When it comes to publishing, self-publishing can be a great option for authors. However, when self-publishing, you have to think of yourself as running a business. That means taking into consideration things like the cost of publishing (editing, design, marketing, etc.) and what the price of your book will be. And when pricing your book, remember to factor in how much other books in your genre are charging, how much readers would be willing to pay, and how much to charge for your ebook versus your print book (print books are more expensive to produce so you’ll have to charge more for them).
Speaking of print books, having your book available in both digital and physical forms is a great way to expand your reach. (And sometimes, you might want a print-only version of your book, like if you’re creating a coffee table book.)
If you do want to offer print versions of your books, there are lots of print-on-demand options, (POD) so you don’t have to store a bunch of copies in your garage.
Before you decide whether or not to POD, you’ll want to set some goals. ALLi has 5 questions to ask yourself before you begin:
- Are you going to be primarily an ebook author with a few printed books for promotional purposes?
- Are you going to restrict print sales to online, through the pbook retailer and your own website?
- Are you going to limit yourself to a few local or handpicked bookstores?
- Are you going to go all out and try to get a distributor and do a print campaign with the associated trade-style publicity in newspapers and other media that is necessary to sell books in this way. If yes, why?
- Have you realistically budgeted time and money costs?
When you’re ready to sell and distribute your print books, you’ll also need a few additional files. The Creative Penn has a good list, which includes:
- An interior print file (usually a PDF)
- Remember to design it to have margins and page numbers, and
- Keep your trim size in mind, as that will affect your design
- A cover file (also usually a PDF)
- An ISBN (different from your ebook’s ISBN)
- Where you want to distribute your book (that will determine which platform to use)
- Whether or not you want to offer a large print edition in addition to your other print editions (you’ll need multiple interior print files)
The Institute of Network Cultures breaks down two of the platforms: Publit and Lulu. They compared shipping costs and how nice the printed versions looked (you always want a test print), and declared Publit the winner.
Indies Unlimited compared KDP and IngramSpark. They list the pros and cons of each, and it kind of comes down to what you’re looking for. And some authors use both, to maximize distribution.
Paperback and Hardcover
Another thing to consider when it comes to print books is whether you want to offer paperback, hardcover, or both. Personally, I offer both using a combination of KDP and Lightning Source for my book 50 Dinosaur Tales.
KDP recently started offering a hardcover option, and it was pretty easy to use. I was able to use the same interior PDF, and only had to make some updates to my cover to fit the new format.
ALLi has an ultimate guide to hardback and premium books, with information on pricing, format (and cover types, like jackets), and how to design your books. (The Book Designer also has an excellent post about book layouts and page margins, if you decide to design your book yourself.)
Do you sell print versions of your books? Share your experiences in the comments!
Editor’s note: This was originally published December 2021.