It means you test the market before you start spending money on your book.
I love physical books. I love the feel, the smell, the texture of them. I love the way they sit on my bookshelf, on my bedside, and between the covers. I sleep with them. And I wake up with them.
I bought my Kindle seven years ago; all this time, I only downloaded free eBooks. My rationale was if I was to spend money, why spend them on ebooks when I can buy print books.
It was not until last year, during the lockdown when was not frequenting the book stores, that bought some digital books. It was convenient, I didn’t have to wait for many weeks for the books to arrive, and I didn’t have to pay the shipment fee (which is substantial since I live in Australia).
The books were on all my devices within a minute, and I could read them on any device — my phone, iPhone, computer, or Kindle.
Now I am buying a lot of books as digital books. In fact, just today I bought in last two weeks I have bought seven books and before that, eight last week.
Now, this was from a reader’s perspective.
Let have a look at it from the writer’s perspective.
Advantages of launching your book as an ebook first.
Test the market.
Printed books cost a lot of money. You would need to get the book formatted, typeset, and proofread. You also need to invest in a professional book cover, book description, and back cover blurb. All these efforts cost a lot of money.
Since Amazon changed the whole book industry by introducing Kindle in November 2007, the option to publish your book as an ebook has enabled writers to test the market before spending money on their books.
E. L. James published her book Fifty Shades of Grey as an ebook before getting picked by Vintage Books and sold over 125 million copies. After being rejected by literary agents, Andy Weir put The Martian online for free, one chapter at a time.
Launch your book at zero cost.
This is even better than traditional publishing. You can keep all the rights to your book, have complete creative control, and still can launch your book at zero cost. Amazon doesn’t charge you anything, neither does any other platform to put your book out there.
Sell directly from your website.
Publish your book as a digital book allows you to sell it directly from your website, eliminating the need to go through any platform. Many authors are doing that now. Particularly non-fiction authors.
You can sell your book at a much lower price than Amazon or other platforms, and money appears in your account straight away.
Many professionals use their books as a free giveaway to establish their creditability and build their mailing lists. While it could be expensive with physical books, it can be done at zero cost.
But of course, you can launch your book as a print version at the same time.
Print-on-demand has changed the landscape of physical books, just like Kindle changed the digital books.
Gone are the days when you have to empty your garage to store 5000 copies of your book. I know the stories of many authors who did just that. Needless to say, they were not able to sell their books and ended up dumping them in recycling bins.
Print-on-demand service means your book can be printed one book at a time. They are a bit expensive than the eBooks, but you as an author do not have to put in any money upfront.
Of course, you will have to invest in getting your book ready for publishing (professional book cover, formatting, and typeset). Once you have done all that, you can upload your files, and your book can be available to order within 24 hours. It is incredibly quick to get your books up for sale.
Amazon runs an awesome print-on-demand service. Many authors are impressed with their quality.
If you want to go wide (which means not exclusive to Kindle and available on other platforms), IngramSpark and Draft2Digital are the companies you can go through.
Penguin Random House chairman and CEO Markus Dohle recently stated that it is the best time for publishing. Global book marketing is growing every year. People are spending more money on books than ever before. Industry revenue is growing, and there is a stable, robust business model for both physical and digital distribution and a healthy coexistence between digital and physical formats.