 🙂
Now that Lightning Source is turning away indies and insisting they need to use Ingram Spark (where they want your ebooks too) is there any other options besides Createspace for doing POD?
Thank you so much for that fabulous review. I am a new author and the self publishing company that I chose to publish my first work was trying to tilt me in the direction of purchasing a gang load of books for print tomorrow. My inner sense whispered that this was not the proper move and your timely comments confirmed those thoughts.
Again thank you so much,
Jay Brian says
What a great post you have here. I’m not a writer but a designer. I mostly specializes in book cover designs and I was wondering if I could get the answer to this question some of my client (new authors especially) always ask me. ‘How to publish printed copies’. Since I love to assist my client and new authors in the best way I can, I’d be grateful f you could share thought on this.
Hoping to hear from you.