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Paperback vs E-book, and what I learned.

I was just getting my feet wet in the self-publishing world in 2015, and thought paperback was the goal–I mean we all want to see a physical copy of our book! But then I learned there was a lesson I missed that self-published authors knew before me.

Bookstores anyone?

Unless you’re book is going to be in shelves for the public to pick up and purchase, your visibility is at risk. As a self-published author, we are not so lucky to have Barnes and Noble to display our work, but with sites like Amazon, Ingram Spark we can go international.

How paperback is done right

I met author N. J. Hanson at a con and saw several of his books laid out on his table. He attends many events and personally reach readers by showcasing his books to the public.

I’m currently reading his book ” The Kingdom of Dadria: A Lamb Amongst Wolves ” available here.

Don’t confuse your preference for paperback or e-book with your demographic, because you might be better off holding the paperback until you are done with your e-book version. Your e-book downloads can let you know what kind of sales you might make for your paperback. But it’s risky to think new readers will pick up your paperback from a whim.

Print sales still make the most

In her article, Physical books still outsell e-books — and here’s why Handley, reveals printed books are cashing in the most in 2019

“Publishers of books in all formats made almost $26 billion in revenue last year in the U.S., with print making up $22.6 billion and e-books taking $2.04 billion, according to the Association of American Publishers’ annual report 2019. “

This is excellent news in terms of my love for physical copies, but as a self-published author, I have reached more readership because my book is a download away. In a little over a month, I reached over 600 downloads because it doesn’t cost anything to give your book away for free, and I couldn’t do that solely on paperback–not for free. E-books give readers a chance to know who I am, what I write.

How I publish now and the pros and cons for e-books

I now write to publish for e-book and leave paperback for last. What I like about this is I can still celebrate that my e-book is now in print! The excitement doesn’t disappear when you wait for paperback!

For printed books, the sky is limit with bleed settings, you can stretch your images without having slanted or cut off images (and as long as you’re following the print guidelines)

One of my complaints about e-book is you can’t get extremely creative when you’re formatting. Not when there’s the Kindle format (mobi), e-pub, pdf, lrf, pdp, etc. On the positive side, Kindle recently allows your image to bleed to a certain degree, and that is a helpful tool for those who like to show visuals!

Publish for e-book but expect to have a paperback format, and don’t get me started on audio books.

Writing quality not quantity #1

A Stump on your Writing Road

Have you ever written like there was no stopping you until out of nowhere you’re writing are just empty words, that make no sense?

This is not an issue on grammar or punctuation, I’m assuming you have taken care of that, what I’m talking about is your story. There are times where you will have to erase an entire chapter and start over or risk approving a chapter with flaws—your chapters shouldn’t leave you feeling insecure, so here is an example of what too look for.

You’re editing is running smooth:

As I’m working through the final edits of Lola: Aftermath of The Birth, my biggest stump was the climax of the novel—you know, the best part you can write! I spent two days on one single chapter erasing, shifting sentences around, adding new scenes, and dialogue, but nothing I did in the past that resolved current stump helped! I was frustrated, and started averting my eyes from the chapter to look at my phone, and when I came back to write, I dreaded every minute reading on repeat.

A chapter that runs smoothly will feel like the current of the wind, and although you are the one who wrote it, you will find yourself being drifted alongside the story. You can test this by not reading your book for a day and going back to see if you get the same effect. Granted, you will probably edit a word or two along the way, but that’s what you’re supposed to do.

Show a chapter to a reader:

I recommend taking a chapter or chunk to a reader you trust. If they say “you forgot a comma,” thank your lucky star because you can fix that, but if they say “I’m sorry—what does the clerk have anything to do with what’s going on with MC?” then you better start rolling your sleeves.

That is the sinking hole I was stuck in, I gave my chapter to my husband and warned him, “You’re not going to like this, but trust me it was far worse than it was.” He reads it while I wait for him to be done and you can hear my words virtually stab him with reactions that made him say “What!?” “That doesn’t make any sense!” I almost curled into a ball when he finished the chapter, but that’s how I knew I wasn’t fooling anyone, that chapter needs a lot of work.

What happens if you don’t fix it now:

Plot holes! If you think your readers are not going to catch on, then you are clearly underestimating them. I am always going back to my manuscripts and digging through my notebooks to make sure all of my future volumes will remain consistent. To resolve it—you have put in the work, the last thing you want to do is create a last-minute phony excuse to explain why your protagonist or antagonist did the thing they did, because again—your reader will know.  

How I fixed my stump, and how you can fix yours:

I read and edited the same eleven pages with 3,975 words with a sick stomach (figuratively speaking), and it turns out what caused my nausea was the end of the chapter. The beginning was rich and had me at my seat, but then the excitement started to dwindle in the middle, where the end did not deliver what the highest point a novel should give. In fairness, I thought my problem was the first few paragraphs but that was because I could not recognize which was the weaker scene, so to guide you:  

  • Separate your chapter in half.
  • If the climax is more than a chapter long, outline each scene.
  • Is your character suddenly making choices than he/she would not normally do? Add validity to that reason so it will make sense.
  • Outlandish actions can lead to cheesy or predictable scenes, so don’t depend on the element of surprise.
  • How do you get rid of stains? You rinse and repeat, keep editing, keep asking for feedback, and don’t give up.

The Common Raven

A Common Raven at Yosemite National Park

Ravens and Crows both belong in the same taxon, Corvus, it’s easy to run into them just as it’s easy for an amateur to find no distinction between them. In the West Coast of the United States (Washington State, Oregon, and California) the American Crow and Common Raven are the ones you are likely to run into.

“Common Ravens can mimic other birds, and when raised in captivity can even be taught words.”
Common Raven image taken during my summer trips to Yosemite National Park

I take frequent trips to Yosemite National Park, and if you have gone there, you will surely find huge black birds sweeping over you and roosting over the pine branches while you take your usual hike or walk down lower Yosemite Falls. You will notice their coarse calls, and see that some have an edgy hairstyle at the curve of their head, these are not crows, they are Common Ravens!

I recorded one raven taunting another raven as shown in the image below

On my recent trip to Yosemite, I found their behavior interesting. In the summer, they keep their distance in the trees. In the snow, these guys are not shy of waiting to see if you will drop a crumb or two.

In the winter, the common raven looks darker, this might be due to contrast of the snow

What to look forward on your next trip to Yosemite

Ravens! You will find them everywhere, but if you want to get a good view, I suggest a really good zoom in lenses for images, binoculars, and no distractions! Am I asking you to become a birdwatcher? I AM!

“Ravens are very good at utilizing human-altered landscapes and have aggressively expanded their range across the country, including into Yosemite.”

Shy but one of the Biggest

Although not as social as crows, you’re most likely to find ravens in the outskirts, and like crows and hawks, they can be found near the roadside keeping an eye for roadkill. If you’re looking for the largest Raven out there, the Thick-billed Raven in East Africa and the Common Raven found all over the world fall as one of the biggest.