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Cutting open a cardboard box full of hot-off-the press books is undoubtedly a great feeling. Wrapping your hands around that sweet print copy of your baby speaks volumes for all the hard work you’ve done. A print copy is so tangible, so real. Dopamine rush aside, a wide variety of factors play into whether or not you should do a print version of your ebook. 

This year I will be covering dealing with rejection, publishing goals, formatting mistakes to avoid, knowing comp titles, and blogging a book. Feel free to explore Word Bank’s archive of publishing posts. In particular, you might find Book Formatting Mistakes to Avoid of interest.

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Should You Do a Print Version of Your Ebook?

Admit it. Visions of bookstore window displays have likely danced in your head.  Print-on-demand services make it possible to order a handful of print books at a time. This may suffice if you’re willing to pay for the formatting and have a copy for yourself and your family and friends. Small-print runs are also readily available to meet an author’s immediate needs at speaking engagements and conferences. However, widespread distribution is another matter entirely.

Reasons to Definitely Do a Print Version

Beyond the coveted book-in-hand effect, having print copies available makes sense if you are going to be offering the book in conjunction with speaking gigs or at a booth at comic-cons, farmers markets, holiday bazaars, etc. If you plan on marketing your book to book clubs or giving away promotional copies, having a print version available for readers to order is also a boon. Other reasons to offer a print version of your book include that its price on Amazon will make the ebook price look like a great deal, yet such psychological magic matters little if the reader isn’t being enticed to read your book. Print versions obviously come in handy, though be sure to factor in how much you will pay for shipping the titles you will be offering in person.

Picture of teacher with apple

Reasons to Maybe Do a Print Version

The profit margin on a print book is never going to be as high as an eBook, and the higher price point means they will be a harder sell overall. If the books are selling well enough at speaking engagements and the like, a print version will be viable. Otherwise, you will likely end up selling your book one by one, and this can be incredibly time consuming with little investment on return. Contacting bookstores and libraries one at a time is likely not the best investment of your precious hours available to you for marketing your book. Take the time also to ensure you are pricing your book accordingly.

Reasons to Skip a Print Version

Your printer can boast being able to list your title in catalogs, but that doesn’t necessarily mean much. In order to get print books in front of a wider crowd entails using a book distributor. Distributors focus their efforts differently. One might focus on regional chains while another will focus on independently owned bookstores. A distributor’s profit comes from taking a percentage of the titles they are able to place in a bookstore. If you can land a distributor there may be shipping and other fees to deal with as well.

The structure of this posts makes it pretty apparent where I stand when it comes to deciding if you should do a print version of your book. Print is great for certain purposes, but for the average self-published author, book distribution and consignment scenarios can be quite the headache, especially for a team of one. Be realistic in your expectations. It’s always possible to branch out down the road. The slow-burn is the beauty of self-publishing.


So, should you do a print version of your ebook? What success (or not) have you or authors you know had with doing a print run?


Please share responsibly. Jeri Walker, 2018. Image credit: Red Apple in Hand.

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