Should You Ever Print Your Book On Demand?

Make Paperbacks with CreateSpace: Sell More Books on AmazonThis guest post is by Reedsy writer, Desiree Villena.

In this digital day and age, it can be hard to know whether printing physical books is a worthwhile endeavor, when ebooks have become so prominent and accessible for readers. As an ebook entrepreneur, you probably haven’t spent much time considering the possibilities of printing your book on demand. After all, why spend money on additional design work and printing costs when ebooks are so much easier to format and distribute?

However, some authors may not realize the unique advantages of printed books, especially if you’re an indie author who could benefit from a bit of above-and-beyond marketing! That’s not to say printing on demand is a wise choice for every indie author, only that you shouldn’t rule it out. To that end, here are four reasons you might consider printing on demand, at least for a limited run — along with a few final considerations for those of you on the fence.

You should consider printing your book on demand if…

1. You struggle to attract early reviews

Because reviews provide concrete social proof that other readers will enjoy your book, it’s crucial to have them as soon as possible, or else readers may hesitate to buy it. In order to display reviews on your Amazon and Goodreads pages in the first days of your book launch, you’ll need to attract early reviews from a handful of reliable people.

Yes, it’s true some ebook authors find it easy to rake in tons of reviews. But more often than not it’s a serious challenge, especially when there aren’t any current reviews urging people to pick up your ebook (you might think of it as a positive feedback loop). The good news is it only takes a couple of reviews to get the ball rolling… and this is where print-on-demand comes in.

Sending physical copies of your book to select reviewers can be incredible in terms of convincing them to write and post reviews as soon as your book comes out. Not only is a physical book more aesthetically appealing and difficult to ignore than an ebook, but reviewers who receive them will be touched by the gesture, making them more likely to reciprocate with a review. (Pro tip: check out this directory of book review blogs to find reviewers who might appreciate a physical copy!)

2. You’re attending a writing conference soon

You may also benefit from printing a small number of books if you’re attending a writing conference anytime soon. Between panels and workshops, you’ll mingle with other authors and publishing professionals, and one of the most effective ways to network is to offer them a physical product — in this case, your book.

The logic tracks from the previous reason as to why this approach works so well. A printed book is a beautiful, tangible representation of yourself as an author, and giving it to someone is much more memorable than emailing them an EPUB or MOBI (though you should still have this option available). In addition, having physical copies on hand signals to literary agents and publishers present that you’re serious about your work, and take great care to present it well.

Needless to say, if you’re in pursuit of a traditional publishing deal, the stakes are high at writing conferences — hence why you should at least consider the potentially career-changing tactic of handing out printed books.

3. You want something more to offer devoted fans

On the other hand, if you’re committed to self-publishing (as most ebook authors are), you may already have a foundation of loyal readers to help you thrive. If this is the case, the third reason to consider printing on demand is simply to maintain that loyalty. Not that you wouldn’t be able to do so with ebooks alone! But from the perspective of a fan, being able to order a newly minted physical book from an author you love — whose work has heretofore existed only as ebooks — would be pretty cool, right?

So if you’ve established a strong fanbase, and especially if you’re writing a series of books, think about printing your next title on demand for readers to buy. You’re almost guaranteed to get at least a couple orders; plus your biggest fans won’t mind paying a little extra for a physical copy, so you can increase the price a bit from the ebook price. (Royalty percentages are another story, but hey, you’re hopefully not doing this entirely for the money.)

You might even combine this reason with reason #1 and send printed — and signed! — copies to your especially huge fans, with the aim of accumulating those invaluable early reviews. Not only are they more likely to have positive feedback, but again, the personal gesture will solidify them as a fan forever.

4. You’d just like a physical copy or two

All that said, you don’t need a specific, calculated reason to print your book on demand. As long as you can afford it, you can print your book anytime you want! You may simply want to hold a physical copy of your book in your own hands. If that’s your dream, don’t wait until you have a “good reason” — in the words of Nike, just do it.

You may find it gratifying to print your book for family and friends. Yes, they’ll all be proud of you for publishing in the first place… but won’t they be even more excited to see your book in the flesh? To that end, it’s never a bad idea to have a few printed copies available to give as gifts. (Not to mention that, if you want to get a sense of how other people will perceive it, reading a physical copy of your book will give you fresh eyes!)

