How and Where Should You Publish?

A Porter Hall Novel

The first question you will have to answer is are you going to publish in ebook, print, or both? The definitive answer is: It depends. First it depends on what type of book you are publishing, mainstream fiction, genre fiction, a cookbook, a guidebook, a how-to book, a self-help book. The first question you must answer is, Who is your audience? How will they use your book? For example, someone buying a cookbook may care more about a hard copy than someone reading genre fiction.

If you want a print edition, you have one big decision. Print-on-demand or a print run and inventory? That question turns into a choice between Amazon’s CreateSpace, or Bookbaby or similar? The answer (again): It depends. Will your readers primarily be buying online, or will you be going around to clubs and events selling and signing. If it’s the latter, you should may want to go with Bookbaby, or Outskirts, or Blurb, or anyone of a number of similar sites that let you do a print run of anywhere from twenty-five to several thousand. You can also order in bulk through Amazon POD. If you do a print run, however, you have to pay for it in advance, manage the inventory and take care of sales and distribution.

I chose CreateSpace for my initial publication for one simple reason: Print On Demand. That means readers who want a print version of my book can order it from Amazon. Right now it’s selling for about $8. I make less than a dollar per copy, but I priced it that way to (hopefully) stimulate sales. The Kindle version is .99, right now. I can reset the price at any time. It takes about five minutes. Amazon prints and ships in whatever quantity is ordered, and the POD is available for delivery within 24 hours, generally.  I don’t have to purchase inventory, maintain it, or ship it. If I want to send sign copies to friends, reviewers, or a reader who requests one, I buy it, have it sent to me, then reship it. Media mail, the least expensive way to ship, costs about $3.

Kindle, Cobo, Nook, etc.? Which format should you chose? All of them, probably. I believe within the year we will see a slow eradication of formats and eventually there will be either one standard ebook format, or all devices will accept all formats. The reason is that tablets, computers and smartphones already do, and the dedicated devices, primarily Kindle, Nook and Cobo, become superfluous in the face of something like an Android tablet or iPad, which can read everything, and do more than either, at the same price or less. I had my car broken into in April and one of the things stolen was my Kindle. I replaced it with a 7-inch Samsung tablet, which is far more useful. Right now my book, ONE MINUTE GONE, is available only on Kindle because of some promotional tools Amazon offers if it is exclusive to them. Within a week I’m going to open it up to all formats. I’ll let you know how that goes.

NEXT: Pricing strategy.

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