Paperbacks: How important are they to your platform?

Today we’re lucky to have L.M. Stull visiting to discuss what platform is best for you.

Self-publishing and ebooks have changed the publishing world as we know it. Recently, I’ve noticed a growing trend with self-publishers and even small presses, and that is their books are available only as an ebook. And this got me thinking…

By limiting the availability of our product, are we limiting the marketability of our book… and ourselves as authors? 

Most indie authors strive to prove to readers that they are just as good, if not better, than authors who are published by traditional means. And after all, we try to make our covers just as appealing, to conduct ourselves with the same level or professionalism, and finalize a product that will blow the masses away. But I do wonder by having a book available only
digitally if we aren’t limiting our overall potential.

Marketing ourselves, our product, and our platform should occur more than just online and I think a lot of self-published authors are missing this very important part of the equation. Getting out in the public, pounding local pavement and sharing our product with actual people – traditionally published authors are doing it, why shouldn’t we?  If your book is available only digitally, how do you conduct book signings? Surely we can’t sign everyone’s kindle and admit it, passing out author cards, bookmarks or photographs just doesn’t have the same feel as an actual book.

Now believe me, I understand the appeal of ebooks. For one, your royalty rate is higher than that of a paperback/hardcover, and it’s one less formatting job that you have to worry about. And I even understand publishing it electronically first, working out any remaining kinks, and then making it available as a paperback/hardcover. But if we are going to go
head-to-head with traditional publishers and authors, in my opinion, I feel as
though we need to be mimicking their marketing campaign and show them we mean
business, just like they do. Prove to the readers that we are no different.

As indie authors we already have to deal with the stigmas that have been associated with self-publishing: that our product is slapped together, that we self-publish because we weren’t good enough to be traditionally published. These stigmas make it all the more important for us to not completely  deviate from the literary mold that has been tried and tested for many of year.

So, for me, having a paperback for sale is about more than just having our product available on different platforms; it is about proving to the literary community that we take our product seriously, and not to mention preserving it for future generations to relish and enjoy.

Now, I’d love to hear your thoughts!

Originally a Washington, DC native, L.M. Stull now resides in Southern Virginia. She has
always been a creative person and studied classical piano and dance from a young age.

During the day you will find her chained to a desk at a law firm. Yes, she works for
lawyers. Now you understand why she writes about creatures . . . Boom! At night
she channels her inner creative monster and writes (sorry, she doesn’t turn into a werewolf or anything).

Her debut paranormal romance novel, Memoirs of a Monkey, will be published by Black Kettle Publishing in Fall 2011.

When she’s not writing or feverishly taking orders from attorneys, she laces up and
runs (and sometimes drinks wine…yeah, okay maybe more than sometimes).

There are several ways you can go about stalking her on the web if your little heart
so desires:Twitter , Facebook, Goodreads (Hint: she’ll totally think you’re awesome if you add her upcoming books to your to-read pile) and of course, her really cool Website. She also runs the Fellow Writer’s Group on Facebook.

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23 Responses to Paperbacks: How important are they to your platform?

  1. jennajaxon says:

    I’ve started looking at e-pub and self-pub options very seriously lately because they do offer several advantages over traditional publishing. First and foremost, to me, is immediacy. I can have a story or novel out to the public in two months rather than two years if I choose. Not only is that more money, but it is more exposure to readers.

    That being said, I do see value in still trying the traditional publishing route. It gives more of an air of legitimacy to your work and helps with exposure. But if you’re writing non-traditional genres or have non-traditional themes, your options simply don’t include traditional publishing. I’m inclined to think that a writers platform would be enhanced by print publishing, but would not be devastated by its lack. As long as the writing is good and the story is fresh, the readers will come.

    BTW–Where in southern VA are you? I’m near Williamsburg.

    • L.M. Stull says:

      Hi there! Thanks for your comment. “As long as the writing is good and the story is fresh, the readers will come.” That right there is the most important statement on this entire blog.

      I actually live in Williamsburg, few minutes outside of New Town 🙂 Let me know if you are ever in the area and we can grab a coffee!

  2. Lynn Rush says:

    This is a good question. I think having paperback and electronic help you have a more rounded platform. Though, e-books are really starting to take over the world…. 🙂 Great post. You got me thinking.

    • L.M. Stull says:

      Hi Lynn! Yes a rounded platform, I think, really is key. I agree ebooks are taking over the world, but I do wonder if it is a fad that will eventually simmer down. I know several of my friends already use their ereaders less and less and have returned to reading paperbacks and hardcovers. I think it will be interesting to see where the literary world takes us over the next decade 🙂

      Thanks for stopping by to comment!

  3. eden baylee says:

    Great post LM, and I can’t wait to get your book in as many formats as it’s released!

    Having a paperback is more work, but it’s not impossible – just takes time, and with POD options out there (Createspace, Lightningsource) that are credible, it’s worth the expense. Doing a print run of 200 books initially for a book signing is great. Also, many credible reviewers don’t want an ebook format – they need hard copy.