Reasons not to print on demand

This post has covered a few common reasons to consider printing your book on demand. But these reasons depend on fairly specific situations, and if you’re unlikely to encounter any of these in the imminent future, I wouldn’t blame you for sticking to ebooks.

Also, even if the aforementioned reasons do apply to you, there are still potential drawbacks to printing on demand. Cost is perhaps the most prohibitive — not just the cost of the printing itself, but also for a spine and back cover design (which you obviously don’t need for an ebook) and reformatting the text of your book in a print-friendly manner. If your budget is already stretched, it may be best to refrain from printing your book for now.

Another consideration is which print-on-demand service you use, and the reality that you can never be 100% sure what your proofs will look like until you get them. If the spine bleeds, the text is off-kilter, the pages are too thin, or any of countless other issues arise, you may have to pay for another round of printing or opt for a different service altogether.

Finally, if you’re still tweaking your book — for example, if you published a slightly rough ebook and plan to revise the current version after an editor takes a look — then you’ll definitely want to hold off on printing it. Typos in an ebook are bad enough, but typos in a physical book are dire; they practically leap off the page and poke you in the eye.

Even if you’re not worried about typos, you never know if you might want to redesign your cover, or change a certain plot element that you regret. If you feel at all uncertain about the contents of your book, you’re definitely better off waiting to print it — rather than manifesting that uncertainty into an inescapable (unless you pull a Fahrenheit 451) physical form.

***

Desiree Villena is a writer with Reedsy, a platform that connects authors with the world’s best resources to help them publish a book. She’s very passionate about self-publishing in particular and making it possible for authors everywhere to achieve their dreams! In her spare time, Desiree enjoys reading contemporary fiction and writing short stories.


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Draft2Digital Adds Google Play Distributor for Your Ebooks

This is a great addition by Draft2Digital for important retailers to work with. Google Play sells a lot of books for indie authors. Smashwords doesn’t have this distribution option, and Google closed the door to new authors several years ago. Nice update for D2D.

Their email highlights:

As of right now, Google Play Books is another option for you to offer your books to an ever-growing audience of readers worldwide! Reach out to more than seventy countries using a brand that everyone knows.

NOTE: This program is currently a public beta

When you opt-in, we’ll automatically add the Suggested Wholesale Price for your book. You can adjust this price after opt-in, if necessary.

HERE ARE SOME THINGS TO KNOW:
No minimum price—There is no minimum price at Google Play Books. You can list your book for free if you like! Otherwise, you’ll price at 99-cents or above.

Wholesale pricing—Google Play Books uses a wholesale pricing model, meaning that authors can set a recommended list price and Google may discount it at their discretion.

Price matching—Some retailers, such as Amazon, may choose to price-match against the Google Play price for your book.

Royalty—We pay you 44% of the wholesale price of your book made on Google Play, when you distribute through our service. If you use our Recommended Wholesale Price, this will generally be about the same as the royalty you’d expect with standard pricing.

No assetless preorders—Google Play will not accept assetless preorders. You’ll need your book’s manuscript and cover.

If you have any questions, please feel free to email at support@draft2digital.com.

Happy publishing,
The Draft2Digital Team

Draft2Digital current partner stores include:

Amazon
Apple Books
Barnes & Noble
Google Play Books
Kobo (including Kobo Plus)
Tolino
OverDrive
Bibliotheca
Scribd
24Symbols
Playster
Baker & Taylor

2nd Annual Smashwords End of Year Sale (Christmas-New Year’s Day)

For authors interested in participating, here are the details:

Welcome to the enrollment page for the 2nd annual Smashwords End of Year sale! For the these eight days only, thousands of Smashwords authors and publishers will offer readers exclusive discounts on their ebooks.

To enroll your books in the promotion, select from one of four promotion levels below: 25% off; 50% off; 75% off, or FREE.

If you manage a lot of books, you can use the bulk enrollment option which you’ll find in the pulldown menu directly underneath each of the enrollment levels.  This feature allows you to enroll all applicable books into a single promotion level.  Remember to click “Submit” after you make your selection.  You can modify your selections at any time.

Once you enroll, customers will obtain your books using one of the special discount levels below, which will automatically reflect in their shopping cart at checkout.

