To Print or Not to Print: Digital and Print Self-Publishing

To print or notNote: this piece is geared toward writers interested in self-publishing. Find other pieces on self-publishing here.

Your book is edited and done, you’ve got a cover and you’re ready to get your masterpiece out into the world. Well hold on a second, my friend. There are still a few matters you need to attend to before you can launch your book into the world. And first of all is the matter of format. To print or not to print? That is the question.

Are you going digital?

If you ask me, there’s no reason not to produce your book in e-format. Sure, it’s most writers’ dream to hold a print copy of their book in their hands, but you know what more and more readers enjoy? Ebooks. Ebooks are great because they’re typically cheaper than print books and can all be stored in one lightweight reader. You can literally take 100 books with you wherever you go without collapsing under that staggering weight of print copies.

You may have a good reason not to produce your book digitally, and that’s fine. But I am a huge believer in the power of ebooks. So do yourself a favor and put your book out there as an ebook, at least in ADDITION to a print book.

So why should you do print?

When you sell a print version of your book, it helps boost ebook sales. Think about it – whenever you look at a book on Amazon and see that it’s $13.99 (plus shipping) for a print version, but then underneath it is an ebook version for just $2.99, you’re inclined to go for the better (cheaper) deal.

But aside from helping to sell your ebook, some of your true fans might like a hard copy of your book. And maybe you would too? For your bookshelf? To show off to friends?

Ultimately, the perk of selling hard copies of your book is because – since they’re priced higher – you make more money off of each sale.

Why shouldn’t you do print?

Before you dive into getting your book into print, make sure you evaluate whether it would really behove you to do so.

For instance, Is your book short? Is it worth it to print? For example, I do not print my flash fiction collections. They’re short things (only 20 or so pages and priced at just $0.99 per ebook), so charging any more than that for readers to buy a print version would not bring in much revenue for me. Nor would it be doing a service to my readers.

Also keep in mind that it takes time to format the book for printing. You’ll need to be meticulous about doing this if you’re taking the task on yourself. Otherwise you may want to look into hiring someone to take care of this process for you.

You’ll also need to make sure that when you have a cover made, you also get a spine and back cover made along with it. This can get costly, but you will want to keep your book looking professional, and all print books have a cohesive feel from the front cover to the back.

And lastly, it’ll take time. You’ll need to review the sample copies and make sure everything looks right.

How should I approach printing?

There are plenty of options for creating print copies of your book, but I think that the best approach to this for new self-publishers in the Print-on-Demand (PoD) approach. Rather than having to print and bulk and keep stock in your home or office, you can produce your book with a PoD company that can print a copy of your book and ship it whenever an order for it comes through. There are various PoD companies, but the biggest ones are CreateSpace (owned by Amazon) and Lightning Source.


So that’s the quick and dirty rundown of producing your book in ebook and print formats. Got questions? Or have any tips? Add them in the comments below!

One thought on “To Print or Not to Print: Digital and Print Self-Publishing

  1. Pingback: Formatting for Indie Writers | The Sprint Shack

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