Why You Should Have Your Book in Multiple Formats

Even with technological advances, I still love the feel of a physical book.

Whether paperback or hardcover, I love to cozy up on the couch with paper and ink in my hands. But even with my preferences, I’d still advise that it’s a wise business decision for self-publishing authors to sell books in multiple formats.

Despite apocalyptic predictions that digital will kill paper, the physical book isn’t going away. On the contrary, paperback books remain the most popular format. That said, it’s unwise to self-publish your book in only one format.

Readers love choice more than ever, and that love of choice includes book formats: physical books, eBooks, and audiobooks.

Here are several reasons why you should publish your book in multiple formats.

Some formats work better than others for specific markets.

If you’re a romance novelist and self-publish your book only in paperback, you’re more likely to fail. Why? Many romance readers prefer eBooks over paperback, so you’re leaving sales on the table if you’re not getting your stories digital.

Conversely, children’s books fare better in paper formats, so a children’s book in only eBook form may not be enough. Format preferences vary wildly on genre and category, so you’ll glean a wealth of market research by investigating the format most of your potential readers are buying.

But even when one format is more popular than another, it’s wise to publish in multiple formats. Related to the above, many romance readers still prefer paper to electronic—airport stands for romance novels still exist! So, multiple options are crucial to reaching your potential audience.

You increase the number of platforms you can sell your book on.

Not every bookseller sells books in every format. If you self-publish your book only in the .mobi eBook format, you’re practically limited to selling through Amazon’s Kindle section.

While Amazon is the most prominent storefront for self-publishing authors, you can do better.

If you take your manuscript’s file and export it to .epub, you open up most of the rest of the eBook market. You make it possible to sell your book on Barnes & Noble, Apple Books, Kobo, Google Play, and more. Some retailers even sell books in .pdf form.

If you record your book as an audiobook, you can play it in audiobook storefronts, such as Audible, iTunes, Google Audiobooks, Nook Audiobooks, or Kobo Audiobooks.

And if you release your book in physical form? You can sell on most of the above retailers, like Amazon, and even keep open the chance to see your book at a physical bookstore. Sounds exciting, right?

You can get the best of both worlds with exclusivity and availability.

Some retailers offer the option to sell your book exclusively on their storefront. In exchange, you’ll often get better royalties and priority in promotions and algorithmic placement. The downside is that exclusivity commits you to only one storefront. So, if you sign up for Amazon’s KDP Select, you can’t also sell your eBook with Barnes & Noble.

However, exclusivity deals usually only apply to one format. So, you could decide to give KDP Select eBook exclusivity but then sell your book in physical and audiobook format elsewhere. You can mix and match exclusivity deals and benefit from the perks of exclusivity and the availability of multiple formats.

You increase your book’s accessibility.

Not all book readers can read a physical book. For example, some readers are visually impaired. Other accessibility considerations include learning disabilities such as dyslexia, limits in motor skills, and language ability.

Fortunately, a self-publishing author has all the tools to make an accessible book. Audiobooks are an excellent alternative for accessibility. Of course, eBooks are also beneficial in their adaptability. With an e-reader, a reader can increase the text size, change the font, look up dictionary definitions, or even enable text-to-speech.

But when formatting eBooks, you must follow accessibility guidelines. E-readers need a properly formatted file to parse text for the user. When you format your book with accessibility, your product looks more professional, and more readers can enjoy your work.

Bonus Reason: For another kind of accessibility, you can get your self-published books into libraries. This is especially easy with digital formats, and you can use book distribution services to list your book on digital lending services like OverDrive and Hoopla. In addition, the libraries that you license your book to will financially compensate you without the reader having to pay.

You can even sell readers the same book more than once in different formats

A number of retailers make it enticing to buy in two or more formats. For some Kindle eBooks, Amazon offers the option to “add Audible narration,” often at a discount. Through Whispersync technology, readers can switch between visual reading and audiobook reading without losing their place.

