This is my second go around as a published author, I was published for a time in the early days of the indie scene, and during both my previous time as an author and my current career I have come across the question posed in this post’s header.
It seems that many indies cannot see any value in having a paperback/physical version of their work out there; either they believe ebook is the way forward and paperback is dying out, or they feel it’s too difficult/time-consuming/costly to make a paperback a part of the catalogue they offer to their readers.
I can’t claim to be an expert in the publishing business, whether indie or traditional, I’m just someone with a bit of experience, and I hope to help by passing on that experience to assist others.
In my opinion, indie authors should release every title in both ebook and paperback versions – they should also release them as audiobooks, and in every other format possible, so long as the cost to produce is minimal; the more ways in which a title is visisble, the more likely it is to be seen, and therefore to sell.
I have heard indies give both cost and difficulty, as well as lack of sales, as reasons for not putting together a paperback version of their titles. It seems to me that along with most other problems a person encounters, these problems can be overcome with some research and a bit of knowledge. To that end, I’m going to address the three biggest reasons for not having a paperback in the hopes of convincing you to create one:
LACK OF SALES
This seems like the obvious place to start, and if I’m honest, there isn’t really a counter I can give to this, the chances are, unless you’re lucky, you won’t sell many copies, at least initially.
Don’t be put off by the prospect of limited sales, sales are not necessarily why you should create a paperback; it’s possible that you will get sales, and you should celebrate each one, but it is more likely that people will see your paperback and then, if they’re interested, buy the ebook as that will most likely cost them less.
A paperback provides increased visibility, it is also handy to have because some reviewers, and you will want to get in touch with them at some point, will only accept paperbacks for review, and giveaways work best when the prize is a physical copy of a book (giveaways are a very effective way of getting people interested in your book without spending too much money).
The last reason for having a paperback is the joy of holding something you have created; it’s nice to have your novel as an ebook, but nothing compares to being able to hold and an actual, physical book.
Those who are not technically minded find adapting their ebook to a paperback format a little daunting, and I can understand that, at first glance it does seem difficult. No-one should let a little difficulty stand in the way of possibly earning some money, though, especially if that money is to be earned through something you love, like writing.
I use Createspace to produce my paperbacks (other services are available) and once I have selected the size for my paperback, they provide a template to follow with all margins and interior layout prepared for me, all I have to do is copy my novel into the template and make some adjustments to ensure the chapter headings appear as I want them to.
I’m lucky enough to be reasonably computer literate, so this isn’t too difficult for me; I can appreciate how it might be for others, though. Fortunately, there is a way around this, which brings me to the third reason.
In addition to the interior file, you will need a cover for the paperback, one that will include front, back and spine. Obviously there are people you can contract to create a cover for you, at reasonable prices, if you don’t wish to do that, however, Createspace provides a feature whereby you can build a cover online.
I appreciate that not everyone has money they can afford to throw at publishing, even when you can find formatting services for a reasonable price. Cost needn’t be a barrier to turning your ebook into a paperback, however.
If you look around, especially in writer’s groups such as those on Goodreads, you’ll find other people who have services they can’t afford to pay for, people who are willing to trade the services they can do for those they can’t. This means someone may be willing to setup the interior file or design a cover for your paperback in exchange for some help with marketing, or something else that you may have a particular ability with.
Whether you pay for a service or trade for it, I recommend you check out the person providing the service to be sure they will do a proper job.
I hope this has helped convince you to put out a paperback and expand the visibility of your titles.