I crammed three dick jokes into that title.
Hi. My name is Robert Bevan, and I write hilarious fantasy novels and short stories. On this blog, I often write about my experiences as a self-published author. In this post I’ll be discussing hard copies of books (specifically paperbacks published via Createspace). For those of you who came here looking to read about dicks, I’m afraid you’re going to be disappointed. Sorry, but thanks for the click.
Now let’s get started. You know what’s kind of a pain in the ass?
Come on, man. I thought we were past that. If you want to read about dicks, you can click here.
The answer I was looking for was “Formatting a paperback book for a Createspace print edition.” It’s not simply a matter of copying and pasting your Kindle-formatted book onto a new file and sending it off to Createspace. You’ve got to deal with things like page numbers, headers, lining up tables of contents, maybe changing the font, calculating the spine width for the cover... all that shit. And if you’re anything like me, you have to learn it all over again every time you release a new book, because it’s been so long since the last time you’ve done it. Is all of that hassle even worth it when the vast, vast majority of your sales are going to be ebooks anyway?
Of course it is, you fat, lazy bastard!
What the hell are you people still doing here? I told you there aren’t going to be any dicks in this post. Now go on, get out of here.
It’s absolutely worth putting in the effort to have hard copies available. Here are some reasons why...
1. You never want to deny a customer access to your book in the format they want it in.
Sure, you may never sell many hard copies of your book, and (depending on how you choose to price it) you may not make very much money from those that you do sell. Some people prefer to hold an actual physical book in their hands. Those meager sales are still sales, representing that many more people who could be telling other people about your literary masterpiece. Paperback reviews get lumped together with ebook reviews, and you likely already know how hard reviews are to come by.
That’s it. I’m calling security.
Paperback sales also count toward your Amazon author rank in your particular category. Breaking into the top 100 is har– difficult enough as it is. Every little bit helps.
2. Paperbacks are much more visible.
Let’s say I’m on the subway, and the guy sitting across from me is reading your book on some little electronic device, and he’s laughing or crying uncontrollably because the power of your words hit him that hard. I don’t know that. From where I’m sitting, he could just be a crazy man. Or maybe he’s watching a video of a hobo jerking off in a phone booth.
I have no idea what he’s reacting to. But what if he’s having the same reaction while holding a paperback copy of your book? Then I have something to be curious about. I just might jot down that title and check it out later.
Same thing goes for when I’m at a friend or neighbor’s house and I see your book on their bookshelf or coffee table, or at the bottom of their panty drawer, or whatever. I might ask that person about it, or just stuff it down my pants in a panic and feign a sudden illness to get out of there. You just picked up a new potential fan.
You can’t make your readers do your advertising for you, but you can certainly give them the option.
3. It makes a hell of a business card.
We’ve all been there. You and the hooker you picked up downtown are sharing a cigarette in your car after the fact. You’re both covered in sweat (mostly yours), and you’re starting to feel guilty about talking her down to $65 because that’s all you could get out of the ATM. You want to give her a little something extra because she didn’t complain when you put your finger in her butt. You consider giving up your Subway frequent buyer’s card, but you’re two stamps away from a free sub! If only there were... wait a minute... you spot an old paperback copy of your novel under a pile of Burger King wrappers on the back seat. Bingo.
You wipe the dust and ketchup off the cover, open to the title page, and write a nice inscription.
Or it could work just as well with anyone you’d like to make a special impression on. It’s a lot more personal (and less likely to be thrown away) than a standard business card, and you can order as many copies of your book for yourself as you want, for only a few bucks a piece, from Createspace. There’s every chance that T-Fanny might actually read your book, and even go on to buy your other ones once her acting career finally takes off.
4. If someone sees you signing it...
Here’s a true story. A couple of weeks ago, I met a friend who I hadn’t seen for a long time in a bar in Seoul. He wanted to see me one last time before my family and I moved to the United States. I brought along a copy of my book, Critical Failures, to give him. He asked me to write something funny in it while he went to the bathroom. So I thought for a minute, wrote something on the title page, signed it, and closed the book.
The waiter, at this point, had just arrived at our table with fresh beers. He looked at me in awe and said, “Are you Robert Bevan?”, as if that actually meant something to him. This guy had never heard of me, but he saw me signing a book and read my name on the cover.
If you’re a writer, you’re probably associated with a bunch of other writers, and consequently hear a lot of hullabaloo about how nobody takes self-published writers very seriously. But what I got out of this little encounter was that the average Joe on the street doesn’t give a fuck who publishes a book. And that goes double for hard copies. I mean, that’s got a fucking barcode on it and shit. That’s the real deal.
What’s my point with this entry? Am I saying you should bring a copy of your book with you every time you go to a restaurant and sign it while your server is clearing away your dishes? For the sake of hearing your embarrassing stories in the comments section, sure. That’s exactly what I’m saying.
5. Something for the fans.
If you’re writing books that people want to read, and you’re getting them in front of the eyes of those people who want to read them, you’re going to pick up some fans. The story may not be enough for some of them. They want a piece of you. Something you touched. Something you signed. Something you breathed heavily on or rubbed against your genitals.
One of the most exciting things for me about moving back to the U.S. is that I can now offer my readers signed paperbacks at a reasonable shipping price. (The comments section would love to know how many of you are interested in that sort of thing.)
Get enough fans (or at least one fan with a venue), and you might even be able to score a book signing. The signing I did last year was a blast.
Being physical objects which cost actual money to produce, your paperback books may never fly off the e-shelves like your ebooks or audiobooks, but that doesn’t mean they aren’t just as important for those of you who are creative enough to leverage their potential.