The Three Versions of Your Book
This blog was originally published on Amazon’s Author Insights Blog.
You can read it here.
I got the nicest email from a gentleman reading my book Prosperity for Writers, and his note included this sentence:
“My thoughts were to publish through Kindle, then later the Amazon physical publishing, and then Audible.”
The initial thought might seem to be the pragmatic approach. But, I have solid reasoning behind my belief that publishing all three versions (eBook, paperback, and audiobook) on or around the same date is the most prudent and wisest business move you can make.
I know you want to make the most money possible from your book. You don’t just want to make more money, you also want to have the happiest readers possible! Make sure your readers are happy by providing your book in as many formats as you possibly can. To realize this objective, it is a good idea to publish at least the eBook and paperback versions together (as well as the audiobook version if possible).
First, I’ve learned it’s important to give your customer (in our case, your reader) what they want, the way they want it. These days, we have the option to consume content in a way that works best for us. For example, I like to read the book I use for my spiritual studies in paperback so I can highlight passages, make notes, and use sticky notes (I’m such a sucker for a sticky note). But when I’m traveling, taking multiple books simply isn’t practical. I usually buy the Kindle version of the non-fiction books I use to study.
For most other books, especially fiction, it’s Kindle only for me. And, because I spend a fair amount of time walking to keep up with my 10,000-steps-a-day goal, I also consume lots of audiobooks. From conversations I’ve had with my fellow bookworms, everyone has their preferences. People who read a lot like to transition from written to audio so they can continue the story or their learning on the go.
I know it’s tempting to just put out eBooks. In fact, I initially put out a few of the books in The Successful Single Mom series only as eBooks. Eventually I realized the read-through rate was low for those who purchased the paperback because they simply didn’t know any more books in the series existed. It didn’t take many requests for paper versions of the other books in the series before I decided to produce them. Wouldn’t you know they immediately started selling, and I was cash-flow positive on each of the paperback versions within a month for each version. Go figure!
The same is true for the audiobook versions of my book. On more than a few occasions, I’ve been told, “I’ll wait for the audiobook. When is it going to be released?” I believe audiobooks have a bright future. Audible (Amazon’s audiobook division) makes it easy for authors to find professional voice talent and have their books produced. They even offer a no-upfront-investment option. I’m selling more audiobooks month-over-month because more people are discovering Audible and listening to their books in addition to, or instead of, reading them.
Second, what you might not know is that it does not have to be significantly more time-consuming or costly to produce a paperback on top of things. While you’re having your book’s front cover designed, ask your designer to provide a full cover, too. In my experience, the full cover might only cost a bit more than the front cover (for the eBook), and they might even create a square cover for the audiobook version for a nominal cost (again, ask first!). Your book’s interior designer can provide the layout for both versions simultaneously. Editing and copywriting are standard operating procedure for producing a quality book, which means the only two additional costs will be for the full cover and layout of the print version. For only an extra couple of hundred dollars, you could exponentially increase your chance of success.
Finally, publishing your book in multiple formats will make you look professional. I mean, multiple formats mean your book publishing game is tight! Unless there’s a great reason (like the book is too short to have a spine), I now publish all three versions of my books simultaneously. Bonus: one of the coolest things you can do is hand someone a copy of your book and offer to sign it.
When it comes to self-publishing, if there’s a mistake, I’ve made it – up to and including only publishing one version of a book and then wondering “why isn’t it as successful as I thought it could be?” Do yourself and your book a favor and publish it in at least two formats.
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