Today on Real Talk: Paperbacks.
When I developed a passion for writing, I could not foresee what the publishing industry is like today. My vision was always to hold a book in my hands, feel the pages against my fingertips, and smell the fresh ink. It was always to see my name on the cover and read my words behind the pages. And more so, allowing others to take part in this journey by having them to read my words. With eBooks trending, it is no question what the increase and development of technology has done for authors. In short, Self-Publishing would not be where it is today. So it is without question that eBooks and Amazon Kindle has changed the game. However, I read something today that disturbed me a little bit. In one of the Facebook Writing Groups in which I am a part of, a writer was seeking advice on Book Promo. His question had to do with promoting his paperback book. One of the commenters told him he should do away with his paperback and stick to eBook only. Obviously, there is more money in the eBook game.
I do not believe this and I also do not believe this person’s advice is very wise.
As I always say, advice is subjective. It’s always personal. You can take it or leave it because not all of it may apply to you and not all of it is true. However, when it comes to advise or tips about someone’s career path or livelihood, I believe its important to know what you’re talking about. So in this case, it would have been more wise to tell the person (as many people did) to have BOTH an eBook AND paperback version of his book than to say to just do away with the hard-copy.
Many Self-Publishers underestimate the power of hard-copy in this digital world and I do think it is to our disadvantage. The truth is that the paperback has potential to earn you more money than your eBook. The reason is because there’s diversity to the paperback that the eBook just does not have. I’ll explain that more deeply later. For now, let’s look at this:
The stats tell us that the average self-published author will sell fewer than 250 books, and the average published author will sell fewer than 2,000 books. Books are now more cost-effective and easier to access, which has created a wealth of competition. Estimates tell us that one million books are published every year.”
In addition, it is my belief that this less than 250 book sell has a lot to do with a reliance on strict eBook sales. I believe this because an author can sell hundreds of paper-book copies alone at a book signing. First, let us establish something about Amazon Kindle. It’s not hard to become a bestselling author. For some categories all you have to do is sell maybe 100 copies (or less) of your eBook to make the #1 spot. This, according to The Millionaire Digest, is called gaming the system:
You can pick low-competition categories in Amazon and sell as few as ten books (in a particular period) and become a “#1 Amazon best-selling” author. Authors even make their book free through Amazon’s KDP Select program and claim “bestseller” status.
While I think selling 100 books is great, 100 copies of a book sold is a failure in the Traditional Publishing world as compared to, let’s say 10,000 or 100,000 copies. And even that, in Traditional Publishing, is funny. If a publisher printed 15,000 copies, shipped 10,000 and returned 8,000 then technically the author only “sold” 2,000 copies. This is what makes people Self-Publish. Ain’t nobody got time for all of that.
As for my personal opinion, I think one book sold is a success. If you sold 100 you’re a star in my book. But I digress.
The point is that I’m sure we all envisioned that making it to Amazon’s #1 spot requires selling much more than 100 eBooks. This isn’t to say those authors didn’t put in hard work, but that Amazon’s ranking is “iffy” to use an EC term. “Iffy” meaning ranks are not calibrated based solely on books sold alone. The truth is that Self-Publishing is hard work and for this reason many people have chosen the Hybrid Publishing method, which I actually think is interesting. I don’t have a lot of knowledge about it because I’ve yet to try Hybrid (I’m not a middle ground type person) but nonetheless, Hybrid Publishing is:
The hybrid author is someone who has book deals with traditional presses, but also self-publishes, or publishes in some other nontraditional way. Hybrid publishing encompasses the middle ground between traditional and self-publishing.”
Publishing using a combination of Traditional and Self-Publishing methods is an interesting thing. Though I’m Indie all the way, I don’t play the cool kid game. Traditional or Self-Pub, I like them both and I think Hybrid Publishing is on the come up. But this is precisely my point. (Though I am learning now that Hybrid Publishing is nothing more than Vanity Publishing. I don’t have the facts on that so I’ll just stick to what I know, but this is what I’ve heard.)
Because Self-Publishing is hard work, Indie Authors miss out on A LOT by opting out of print books. Someone in the group mentioned that the only people who will purchase your paperback are family members. This is also not true. According to Publishing expert Lou Aronica, self-publishers cannot afford to ignore print, as it still accounts for some two-thirds of book sales overall. “Print is not going away,” Lou said, “and outside of the US print is seriously not going to be a minority percentage anytime soon.” Lou goes on:
Ebooks are the preferred method of reading for a large percentage of readers and that will only get larger as the international markets reach their inflection point.
People won’t pay $12.99, but they’ll pay $9.99 — for e-books I’ve seen absolutely no price resistance up to $9.99. In fact $2.99 sometimes sends the wrong message. (With the exception of romance, because romance readers are different, the velocity of reading is different.)
It’s clear that publishers are raising e-book prices to make print more appealing.
It is clear that the increase in technology is not slowing and that authors are wise to have both an eBook and paperback copy of their book. Not only does it look more professional but you have options on sells. I’ve made over $1,000 in one night at an event selling paperback copies of my books. In fact, I make more in one day selling paperbacks than I ever did in eBooks. That’s because book promotion should go beyond social media and when it does, you need to be ready for it. It’s a lot more professional to sell a paperback to someone face to face with a business card and bookmark than it is to tell them to go to amazon and buy the eBook. Who’s to say they will remember to do that when they get home? I for one cannot afford to depend on your memories people (smile).
It is what makes publishing fun to me, hard-copies. Just this week I had to deliver some packages to the UPS Store and made a connection with the Notary there. I found it refreshingly exciting to verbally discuss my book as opposed to writing about it which I do most of the time. I started to think about public speaking and how this plays a role in book publishing.
With paperbacks, Indie Authors have the opportunity to network almost anywhere. Heck, you can sell books out of the trunk of your car if you wanted to, and set up various events to which your book is the star. As much as you need an eBook version as well, you cannot sign an eBook. As much as we’d like to push it away in the background, paperbacks are making a comeback. Well, at least in my neck of the woods.
Speaking of which, I’ll be in San Antonio this weekend at The La Quinta Hotel on 850 Halm Boulevard by the airport. I’ll have copies of my books if any of you are in town. Just approach the front desk and ask for Yecheilyah. I’m in town on business from Friday to Sunday time permitting. In the meantime, I have dropped the Kindle price again and am extending the Amazon sale through Thursday. If you want to check out my writing for cheap, The Road to Freedom is available now for $0.99 until Thursday.