Is eBook distribution enough? Why selling hard copies of your novel matters


Why authors need to publish printed booksTaking your writing career to the next level with printed books

Go to any publishing industry trade show, writers conference, or book fair and you’ll hear a lot of talk about “digital disruption” and the “eBook revolution.” But look around for a second. Notice anything? Printed books!

Sure, eReaders and tablet devices are everywhere these day, but according to a new study only 4% of active readers are reading digital books exclusively. That means 96% of readers still buy printed books. Even among a younger demographic (age 30 and below), 50% of readers are purchasing printed books ONLY.

As a self-published author you should absolutely make your book available as an eBook. The benefits are obvious: unlimited shelf-space, affordable worldwide distribution, no manufacturing costs per unit (beyond the initial design, formatting, and conversion), nearly instant delivery to your fans, and much more. But if you’re serious about your writing career, you should also be selling your novel as a printed book.

3 reasons why you should print hard copies of your novel

When you publish a printed book with great design and a striking cover, you can:

1. Maximize your potential readership — 

Whether we’re talking about reaching readers that are more likely to buy physical books, or getting your books into libraries and bookstores, or selling your book at readings and signing events, or offering your printed novel as a Goodreads giveaway, or having a few copies on-hand just in case you meet someone who’s interested in your writing — when you publish both eBooks AND print books, you’re setting yourself up to capture the widest audience possible.

2. Establish legitimacy in the eyes of fans, as well as industry professionals —

Many folks in the publishing industry scoff at e-only titles. Some readers also assume that if a book is only available digitally, it may not have been good enough to warrant a print run. This prejudicial attitude will hopefully change over the next 5-10 years, but for now the printed book is still a kind of standard. So make yourself look like a serious contender. It’s all about creating and managing perceptions. And if you’re going to be printing your book anyways (see Reason #1), then the proud feeling you get inside that says “hey, you’re a real author; you’ve arrived; and here’s the physical book to prove it” — well, that’s just a big fat bonus.

3. Take advantage of additional publicity opportunities — 

There are a number of book blogs and review sites that will write about your eBook-only title. And there are plenty of recommendation engines that will index your eBook in their database. But with the ease of ePublishing comes a glut of eBooks on the market (which is now eternal). For this reason, many book reviewers, literary critics, editors, TV and radio producers, and podcast hosts will only consider writing about or featuring printed books. It goes back to that whole legitimacy thing mentioned in Reason #2. Anyone can publish a digital novel; not all authors are serious enough about their craft and career to publish a beautifully designed, professionally printed novel — or so the thinking goes. Thus, eBook-only titles are disqualified from a number of opportunities involving publicity, media-coverage, book reviews, etc. But you’re not going to run into that obstacle, because you’ve already seen the wisdom in expanding your potential readership and presenting yourself as a legitimate author, right?


How’ve you used printed books to boost your career? Let me know in the comments section below.

If you’d like to print physical copies of your novel, get a custom quote from BookBaby (where your satisfaction is 100% guaranteed)!

For tips on how to best design your physical book before it goes to print, download our FREE guide:

Printed Book Design 

Chris Robley is an award-winning poet, songwriter, performer, and music producer who now lives in Portland, Maine after more than a decade in Portland, Oregon. His music has been praised by NPR, the LA Times, the Boston Globe, and others. Skyscraper Magazine said he is “one of the best short-story musicians to come along in quite some time.” Robley’s poetry has been published or is forthcoming in POETRY, Prairie Schooner, Poetry Northwest, Beloit Poetry Journal, RHINO, Magma Poetry, and more. He is the 2013 winner of Boulevard's Poetry Prize for Emerging Writers and the 2014 recipient of a Maine Literary Award in the category of "Short Works Poetry."



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