Benefits of Participation

Smashwords authors and publishers enrolled in the promotion will receive:

  1. Placement in a special Smashwords home page catalog from December 25 through January 1
  2. The sale will be promoted to over one million customers of the Smashwords Store (so be sure to enroll before December 25!)
  3. Notation on your book page that the book is participating in the sale.
  4. This is a collaborative sale.  The more authors and publishers participate, the more it amplifies results for all participants.
  5. Readers love Smashwords sales because it’s a great opportunity to stuff their shopping devices chock full with deep-discounted ebooks from both new authors they haven’t tried yet as well as long-time favorites.  Have fun!

How to Participate (Scroll down the page to enroll your books):

  1. Log in to your account. If you do not have an account, click here to join now for free. Books must be published at Smashwords to enroll in the Smashwords promotion.
  2. If you’re logged into your account, below you’ll see a list of your published books. Simply select the book(s) you want to enroll, and at what level you want to enroll. Click “Submit” and you’re done.
  3. If your book is already free, or you previously selected the “name your own price” pricing option, you’re already enrolled and you do nothing.
  4. Offer your books at 25% off, 50% off, 75% off, or for FREE.
  5. Your discounted price, after the coupon is applied, must be $.99 or higher, otherwise your book will default to free.
  6. The catalog goes live at one minute past midnight on December 25 Pacific time, and expires 11:59pm on January 1.
  7. You can opt out of the promotion at any time, or change your promotion settings at any time.
  8. These deals are exclusive to the Smashwords Store and will not work anywhere else.
  9. By participating in this promotion, it does not change your retail price at Smashwords or at Smashwords retailers.
  10. You will receive an email confirming your participation.

Thanks,
The Smashwords Team

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CreateSpace (CSP) and Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP) Become One

Not a surprise to many self-published authors to hear that Amazon’s Kindle Direct Publishing (for ebooks) and CreateSpace (for paperbacks) are merging. Amazon has owned CreateSpace for many years, but all this time authors have had the ability to upload and sell their ebooks and paperbacks through each service independently.

This is the official word on the marriage:

We’re excited to announce that CreateSpace (CSP) and Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP) will become one service. As a reminder, KDP now offers Expanded Distribution to sell your paperbacks to physical bookstores in the US, as well as the ability to sell your paperback books on Amazon.ca (Canada) and Amazon.com.au (Australia) (Amazon.mx (Mexico) coming soon). With these features, KDP’s paperback distribution will be on par with CreateSpace’s distribution. KDP also offers features that aren’t available on CreateSpace. These include the ability to purchase ads to promote paperbacks on Amazon.com and locally printed author copies in Europe.

As a result of these enhancements to KDP and our ongoing efforts to provide a more seamless experience for managing your paperback and digital books, CreateSpace and KDP will become one service. On KDP, your paperbacks will still be printed in the same facilities, on the same printers, and by the same people as they were on CreateSpace.

In the coming weeks, we’ll start automatically moving your CreateSpace books to KDP. Your books will remain available for sale throughout the move and you’ll continue to earn royalties. Once we begin this process you’ll be unable to edit existing titles or create new titles on CreateSpace. To learn more about the move and review the latest, visit here.

If you have a release planned soon or you would like to start the move yourself, you can move your entire CreateSpace catalog to KDP in just a few steps. To get started on your move to KDP, log in to your CreateSpace Member Dashboard. During this transition, you can contact KDP customer support by email and access phone support in English.

There are a few payment and printing fee differences associated with the move. Any royalties earned while your books are on CreateSpace will be paid according the CreateSpace’s payment schedule, 30 days after the end of the month in which they were earned. After you move your books to KDP, new royalties earned will be paid on KDP’s payment schedule. KDP pays royalties on a monthly basis 60 days after the end of the month in which they were earned. As a result, you’ll be paid in October for any royalties earned in September on CreateSpace and be paid in November for any royalties earned on KDP. In addition, some low-page count books will see an increase in printing fees when they are printed in the UK and EU. We’ve already sent an email to the small number of accounts affected by this change. Learn more about KDP’s printing costs here.

We’ll be in touch with more updates in the coming weeks. It is still Day 1 for independent publishing. As Amazon’s recent shareholder letter noted, there are more than a 1,000 authors who earn more than a $100,000 a year from their work with us. We could not be more optimistic about the future of independent publishing and this change will allow us to innovate faster for you.

