One of the early decisions a self-publishing author has to make concerns what type of book will be published. Ebook? Print book? Both?
This decision affects a number of parameters including the cost, the amount of work and the book’s price.
Ebooks come in different flavors to satisfy different e-reader devices. The primary ones today are described below:
PDF format: This file type has been around for a long time. It stands for Portable Document Format and is used to read documents on a computer monitor. Many tablets can now view this format file type. PDF produces a file that is almost identical to the original file that created the PDF file. The advantage of the PDF file (over a doc file, for instance) is the PDF file can’t be changed, while the doc file can be altered. Modern software does allow the PDF file to be marked up (with corrections or annotations), but the original text can’t be changed.
EPub format: This is new worldwide standard for ebooks. Formatting a document to be published in this format can be a daunting experience because of the stringent standards that have been developed.
Mobi format: This is the format used by Amazon for its Kindle ebooks. It doesn’t have the strict requirements of the Epub format.
Other formats: There are other ebook formats such as HTML and a number of others. However, most self-publishing authors will rarely, if ever need to use them.
One of the areas you need to inquire about is what formats a packager will provide. The more formats the better. If the packager restricts the ebooks to pdf format only, this will limit the number of potential buyers for the ebook and the number of web sellers that will handle the book.
Print book formats
Print books come in paperback and hardcover styles. The latter are more expensive to produce and hence will command a higher price. Print books also come in a variety of sizes that you’ll have to specify in order to have your cover match the book size. Since covers are usually ordered early in the publishing process, this implies that your print book size is dependent upon the cover size and that implies the size decision has to be made early in the publishing process.
Ebook or print or both
Naturally, there are a number of advantages and disadvantages in publishing one or the other type of book or both types. For that reason, I have concocted a comparison tree listing the pros and cons.
The table below lists pros and cons for print books and ebooks. I’m sure there are many more bullets that can be added to each header, but these are the major ones to my way of thinking.
• Less expensive covers.
• Faster publication cycle.
• Instant global distribution.
• Instant download and availability.
• No book production costs.
• Author gets a higher percentage of sales revenue (on a lower book price).
• Many readers don’t like e-readers and prefer to read a print book.
• Some ebook seller sites are reader-hostile and very difficult to navigate.
• Difficult to sell at book fairs and other personal appearances.
• Book prices can be much lower than print book prices.
• Lower revenue per sale.
• Can be sold at book fairs etc.
• Bookstore sales possible.
• Library sales possible.
• More expensive cover.
• Slower distribution.
• Distribution may be restricted geographically.
• May have distribution fees.
• More expensive production costs.
• Distributor sales suck up almost all the revenue leaving little for the author.
• Bookstore returns are a problem.
I don’t know if this comparison tree will help or hinder your decision, so you can use it or ignore it.
This material is based on Self-publishing a Book which is also available as part of the boxed set Complete Self-publishing Guide. These ebooks are available from Amazon and many other booksellers such as Barnes & Noble and iBooks.