Should Self-Published Authors Forget the Paperback and Focus on eBooks?

As the new reality in publishing continues to evolve, self-published authors are increasingly frustrated when they hit the proverbial self-published book marketing brick wall. The future couldn’t be more promising for authors in terms of producing marketable work since there are limitless choices for editing, publishing, cover design and other services. Unfortunately, once a book is ready for release, effective book marketing strategies are almost non-existent.Should Self-Publishers Avoid Hardcopy Books?Sales figures for self published eBooks are readily accessible. According to a study done in February, 2014, single-author publishers accounted for 14 percent of all eBook sales. While revenue to the author lags, authors who self publish should be encouraged that they are receiving significant exposure in the eBook market, which represents about 25 percent of all books sold. However, on the print side, self-published authors are barely making a dent. In fact, looking at the Nielsen Bookscan Top 500 every week would reveal that self-published paperback books account for less than one percent of the total bestseller listings.The reality that hardcopy self-published books are almost impossible to sell is primarily driven by printing costs and the lack of brick and mortar bookstore accessibility. For example, look at this snapshot in time for the following two book listings in the horror genre on Amazon:The Long Walk Kindle Editionby Stephen King (Author)4.1 out of 5 stars 1,364 customer reviewsSee all 15 formats and editionsKindle$9.99Paperback$10.35Mass Market Paperback$6.00The Suicide Society Paperback – March 24, 2015by William Brennan Knight (Author)4.7 out of 5 stars 9 customer reviewsKindle $2.99 to buyPaperback $15.63Self-published authors generally elect to use POD (print on demand) publishing options to reduce costs and produce books as they are sold. Conversely, established authors take advantage of offset printing technology to produce thousands of books in a single run. In this case, Stephen King, who already has an enormous following, can sell his new paperback book at $6.00 a copy while unknown Brennan-Knight must charge $15.63 to cover costs and make a small profit. Who do you think will win in that game?Publishing hardcover or paperback books for vanity and promotion may make sense, but it is only in the world of eBooks that the playing field is level. Back to our previous example: Stephen King wants $9.99 for the eBook version of his novel while Brennan-Knight wants $2.99. Would a 70 percent discount in price compel you to choose the Brennan-Knight book that currently has nine favorable reviews over the King book? Maybe and maybe not, but at least Brennan-Knight has given himself a fighting chance. Coupled with the lack of accessibility for self-published hardcover books at local bookstores and the disadvantages are overwhelming.eBooks sales seem to have settled in at a steady 25-30 percent of the entire market, although those figures only include sales reported by established publishers. In fact, some experts estimate the total eBook market at closer to 50 percent of all book sales. In any event, your book marketing efforts should focus almost exclusively on selling competitively priced eBooks as you strive to find an audience. Low-cost book marketing websites can help you gain the momentum required to raise your sales ranking on Amazon.

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How to Succeed at Self Publishing

You’ve written your book, had a friend look it over for errors, run it through your word processor’s spell check and created a cover on your publishing company’s website. You are ready to do battle in the bookstore. After all, your book is as good as any other book isn’t it? There’s no difference between one book and another.Surprise. There is a Difference. Three, Actually Sometimes a self-published book succeeds beyond anyone’s wildest dreams. These stories are told over and over, helping to induce millions of writers to flood the subsidy publishing companies with their books, trying to get a piece of the publishing pie.But unless you’ve managed to find a niche that no one else has ever written about, or you have the only book in the world on parachute folding, or you are the next J.K. Rowling, your book will have a tough road ahead of it. Why?You are being outclassed on every front by your competition, that’s why. Here are three reasons you will be buried by the established trade publishers using the “Old Model” of publishing.

They have better quality. Guess what? People do recognize differences in quality. At Old Model Publishing, they are able to anticipate sales of several thousand copies for even their most modest offerings. Consequently, they have printed their book by offset. They may have used a unique size and format that can’t be replicated by digital printing. They might have cover finishes and paper stock that are simply unavailable to you. Customers see this, and you look worse by comparison.

They have professionals working on their books. Over at Old Model, editors, designers, cover designers, and proofreaders who have spent their careers learning their craft are working on their books. They bring years of experience and knowledge to bear on every project. Even though Old Model may not do as good a job as they once did, they are still light years away from you and the amateurs who have helped you get your book ready.

They have a better economic model. You thought you were clever to try to compete with your print on demand distribution model, and were happy you didn’t have to lay out a cent to get your book into print. You thought that this was the new, the modern, the twenty-first century way to publish, and that those old fogies haven’t caught up yet. But their offset-printed book costs them one-third what you are paying for your book. They can price you out of the market without breaking a sweat.
Help is On The WayYou will get hammered in the market if you don’t revise your plan. To be competitive, you will have to fight fire with fire. How to minimize your competitive disadvantage?

Hire professionals. Part of the collateral damage from the economic difficulties book publishers are experiencing are the many people who have been laid off by Old Model publishers. Lucky for you. They are now available as freelancers to work on your book, bringing all that same expertise to bear.

Consider your strategy. Think about your aims. If you are dead serious about trying to get national distribution into bookstores, you will almost have to print offset. You need both the inventory on hand to ship to distributors and wholesalers, as well as the leverage of low unit pricing to make the whole chain of discounting work without an inflated retail price

Don’t try to do it all yourself. Authors who decide to self-publish need to realize that self-publishing does not mean you do everything yourself. To succeed against these Old Model publishers, you have to treat your operation as a business. You should be spending your time writing and marketing your book, not trying to figure out why Microsoft Word keeps changing your page endings every time you save your file.
You Can Compete. But You’d Better Be Smart About ItIt’s possible today to retain the editors, book designers, cover designers, and proofreaders to make your book equal to any book on the market. If you treat it as a business, with the clear motive to make a profit, you will find the professionals you need to help you succeed.If your aim is to create a book for your personal use, or to leave as a family history, or to collect recipes for a fundraiser, you can safely ignore all of the advice I’ve given you above.But if you aim to compete, to establish and run a business that publishes your books, do with seriousness of intent. Commit the time, energy, education and resources to make your book truly the equal of anything else on the market.Turn Your Strengths to Your AdvantageIn fact, you can turn this situation to your advantage. By creating a well-edited, attractively-designed and intelligently marketed book, you can act a lot faster than the Old Model publishers. This becomes your competitive advantage when you realize the power of being able to react to events faster than your competition.And if your aim is to attract a contract from Old Model, your top-quality book could become your best calling card. If you’re largely concerned with sales, know that when your ideal customer stops at the table in Border’s, they won’t hesitate to pick your book up. And you can take that to the bank.

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