Damn it! Who Knew Print Books Were Still Important?
Last month I had a bit of an epiphany that in hindsight should have slapped me on the head a year ago.
People like print books, even though the topic is about something completely digital.
A lot of you may be saying ‘duh – exactly how long has it been since you picked up a real book – not the square plastic kind?’ But I’m hoping that you e-book authors out there kind of get where I’m coming from.
I speak around Australia delivering seminars and workshops for writing centres and conferences on a variety of topics, but most often it is e-books for beginners. What a great opportunity to build a repour over a couple of hours and sell my e-book E-Book Revolution: The Ultimate Guide To E-book Success, right?
Thing is, I haven’t sold one book from a single one of my speaking gigs. Why? Because the people who come to my workshops don’t actually understand how e-books work and more often than not, have never even read one. Wouldn’t even know how to go about getting one on their reader. And by the time they got over their all consuming fear of technology and actually found out how easy it was, knowledge of my book would be so far removed from their brain they wouldn’t even stop at the cover as they scanned the pages of Amazon. Even if they do already have a reader, they have to remember when they get home to pull their reader out, log onto their e-book store of choice, search for, and then purchase my book. Let’s face it; people have trouble deciding whether or not they want the free paper at the train station, why would they go to the four step trouble of purchasing my e-book when they just had a 6 hour session with me? It doesn’t matter how much further I tell them the book goes, I’ve sent them out of that room with a brain meltdown, the chances of them buying are zero to eating dog food.
So even though I believe that having a print book about how to make an e-book is the most pointless, and ironic, idea I’ve ever heard of, if I want to see that book bought by the audience that is most likely to use it and review it, I have to go to more traditional means. The more I thought about it, the more I realised that to make speaking gigs worthwhile, I had to actually have something physical to sell people. Even my fiction books, which are aimed at a YA audience, need a physical product, whether it’s a print book or something I can sell them that represents my e-book.
I held a How to Create E-books workshop for teens during the last holidays, and the kids were super keen when I told them about my fiction books set in Facebook. Abusive umbrellas? Super hero chameleons? Getting mistaken for a spy by the FBI? Heck yes! But because I didn’t have anything they could get their parents to buy off me at the time, or anything they could purchase with pocket money, again I made no sales of my fiction e-books from the gig. As I was planning to do more speaking gigs for teens I had to figure out, how do I sell them my books?! Even though teenagers are huge users of technology and readers of e-books, they don’t have credit cards and must rely on their parents to purchase their e-books for them. The chances of you getting through the gatekeeper that is a budget pressed parent? About as good as getting a Luddite to purchase an e-book about e-books.
So if I wanted my writing career to survive past the days people actually knew I existed because I was in their face like a bad smell, I had to come up with a solution for two problems:
- How do I create a print copy of my book?
- How do I sell my e-books to the person standing opposite me with the memory of a goldfish?
While I am secretly working on a way to sell e-books in person with the help of the awesome team at Tomely (all of which will be revealed in goodtime on this blog), I have also embarked upon the daring mission to convert my three e-books to print books via Lightning Source.
Why not use an easier service like CreateSpace or Lulu you may ask? Well, it’s because of quality. I’ve seen the books that come out of CreateSpace with the covers that peel after three sessions with a book or come out of the pack, covers scratched and corners bent. Heck, when I wanted to edit my fantasy manuscript I actually created a proof copy in CreateSpace so that I could look at the text in a different format (the best way to help you pick up typos). The book was wrecked within a week, after my whole family had read it, it looked like it was five years old. Whereas Lightning Source is a service used by publishers around the world for their POD ranges. Yes it is hard to navigate, and a pain to deal with, but it produces that high quality work that distinguishes your book from that of a vanity publisher.
I’ve never attempted to do print on demand before, so this is a whole new field to me. I’m excited, and a little bit nervous, because I have decided to share the whole process on this blog. From design, to set up, to ISBN’s to pricing decisions. Everything. I want this blog to be the definitive place you go to make dealing with Lightning Source a walk in the park.
First stop on the road to POD and next week’s blog?
Converting your e-book cover to a print one. Here’s a sneak peek of one of my covers below. What do you think?
Have you done POD before? Why did you do it? What were your major troubles? Share your thoughts in the comments below. Encouragement as I fight my way through would be greatly appreciated!!!