You can even set it up so that if a reader buys the physical version, the reader can also buy the eBook version for cheaper or even get it for free. This bundling technique significantly increases goodwill with your readers and entices them to buy your next book.

Closing

The case is strong: Multiple book formats are great for your self-publishing business and the culture of reading. Prepare your manuscript with different formats, and you’ll be a step closer to success!

I’ll turn it over to you: What book formats do you prefer? What factors influence the format you get your books in?


What is the Maryland Library Ebook Law, and What It Means for Self-Publishing

In February, a federal court issued a preliminary injunction on a first-of-its-kind library eBook law, the Maryland Act, marking a momentary win for the plaintiffs, the Association of American Publishers (AAP).

The injunction follows a hearing where the AAP argued that the Maryland Act would’ve infringed upon publishers’ federal copyright protections, especially the exclusive rights publishers and authors hold under copyright law.

As reported by Publishers Weekly, the Maryland Act had required “that publishers offering eBooks to consumers in the state must also offer to license the works to public libraries on ‘reasonable terms.’”

In other words, if a publisher sold an eBook on Amazon or a similar store, then that publisher would’ve had to offer public libraries the opportunity to lend out electronic copies of their books, or else the publishers would’ve faced penalties, both civil and criminal. Currently, publishers have the discretion to not allow libraries to license their books electronically.

Despite the injunction, Maryland’s attorney general’s office plans to defend the Act in court. The Act was initially passed unanimously by the Maryland General Assembly in 2021 and went into effect on January 1, 2022.

The state argues that the Maryland Act is in the public’s interest, as it aims to support public libraries by addressing “the unfair and discriminatory trade practices of publishers at the expense of public libraries.”

The preliminary injunction signifies that the library eBook law may not stand. When determining if a preliminary injunction should be granted, a judge must evaluate four factors: “a likelihood of success on the merits; irreparable harm; winning the balance of equities; and that the injunction was in the public interest.”

As the court issued the injunction on behalf of the AAP, this suggests that the court likely deems that the law would’ve been harmful to publishers and that the AAP will likely succeed in getting the law struck down. Furthermore, the judge’s formal opinion states that the Maryland Act is probably a violation of federal copyright law.

The ramifications of this case will likely go beyond Maryland. As of late February, eight states have proposed bills similar to the Maryland Act, the latest being Connecticut. New York would’ve been the second state to put its own library eBook law into place if it weren’t for its governor’s veto. At the time, New York Governor Kathy Hochul expressed the AAP’s concern that the law would’ve violated federal copyright law.

So, what does this news mean for self-publishing authors? It depends on whether the law will survive court. As for now, the safest choice is to assume that the status quo will continue. Even if the Maryland Act doesn’t make it to the Supreme Court, a defeat in a lower court may deter other states from proposing and passing similar legislation.

It’s worth it for self-published authors to note that these laws are being proposed because large publishers have been stringent with making their books available electronically to libraries. For instance, Macmillan used to have an embargo on distributing eBooks to public libraries, a decision the publisher has since lifted.

Publishers also often demand high prices for licensing—which libraries find untenable—and they often refuse to negotiate licensing prices while imposing strict restrictions on lending.

Since big publishers license fewer eBooks and electronic copies to public libraries, self-publishers can benefit by seizing this gap. Self-published authors can license their books to public libraries through book distributors, the same services that allow authors to publish their books on multiple storefronts. Even with eBook formats, authors can still earn money when libraries obtain licenses.

On top of making their books available through lending services, self-published authors can also boost their discoverability by including bestselling books that are similar to their own in their book descriptions. This can work out to a small author’s benefit if the bestselling book isn’t available at the library, as the smaller book can still turn up in the library’s search results.

Separate from the legal merits of eBook library laws, large publishers seek to retain control of what eBooks they lend to libraries and how many. In this aspect, self-publishers can fill the gap left by these restrictions.