    Also…on a purely emotional level, there really is nothing like holding your book in your hands once it’s finished.

    eden

    • L.M. Stull says:

      Thank you so much, Eden! I plan on giving Lightningsource a try, myself. Good to know about book reviewers requiring a hard copy – I hadn’t even thought about them requesting one! And yes, there is something about holding a book in your hands, especially one your poured blood, sweat and tears into 🙂

  4. I have paperbacks available for my novels (the short stories will get one when I get a collection together) if for no other reason than the proof copy is an excellent editing tool. The manuscript reads different from the computer screen or kindle to a “real” book. I don;t sell a lot of paperbacks, but I do sell a few, so to me it’s worth it. plus, I have fun seeing it in print 😉

    great post!

  5. Sue says:

    Some good points were made here on the comments. I am grateful to my friends who publish a paper copy since I don’t own an ereader. I know I’ll have to get one because I’m missing out on a lot of good reads. Thanks for the thought provoking discussion 😀

  6. Ciara Knight says:

    I agree. Having your book in all formats means everyone can read it. There are still many out there who do not want to read from an e-reader. I’d hate to exclude them from possible readers of my work. Great post!

  7. M.E. says:

    You’re right about the legitimacy of traditional publishing. I have to confess, I had a bad impression of self-publishing because of a bad experience picking up a SP book that was replete with grammatical and spelling errors to the point of distraction. Lately, though, I have read work by very fine authors who are SP and I know that the industry is changing.

  8. L.M. Stull says:

    Thank you everyone for your wonderful comments. It was so nice to hear your thoughts on the topic!

    Lindsay, thank you for having me on your blog, it was great fun! 🙂

  9. I agree completely! I would never publish a book that is just ebook. I want all of my books to be out in paperback as well, for all the reasons you listed. But also because I took a poll, and many readers still do not do the ereader thing! Shocking I know, but true nonetheless. Also, many reviewers will only accept a physical copy of the book for review. These are important reasons to have a physical book as well as ebook.

    Yes, ebooks are exploding! And I would never publish without an ebook option, but there is still a place for paperback books. Book clubs, libraries, schools, gifts that are tangible…we need physical copies of our books for so many reasons. Thanks for a great post Lisa! You know I’m first on that list to get a signed physical copy of YOUR books! 🙂

  10. Great post Lisa. I definitely agree with having your books available in print. As well as proving that your product is serious, it also makes your work available to people in countries that do not yet have many ereaders.

  11. L.M. Stull says:

    Kimberly & Dmytry! Thanks for stopping by 🙂

    “As well as proving that your product is serious, it also makes your work available to people in countries that do not yet have many ereaders.” <– Another excellent point, Dmytry!

    Thank you both for your comment.

    P.S. Kimberly you will, of course, get signed copies of everything I publish (whether you ask for them or not 😉 hehe

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  13. Lane Diamond says:

    I agree with your overall premise, but I wonder of the best route for authors to take. I’m curious if agents and legacy publishers will pursue successful eBook authors, all the while leaving the electronic rights to the author. I know they show little interest now, but as their industry fights to stay alive, I think they’ll have no choice but to rethink their business model.

    In the meantime, given the print self-publishing options available, complete with access to the big distribution channels, I can’t help but think that authors may want to make that their preferred option. Depends on how agressively they’re willing to hawk it. I think this is particularly true for authors in the early stages of their career, given that the odds of landing an agent, then a publishing contract, then an advance of greater than $10,000 that ends up earning out… are so, so slim.

    If it’s about money, eBooks is where the author will enjoy their greatest earnings. However, I think POD is intriguing, but not necessarily something an author needs a “publisher” for. In the new world order, the author can take almost full control. I say “almost,” because we all need a little help from our friends and colleagues. I think it’s time for a new model, a new way of thinking, and I don’t think we’ll have all the answers for a couple years yet. Still… exciting times for authors.

  14. lbdarling says:

    I think it’s important to offer as many formats as you can. I’m not ready to leave the paperback behind, although admittedly e-books are the majority of my sales. I use paperbacks as giveaways when a new novel releases so the winner has something they can hold and show around to their friends provided they like it. It’s not outrageously expensive and it’s a nice little promo thing. I’m trying something different with my upcoming novel “Child of War-A God is Born”. It will release first in hard cover in a limited signed edition in early September, then it will release in mass paperback a month later, a month after that mass ebooks will come out (Kindle, Nook, Smashwords, iBooks, yada yada yada). We’ll see how it goes. 🙂

    • L.M. Stull says:

      That is a great idea! I thought about offering a limited edition hardcover for one of my books when it comes out, but I like your idea of staging them. Hardback first, then paperback, then ebook.

  15. I’ve held an annual 30 day/30 book/30 author giveaway for the last three years, and so far entries for print copies continue to be consistently higher than entries for e-books. So I think having a print copy available definitely widens your potential readership.

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