Rosanne Dingli

Rosanne Dingli

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Paperback or eBook?

IRex iLiad ebook reader outdoors in sunlight. ...Image via Wikipedia
What should a writer publish a book in first - paperback or eBook? This is a dilemma faced by writers who feel confident enough about their own writing to attempt a self-publishing venture with a book or two. There cannot be many established writers, too, who are not tempted to get their out-of-print volumes out there and for sale.

For some writers, the latter venture could be their only self-publishing endeavour. Finding a publisher is not an easy thing to accomplish, and once one is found, giving that publisher the right of first refusal on all subsequent manuscripts might feel like a good idea in this climate. It certainly makes sense. Self-publishing then is reserved for those volumes an author would like to keep in print beyond their contract dates. When rights revert, the time is right.

For emerging writers, finding that first publisher is a difficult thing. Yes, we all hear amazing stories of first-time authors landing seven-figure contracts, but the reason we hear the news is because it does not often happen. Generally, there are months if not years of receiving rejection after rejection, that often have  less to do with the quality of the work than its potential to make money in a particular season, climate or market environment. Self-publishing is an option, but when I say 'self', I mean self. It makes little financial or practical sense to pay a company to 'help' you do what you can do yourself with some research and a lot of commonsense. Getting stuck is something one can get oneself out of rather easily with a search for more information.

It is very possible to self publish for next to nothing. It is certainly the case for eBooks. Paperbacks will incur the writer some costs along the way, but nothing major.

So the choice: what comes first, the eBook or its hardcopy version?

The answer is simple: start on the version you think most of your readers are likely to choose first. Is yours a YA urban fantasy? Then the chances are your market is digital-savvy and already equipped with eReaders or some sort of device on which your book with fit. Have you written a cosy mystery with a forty- or fifty-something protagonist, which will appeal to ageing baby-boomers? Then perhaps a paperback should come first. Mind you, I know some pretty digital-happy fifty-somethings, so you might have to come out with your eBook in pretty quick succession.

Think market. Think speed. If you use Kindle, your eBook can be out as soon as tomorrow, and selling happily, as mine do. If you use CreateSpace, it takes a week or so (depending on where your proof needs posting to) and you are ready to go.

Time is of the essence, especially in these days of rapid everything. Doing things yourself and making timely choices might mean your book is bought and read sooner, rather than later. Don't hold back - let me know your opinion now by filling in a comment box. I love to hear what readers and writers feel.
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  1. Wow, you have a lot of knowledge about this! Maybe there is a book in that ..

  2. Well said, Rosanne. Interesting concept too about potential markets ie young and ereaders vs. older readers and print book. Connie Brockway has also blogged about her venture into epublishing here . She gots loads of responses. :)