Subsequent posts will look at various eBook and print-on-demand (POD) distribution channels that a self-published author can access. This post starts the process with an overview.
It’s amazing what’s available. When I’m finished the posts on distributing your self-published book, you’ll see that there are many options to make your book available far and wide, both in eBook and print formats. The pace and scope of this development have been astounding. Writers have unprecedented ways to publish their manuscripts and control the promotion of their books.
What’s available is constantly changing. At the core of the advent of self-publishing has been the development of technology that allows the uploading and sale of manuscript files on sites like Kindle. That technology is advancing quickly, so self-published writers will find that distribution platforms come and go, and change often. Writers must regularly assess what distribution strategy will work best for them.
Don’t ignore print. When I wrote my first book, The Case for Killing, I imagined only publishing it as an eBook. The world of self-publishing was full of commentary that readers were moving from hard and softcover books to digital versions on their readers or tablets using apps.
I’ve now ensured that print versions of The Case for Killing and False Guilt are available in many markets as well. Why? The rate of growth in the adoption of eBooks seems to have slowed. A recent study by Publishing Technology shows that higher percentages of both older U.S. readers and millennials (18-34) prefer print books to eBooks. And I’ve found something similar. I often hear readers say they still prefer the look and feel of paper books.
A few self-published authors will actually make money; most won’t. Occasionally, I still encounter people who are surprised that money can be made distributing self-publishing books. More often, I encounter writers who read about a few massive successes and think they’ll get to the same spot. You can find lots of speculation and some studies about self-published author income. Bottom line, it takes enormous perseverance and some luck to recover upfront costs, let alone make money. And…
You still need a great book. Given the huge numbers of self-published books, the starting point for selling any copies of a self-published book, eBook or print, is writing a great manuscript and ensuring the cover and interior are well designed.
Don’t confuse distributing with promoting. Another naive thought I’ll confess to is that sales would come simply by having my books on a well-trafficked site like Amazon. Nope. Self-published writers, more than traditionally published authors, must promote, promote, promote. Readers won’t be looking for your book in a distribution channel if you don’t.
You will be pitched other services. Many self-publishing retailing sites will pitch writers other services like editing and advertising. I’ll write more about this later. The point is that writers should tread very carefully to avoid additional expenses.
More posts on distribution soon.
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