Self-Publishing News: 7.23.2019

July

And now for the news!

Some highlights from this month in the world of self-publishing!

Our first item of news is a fascinating one, coming this week from the GoodEReader’s Michael Kozlowski, who sets out to answer the question of “why are there so few places to buy ebooks?” The answer, he explains, is not quite as complex as you might think: the big distributors—all of which are familiar household names, from Amazon to Apple, Barnes and Noble to Kobo, and Google—already have created a collective monopoly, and they’re able to exert pressure on small startups by virtue of their existing partnerships with the Big 5 publishers (who would be distributing traditionally published ebooks) and major self-publishing companies (who would be distributing many self-published ebooks). Writes Kozlowski, “Starting an ebook store is challenging. Major publishers refuse to do business with anyone that wants to get involved in selling digital content, they have their small list of preferred vendors and that’s it.” It’s a difficult market to break into, and there are few structures in place to make it happen. And since competition is an engine of affordability, the availability of diverse options is something readers would definitely benefit from. Worth keeping in mind.

Adam Rowe of Forbes shows up for self-publishers everywhere yet again in this week’s article on book cover design, a subject we’ve discussed numerous times here on the blog ourselves. But first, what is the “7-second test”? Rowe explains:

You might not have heard of book cover design’s “7 second” test, but if you’ve ever wondered through a bookstore, you’ve undoubtedly tried it yourself. Pick up a book, glance at the front and back covers, and you’ll likely make the decision to either nestle it back on the shelf or seriously consider buying it. That tiny window of time is all an author has to sell their story, and it all comes down to a great book cover design.

With that in mind, authors have to pump up the visual appeal of their book covers in order to have a chance of out-competing fellow authors and seeing their books fly all the way from physical or digital bookstore shelves to the checkout aisle (or virtual checkout, as the case may be). Rowe has some suggestions, all of them good, from reflecting genre expectations to expressing emotion, crafting an attractive thumbnail image, keeping it simple, and ensuring it’s unique. Even in a digital age, when authors aren’t always holding physical books in their hands, Rowe implies, it’s important to consider all of the elements that go into making a beautiful and attractive book cover. A must-read article!

Last but not least, a sweet little article from Laura Hamm of The Bookseller, a privately-owned industry magazine and news engine. Writes Hamm,

I didn’t think I’d ever call myself part of the publishing industry, I’m still not sure I can. I started approaching stories with digital eyes, and have come full circle to print. So I’m now a double self-publisher – I started a self-publishing platform for kids, Fabled, and now I’m creating a book of kid-authored stories, The Future Is Make Believe (live on Kickstarter now). A strange sort of industry beast to be sure, but I think how I’ve grown may be of some interest to the traditional animals out there too.

Hamm’s goal is to render self-publishing accessible and useful to children, a population that by and large has been left untargeted by self-publishers. (There are reasons for that, including the prohibitive costs associated with producing beautiful hardbound books in all the various unusual sizes typical of picture books.) After describing her process and background in creating not just a platform but a book full of stories written by real kids, Hamm closes out with a moving endorsement for all self-publishing authors looking to reach kids:

I think the strange fluidity I’m in as I build my brand mirrors the way children interact with stories. Children are story first and format second – they don’t come with our snobbery about form. They play at Spiderman mashed up with Harry Potter, they read Winnie-the-Pooh, collect the Shopkins and watch Paw Patrol, and it is all fodder for their imagination. It all gets whirled and re-spun in daydreams and their stories. If we give them space to do it that is, if we listen. And I intend to.

We love that.


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As a self-publishing author, you may find it helpful to stay up-to-date on the trends and news related to the self-publishing industry.This will help you make informed decisions before, during and after the self-publishing process, which will lead to a greater self-publishing experience. To help you stay current on self-publishing topics, simply visit our blog each month to find out the hottest news. If you have other big news to share, please comment below.

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Self-Publishing News: 4.23.2019

the word "april" from the wooden letters

And now for the news!

