In spite of my affection for the printed page, when I decided to go Indie, I had zero plans to publish paperback versions of my books. Print was dying, everyone was jumping on the eBook wagon (the new wisdom). And, I have to admit, I was still laboring under the notion that publishing your own paperback books meant you had to order 500+ books at a time (the old wisdom), which wasn't feasible for me from an economic or storage standpoint. Not to mention that typically, the quality was notoriously poor. In my mind, it was eBooks or bust.
However, I discovered that some reviewers/book bloggers will only accept paperback copies for review. There were promotional opportunities I wasn't able to participate in because I only had an eBook. Concurrently, I started to get requests from readers for a paperback version of Live and Let Die. Even if you are an eBook devotee, there really is something about having a signed copy of a book you like.
So, I began to soften my stance.
As I started to investigate my options, I realized the "new" way to get paperback versions of your books into the hands of readers was to "Print on Demand" or POD. This was a revelation. I didn't have to pay for 1,000+ books all at once, all so they could be used as paper weights and door stops or take up space that I didn't have. I could order in batches. In other words, much like with eBooks, I had control over the process.
Welcome to publishing in the 21st century.
After a lot of research, I decided to go with CreateSpace (www.createspace.com) for the development of my paperbacks. I heard positive things about the ease of production and quality of the finished product. I was fortunate in that I already had a fabulous artist on my team to design the cover and a fantastic formatter to get my manuscript POD-ready, which were the only true out-of-pocket costs, aside from the shipping for my bulk orders. As per my usual, I looked to my own bookshelf for guidance on how the package should "look." I carefully examined the design and format of those books, everything from how the cover was laid out, to the title page and placement of editorial reviews.
Once I started the process with CreateSpace, it was incredibly easy. I went with a 6 x 9 size with a cream interior (again, similar to how traditionally published books look). I had some nice editorial reviews which I was able to use on my front and back cover as well as on a "Praise For" page on the inside.
When my hard copy proof arrived (I highly recommend not skipping this step, tempting though it may be to "get on with already"), I have to admit I got a little emotional. It was an incredibly surreal moment to be holding a book in my hand that had my name and photo on it. And yes, I got a little teary. No shame in my game.
The really crazy moment came when my first bulk order of ten books arrived. I squealed when the UPS man handed me the box. Opening that box and seeing copies of MY book inside was like Christmas.
My first batch has already been put to good use. I've sent some to reviewers and a few other folks – and just last week, I launched my first GoodReads giveaway (GoodReads only allows paperback giveaways – see the link below). I'm finishing up the POD version of Sweet Little Lies as we speak and my brain is already churning away with ideas for future promotions specifically geared towards the paperback versions of my books.I'll probably only ever break even on the paperback versions of my books, but that's okay, (then again, who knows what will happen). As my rallying cry continues to be, everything you can do to increase your visibility and by extension, get your books into the hands of readers in order to build your readership, is a good thing. Paperback versions of your eBooks are a great investment in your overall brand, so if you've been on the fence or even adamantly against it as I was, don't be so quick to shut that door. Investigate your options and ask fellow authors for advice. Like I said, you never know what can happen.
As always, back to writing.