Publishing Print Versus Digital Books

Believe it or not, I’m actually working on my book this weekend! I’m very close to having it done, if I will just grind through the tedious formatting parts.

But the grind has left me wondering if it’s worth the effort of doing both a print version and an ebook.

Pros for Print

  • I like reading a copy in print for editing purposes.
  • There are people who don’t have an ereader or tablet and/or who prefer to read a print copy. (Heck, even I like the feel of a book in my hand.)
  • It looks really impressive when you show it off. Here’s my name in print!
  • You can (theoretically) get some copies put into local bookstores.
  • Is it possible that having a print copy available makes your work look more legitimate? People who are lazy about writing probably don’t go to the trouble of doing up a professional-looking print book.

Cons

  • I could print a copy of my book from Word or Scrivener, on regular paper, and it would actually be easier to edit (especially if I do double-spacing).
  • Formatting a print copy takes two or three times as long as it does for the ebook.
  • Making a full cover for the print version takes two or three times as long as it does to make a front cover only for the ebook.
  • So far, I have sold almost no copies of my print book; I think the only people who buy it are my family members and a handful of others.
  • I make about half the profit on the print copy as I do on the ebook, even though the print copy is more than twice the amount of work.
  • If I want to issue a second edition (which I do want to do for Acceptance), I have to make edits separately to the ebook file and the print file, which means, again, twice as much work.
  • I don’t actually sell any of my print copies in local bookstores.

So, from a purely economic standpoint, it doesn’t make sense to continue to release print copies. And now that I have a full time job (with no down time), I have less time to write, edit, and publish. So the more time I spend on formatting, the less time I spend actually creating something new, the longer it takes to get my stuff on the market, etc.

So, unless I see some decent sales with the print copies of The Flames of Prague, I think, going forward, that I’m only going to release in ebook.

For those of you who are also writers, how do you feel print copies stack up versus your ebooks, or have you already made the switch to ebooks only?

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Name that Chapter?

When I started writing Acceptance, I named my chapters and made a hyper-linked table of contents in my document. This allowed me to skip around in my document with more ease.

I left the names of the chapters in when I printed a proof copy of my book. My husband noticed them immediately and said I should get rid of them because no one used them anymore. I hadn’t thought about it before, but J. K. Rowling was the only writer I could name off the top of my head who uses them, and when I started looking through my fiction collection, I noticed that the vast majority didn’t have titles.

I left mine in anyways. (Yay for self-publishing!) I don’t know why, but I wanted to have a table of contents in my book, and a table of contents made up of nothing but chapter numbers is just sad.

E-Books Are Special

In the age of ebooks, Jane Ayers wonders if it’s better to have titles for chapters. She said that she’s seeing better sales with one of her books which does have chapter titles, but she’s not sure if that’s a fluke or there’s actually a correlation there.

But it makes sense that ebooks will be more user friendly if they have titled chapters. Think about your favorite book—one you’ve read multiple times. When you pick it up, I bet you don’t always start at the very beginning. There are times when you just want to reconnect with a particular character or relive some bit of action, so you open it up to that place (you know the place: you may not be able to quote the exact page number, but you know by feel when you’re in the right place; your eyes even look at the right spot on the right page).

Guess what? You can’t do that with an ebook. You can open it to the last place you read or to a bookmark, but there is no opening it up in a semi-random place in the middle and starting in on it.

Enter the titled chapter and the table of contents. You can go to the table of contents in your ebook and you can follow the hyperlink to the start of a chapter. But do you need Chapter 15 or Chapter 20?

I know my book so well that I can almost always find any bit of dialog I want simply by looking at the title of the chapter and following the link. The name of the chapter applies to the major theme/scene that happens in it, and I know which conversations took place in which scenes.

I was thinking about not using chapter titles in The Flames of Prague (although they exist right now for my convenience), but now I think I am going to go ahead and use them. With 99.5% my sales coming from ebooks—a trend that is sure to continue—I think it’s best to plan for the ebook. (I could leave them out of the printed copy, but why?)

Non-Sequitur

I am totally ripping off… erm… I mean, I am totally inspired by Michelle Proulx’s Unrelated Image of the Day, so here’s a non-sequitur image:

How We Rolled

While sitting in the park today, I noticed that the playground was oddly full of parents. And I don’t mean parents around the playground. I mean right there in the gravel, pushing swings and spinning carousels, like those big kids of theirs weren’t capable of 1) doing it for themselves, 2) doing it for each other in a little thing known as unscripted peer-to-peer interaction.

In my day, parents knew their place was on the other side of the rail, and they stayed there unless there was an accident involving blood and screaming.