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.

Is Your Chapter Worth It?

Do you ever read through your chapters, and ask yourself, am I adding fillers or is this moving the plot? If you’re not asking yourself that, now is the time to go back to Chapter 1!

Here is an example of what you may say to justify why you wrote what you wrote.

  • This may bore my reader but they need to know this back story so I can deliver the punch they will get at the end!
  • I have to increase my word count.
  • Too much is happening right now, my characters need a break!
  • My book is unique it is not meant to follow the norm.

Here is what I say about my book, The Birth

It is still too early for my readers know who Avalon is, what the heck an Ososi is, and how Lenurs live in Talen! Introducing Avalon early and not building on Lola’s character will draw my readers to her as she is the one who turns Lola’s life upside down! We are looking at the world through Lola’s eyes, but who is she anyway and how did she end up in a cabin on the Okanogan National Forest?

You’re writing it, but they’re reading it

Your readers can’t turn the next page unless you give them a reason to, many writers say you need to add conflict, or put some kind of struggle your character is facing in order to keep your readers hooked–well they’re right, but it’s risky to throw the first thing that comes to your mind without taking three steps back and then ten steps forward to see if it’s keeping in track of your chapter! I’m a pantser, I can write a book from Chapter 1 to end but I will also fall back on outlining when I’m taking three steps backs and then ten steps forward.

Three steps back , ten steps forward

If you’re writing a stand alone novel with no plans to make a sequel or series, you don’t need to steep too much to implement the mysterious scenes you haven’t told your readers yet. If you’re writing epics, sagas, series, chronicles–whatever you may call them, you also don’t want your chapters to be a filler! We are not making a jelly filled doughnut!

What to consider if your chapter is worth it

  • Can I bring this scene later in the chapters, or books ahead, and why is it significant?
  • Unless that red hat your character keeps describing is going to blow up or turn into a rabbit or have some other significance, you don’t need to keep grinding it on every chapter!
  • You’re describing the setting very well, but how long will your character stay there? If he or she is just passing by, make it brief or skip it (unless you’re adding symbolic messages) use description in areas they will be spending most of their time but implement it well!
  • I love dialogues but if my character keeps saying “Why?” put your picture on the wall of shame and erase it (I do this all the time).

Final Thoughts

But if you felt my advice was wrapping you up in twine, and somewhat giving you an uncomfortable squeeze, I know I have done a job well done. Remember, your story is still your story, but do you want to know who else calls it theirs? Your readers.

The next change in your book can be a painting, meal or concert away!

I know, you want to be cooped up to write and not be told to get out, but give me two minutes, I also love shutting my study room and play some low chill vibes while I write. But if we are writing about characters who spend most of their time fighting villains, running through rough terrains, and interacting with trusted companions–shouldn’t we try to get out of rabbit hole every now and then?

I went to The Legion of Honor Museum in San Francisco this week. I was there for a variety of reasons actually!

  1. Legion of Honor Museum
  2. Eat ramen in Japan Town.
  3. See Bloc Party at The Masonic!

If you write fantasy–you’re probably bubbling with various ideas for your work. Maybe you’re done and need to go through the editorial process. Sometimes you’re one push away from self-publishing or sending your manuscript to a traditional company. Amidst all of this, there can be several stories you have been itching to write, but there aren’t enough elements to give your idea gravity.

Kele Okereke from Bloc Party playing the Silent Alarm album at the San Francisco Masonic

For example, my book series The Black Wing will be stretching out for various volumes, the universe I built is enormous, so I am compelled to write outside of the series because I can’t cover everything in one volume—not when Merla and Serenata are the main centerpieces of the series! My new project has an active first two chapters. You can google anything these days,

but I still believe in experiencing for inspiration—not just looking for inspiration!  

The Thinker by Auguste Rodin

Remain in constant meta-cognition when you’re out, now is the time to start asking yourself ‘What do I see, hear, smell, and touch, and how can I create this into a scene or event in my story? Yes only you can give your character life, but it doesn’t hurt to try a new approach!

So what did my experiencing for inspiration did for me?

We parked a mile from SF Masonic and excitedly crossed the streets, waited for the lights, and groaned up and down the hill. I loved every minute of it, despite my complaining for wearing flats instead of comfortable tennis shoes (I never learn my lesson). As a result, I changed an important plot in The Black Wing because of it, and the more I looked around the less doubts I had! But you will have to find out what that change is, you will have to wait until much later in the series!