Discover more from Erica Drayton Writes
E-Book First, Print Book Much Later
As most of my friends or colleagues who've heard me speak ad nauseam about e-books, they'll tell you, "I'm dead-set against them." But in that context, I'm speaking from a place of personal preference. The idea of reading a book from an author I love (or I'm newly discovering) on a digital device, just doesn't appeal to me. I much prefer the feel of a hardback or paperback. The rough pages. The slight creak as you open a brand new book and the simple act of turning each page to unleash more of the story. I'm nostalgic that way. However, I see the added benefits an advancement like e-books can have on an ever-growing and ever-changing industry known as the "self-published author." Allow me to explain:
BENEFITS OF AN E-BOOK
From the perspective of an indie author, it can be damn near terrifying to release one's work into the world. Many of us know the hard work and dedication we poured into the story and every single word. But many also know the corners that may (or may not) have been cut to get to the point of sitting in front of their computer screen, Amazon KDP staring them in the face and that lovely "PUBLISH" button just waiting to be clicked. We want to put it out there. In our heart of hearts, we fear "it may not be ready." But we figure if we make enough sales then we can put the resources we couldn't afford from this release into future releases. What harm could it do? In most cases, it can do irreparable harm. But there is some form of hope on the horizon, at least from an e-book perspective.
Now, I am in NO WAY saying this should be the business model by which all indie authors should follow. In fact, I advocate saving up the money to pay for the things we all already know a book requires before publication. It's just the right thing to do. However, that's not to say even traditionally published works don't have typo's they quickly go back and correct (when found). We all make mistakes as we are all human. And here is where I go back to that horizon I mentioned earlier.
Did you know that if you release an e-book and you make, let's say five sales, and weeks or months later you discover a butt-load of errors in your manuscript, you can "push" an updated manuscript to those who purchased your e-book? That's right! This is a universal concept across all major e-book seller platforms. Amazon KDP, Barnes & Noble, Kobo, etc. Now, this may not be the case if someone were to purchase your e-book directly from you on your website. In that instance, you should keep a record of whoever made a purchase (ie their email address) and then you can follow-up if you need to send them an update and direct them on how to remove the old file and upload a new one. This would be true in the case of Patreon (for example).
But let's jump back for a second, as most first-time new self-published authors are likely to use Amazon KDP. If this is the case, get that e-book ready to go and breath easy knowing that if you need to update the file, they have you covered. Because they'll either alert the buyer to a new version and it's a simple process to update their file or in most cases an avid kindle reader has already changed their personal settings to just update a file should there be a new one for a previously purchased book.
PITFALLS OF RELEASING A PRINT BOOK ALONGSIDE THE E-BOOK
Now, these same new self-published authors (present company included) would be tempted to ALSO publish their print book. I mean, come on. To be able to HOLD that book in your hands and the idea of total strangers doing the same? That's just about ever authors dream! But we do not possess the resources of a traditional publisher. We know if our work is just not on the level it should be. We may not be able to admit it publicly but we should at least admit it to ourselves.
And therefore, if you KNOW your work will likely require a manuscript update do yourself (and your perspective customer) a favor and DO NOT PUBLISH THE PRINT BOOK! By all means, get the author copy of it in print form. You deserve the right to have it on your shelf and flip through it for multiple read throughs. All that jazz. But remember, an updated file for an e-book is automatic and painless to the reader (depending on just how extensive your updated file is). But if you update a print book file, that basically means whoever purchased it before the update is NOT going to automatically get those changes. You will forever have a sub-par book out there in the world. For me, that stings. It still does. Don't make my mistakes.
If you do research on many self-published authors you'll discover releasing the e-book first and then the print book several months later is not uncommon. And those who release them simultaneously, what is their library like? Do they already have dozens of books out there? If so, it's safe to assume, they are putting in the financial resources necessary to know their book is as close to perfect as humanly possible and the number of corrections will be next to nothing, if any. Many of us are not in a position to say that, yet. We still have to earn our stripes.
And I know what you're thinking, you've seen plenty of first time authors releasing both and again, you have to look at the other factors we may or may not know. Maybe they have the financial means to apply resources on their first book? If so, good for them. Or maybe they are taking a gamble and it will likely not pay off. Readers are not easily fooled. If you try to pull a fast one on them it will only work one time and after that they are lost to you forever.
Better to own up (with a foreword or preface) in your e-book about the reasons why there is no print book yet but there will be in the future. Readers will respect and forgive honesty but they will never forget being sold a rotten bill of goods.
Don't be rotten. Be honest. Don't be overzealous. Be patient.