Some highlights from this month in the world of self-publishing!

In a powerful interview with Verne Harnish—author, entrepreneur, and founder of the Entrepreneurs Organization (EO) as well as founder of global education and coaching firm Scaling Up—Thrive Global‘s Sara Connell gets to the bottom of why the long arc of self-publishing’s ongoing evolution has become so connected, in recent years, to movers and shakers in the world of business and financial investments. A part of it, Harnish hints, comes down to control: With self-publishing, the rapid changes constantly happening in the world of business pose no challenge to the applicability and usefulness of his books on the subject. In the world of traditional publishing, by contrast, books on business and entrepreneurship and finances are often outdated even before they hit the shelves—these are socioeconomic areas where life comes at you fast—and where publishers hesitate to even pick up titles as a result. The byproduct of this lopsided relationship has been a couple of fields where experts lean heavily on blogs, which are easy to confuse with similar blogs by inexpert folk and people with no authority, and a lot of misinformation. With self-publishing, on the other hand, the wisdom of experts like Harnish can be distilled down into distributable, authoritative forms that can then be updated as the fields themselves evolve. Says Harnish: “We update Scaling Up every six months. I have control of it. No one else is controlling my destiny. I get to keep control of my IP completely. And I can use the book as a real strategic tool to both grow its readership and support my business.” That’s a strength if ever we heard one!

Ever wondered why the e-book ownership situation is so complicated? Michael Kozlowski of The Good E-Reader is here with some thoughts on the matter, and the relationship between self-publishing and e-books. The long and the short of it, Kozlowski indicates, is that “Retailers welcome self-published works because they have better [return on investment] and make more money whenever an indie book is sold.” In reality, we never truly purchase e-books … we license them. But why aren’t we transparent about that fact? Writes Kozlowski: “companies could probably educate consumers about this reality. But they don’t. Probably because no one wants to click a button that says ‘license now’ or ‘rent until rights transfer to a new publisher.’ Instead, they bury this information in Terms of Service agreement, which, it is well documented, not very many people read. But is this information unsavory? Need it be obscured?” Now that is indeed an important question to ask.

Recently, one of our blog staff had the opportunity to sit in on a lovely panel hosted by the Multnomah County Library system as well as Ooligan Press, their local university press, at the Association of Writers and Writing Programs (#AWP19) conference in Portland, Oregon. Their Library Writers Program is pushing the edge of the envelope in new and interesting ways when it comes to developing partnerships between indie and self-publishing authors and their local purveyors of story. The long and the short of it is, MCL figured out how to host local authors’ self-published works on their website and for access through standard library reading apps (think the library equivalents to the Kindle app); after these e-books had been evaluated and distributed, the MCL staff were able to gauge popularity and readership data, and approached Ooligan Press to see if they would be interested in turning some of those e-books into print form. And Ooligan said yes! As a teaching press affiliated with Portland State University, an Ooligan representative noted at the conference, they were able to be more nimble and take risks on indie authors for reasons of scale. The result of this partnership has been the pickup of author Katie Grindeland’s The Gifts We Keep, which is now for sale in print form as a result of the partnership. The story, as told both in the article we’ve linked here and at the panel in Portland, is just one more delightful proof of evidence that libraries, indie presses, and self-publishing authors may just be the making of each other, rather than competitors. We can’t wait to see what comes next in MCL’s Library Writers Project!


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As a self-publishing author, you may find it helpful to stay up-to-date on the trends and news related to the self-publishing industry.This will help you make informed decisions before, during and after the self-publishing process, which will lead to a greater self-publishing experience. To help you stay current on self-publishing topics, simply visit our blog each month to find out the hottest news. If you have other big news to share, please comment below.

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Self-Publishing News: 5.28.2018 – Publishing Trends Roundup

memorial day

And now for the news!

Some highlights from this month in the world of self-publishing, specifically regarding publishing trends within the publishing industry, and their implications for all authors!