Best Regards,
The CreateSpace and KDP Team

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Draft2Digital Adds Discoverability for 2018

Draft2Digital has stepped up their game. Over the past year D2D has made nice additions that further their distinction from Smashwords, another longtime choice for self-publishing distributors. What was done in 2017 is substantial:

  • ebook style templates
  • paperback layout improvements (much needed)
  • automated end matter
  • Findaway Voices for audiobooks and narration
  • better email notifications and payment options
  • added distribution partners OverDrive (libraries), Playster, Kobo Plus
  • added distribution to Amazon

That last one is huge. Smashwords does not distribute to Amazon (except for special requests from authors with sales over $2,000/title)

D2D’s focus for 2018 is helping authors and readers connect even better. In their words;

Books2Read is all about Discoverability

In 2017, we focused all of our development power and energy on building as many new things for the indie author community as possible. The result was dozens of amazing tools and resources that help make it so much easier to build and grow your author career.

You can read all about those here!

Now, we’re turning all that attention and energy to tackling one of the biggest challenges an indie author can face: Discoverability.

The Idea is Simple, the Impact is Huge
Discoverability means making your books easy for readers to find. It’s one of the primary goals of marketing, and for authors it can be the difference between having a hobby and having a career.

After all, you can perfect your craft, invest in professional editing and covers, get your manuscript converted to a professional-looking eBook or print layout, and distribute it to some of the biggest online retailers on the planet—but if no one knows it’s there, the sales won’t come.

Solving the challenge of discoverability isn’t going to be easy, and it’s not going to happen overnight. But we’re taking aim at it with the same problem-solving skills and expertise that have made Draft2Digital the best eBook distribution service on the planet.
In other words, we got this.

Enter Books2Read

If you’ve been with us for a while, you’re already familiar with Books2Read. It’s currently the home of one of our favorite tools: Universal Book Links (UBLs).

Since introducing them in 2016, we now have more than 200,000 UBLs out in the wild, generating millions of clicks. UBLs are used by authors to promote their books on websites, in social media, in podcasts and videos, even on printed materials. They’re evergreen links that take your readers to everywhere your book is sold online, with a single, customizable URL.
That was just the first step, though. Now, with 2018 ahead of us, we have bigger plans.

Books2Read will become our reader-centric source for indie author discoverability
We’re going to build a platform that helps promote your books to the readers who will love them!

Here’s what we have in store for the next year of development:
UBL Search Filtering—We’ve already started! As we wrapped up 2017, we added a new feature to our UBLs that authors have had on their wish list. Now you can quickly search through your UBLs to find just the one you need, to check data, add new storefronts, or make any other changes quickly.

Author Pages—Another in-demand feature, and one we’re very excited to offer! Author Pages will give you a single platform for directing readers to your work, complete with an author bio and photo, and a list of your books that will be updated as your catalog grows! This can be your home online, and a central place for readers to find you, without the cost and overhead of creating a website.

Book Tabs—You’ll never have to worry about manually creating book pages again. Book Tabs will let readers learn more about your book, and they’ll find a Universal Book Link that lets them pick it up anywhere they prefer to buy eBooks online! Your book will be beautifully presented, with a cover image and description, and with a UBL to make it fast and easy for readers to get their hands on it. Plus, you’ll have all of the data that UBLs provide, as well as their ability to include affiliate links from various retailers.

Custom Bookshelves—You’ll be able to group your books together any way you like! Segment them into series, genre, co-author, preferred reading order, even the color of the covers if you want—it’s all up to you!

Improved UBL Analytics—More data means more control, and UBLs will be getting an overhaul to provide you with better analytics. Get a deeper insight into your readers, their habits, and their preferences!

More. So much more. Both in the spotlight and behind the scenes, Books2Read is evolving, with new features and resources that will make it much easier for readers to discover your work.

Over the next year, we’ll be turning out these features and more, as rapidly as we can make them ready, with an eye toward making your author life easier and your author career more successful.

We’re gearing up for 2018 to be the Year of Discoverability. And we can’t wait to see what it means for the indie author community.

Keep watching your inbox for more to come!

Happy publishing,
The Draft2Digital Team

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