Well, I suppose the title of this article is a touch misleading: indie author Jonathan Kile didn’t actually trade away his love of or involvement in self-publishing for the titular road trip–but he did write about both in this excellent article for Tampa Bay’s Creative Loafing column, as excellent a place as any to find reflections on music, art, and lifestyle. In his column, Kile deliberates upon what exactly it looks and feels like to “take a moment” while self-publishing. The temptation, one assumes and Kile confirms, would be to constantly take work with you; after all, portability is one of the self-publishing author’s greatest freedoms. One of technology’s–and therefore self-publishing’s–greatest strengths may, in the end, make it hard to clear your head. And while it is, theoretically, possible to make edits to your manuscript and even your published book while tent camping in the Sierras, Kile’s column is the reminder we all need that sometimes it’s okay to take a step back, take a deep breath, and leave work at home.

Did you know that there’s an annual self-publishing summit in Durban, South Africa? One of the most amazing aspects of taking part in this blog is learning about the global self-publishing movement, and how the tools we know and love here in North America are empowering and enabling indie authors all around the world to craft their platforms and find their audiences. The Durban Self-publishing Summit 2018 was by all accounts (including this one from Berea Mail) a great success, and if you’re in the area or will be around this time next year, it might just be worth penciling into your calendar for 2019. Here’s to many more successful self-publishing summits in far-flung places we hope to visit!

If you’ve spent much time around book blogs, you’ll know that we are often a bit … snobby. And don’t get me wrong, snobbery and gatekeeping is one of life’s finest pleasures … so long as you’re using it as an avenue to celebrate books and open up doors for authors, not the reverse. And it has long been an assumption, these days entirely unfounded, that self-published books suffer from poor cover design. But as this fabulous article from The Bookseller makes plain, it’s time for this particular brand of snobbery to disappear into the void. Writes Stuart Bache, the initial wave of self-published books may have struggled more with design simply because of tight budgets and limited options. These days, he goes on to say, are different. Writes Bache: “We had only dipped our toe into the self-publishing world for mere seconds before we were swept up in its authors’ enthusiasm and positive attitude towards publishing. Even on a tight budget. some of our indie clients were doing phenomenally well. There are entire communities on Facebook where an author can ask for advice about marketing and ask for recommendations for editors and designers they can use – the support network is one of the best.” Self-publishing companies like Outskirts Press offer design services, as do many independent contractors and graphic designers. These days, it’s much easier to craft a beautiful book, and Bache’s article for The Bookseller goes a long way toward pointing out options if you yourself are looking for a good place to start.

Do you know that old saying, “The King is dead. Long live the King”? Well, while traditional publishing is a long way from dead, the new kid on the block is definitely on the ascendant. This article from Frank Catalano of GeekWire is packed with good news for indie and self-publishing authors, and we all need a bit of good news after the last quarterly reports from Barnes & Noble. Writes Catalano, “Over a thousand independent authors surpassed $100,000 in royalties in 2017 through Kindle Direct Publishing,” and many of the statistics pertinent to indie authors are not included in the general publishing reports, including those for ebooks. If indie authors are discounted, ebook sales continue to drop as they have done ever since publishers won the right to raise ebook prices in 2015. If indie authors are included, writes Catalano, the numbers are much less dire for authors as a whole, although they certainly indicate that the healthiest portion of the ebook industry lies firmly toward the indie and self-published end of things. Long story short: Catalano breaks down the numbers (and uses infographics!) to explain just what is up with ebooks in 2017 and the first half of 2018. Well worth a look!


spa-news

As a self-publishing author, you may find it helpful to stay up-to-date on the trends and news related to the self-publishing industry.This will help you make informed decisions before, during and after the self-publishing process, which will lead to a greater self-publishing experience. To help you stay current on self-publishing topics, simply visit our blog every Monday to find out the hottest news. If you have other big news to share, please comment below.

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