When I first published my fantasy novel, Gift of the Phoenix, I almost didn’t offer it in paperback. I knew as an Indie author I wouldn’t have national distribution in book stores. I figured most of my sales would be digital. After all, we’re in the middle of the e-book publishing revolution, are we not?
But I wanted copies for myself, my kids, my parents. People like that. And I wanted readers who preferred print to be able to get it that way.
Little did I know how critical offering those paperbacks would become to my career.
Here are 4 benefits I didn’t expect:
1. More Opportunities to Connect with Readers
I’ve done book signings in Idaho, Utah, and Arizona. I’ve signed my books at regional events and national fantasy conventions.
My print book has found loyal readership outside the Amazon e-book paradigm. And there is no underestimating the value of a loyal reader.
Also, it’s just plain fun. I love talking to readers. I love the energy at the conventions. All experiences I would have missed out on.
2. Timely Encouragement
In the beginning, while I struggled to figure out online marketing and had lackluster e-book sales to prove it, I would have been tempted to quit.
Over and over, the following things kept me going:
A real live person, standing in front of me, reading the back of my book, then looking at me with excitement. “Oooh! Sounds interesting!”
Someone coming to a signing just to tell me how much they loved the book.
Significant sales at nearly every event.
These are the kind of things that kept me going. When I wondered if my book was any good, these face-to-face experiences helped me feel I had something worth fighting for.
3. Market Research
Aside from seeing the positive reactions to the cover and the back-of-the-book blurb, I was able to test the reaction to the cover for the next book before it even releases.
My husband, Kevin McCain, happens to be a professional artist and illustrator. He created my amazing Phoenix (I hear kudos to the illustrator at every event).
While I was signing print books at fantasy conventions this summer, dear hubby sat in my booth and worked on the illustration for the next book.
I got a live, unfiltered view of readers’ reactions to the illustration. Their enthusiasm assured me that this cover will do what I need it to do. There’s no better market research than that.
4. Significantly More Sales
Almost EIGHTY PERCENT of my sales are in paperback.
That’s 80% more readers than I would have had if I had decided publishing print books was a waste of time. My book being read by an actual reader is, after all, the entire point.
Which leads me to…
5. Bonus Result Number Five
My book has made its way into libraries. It’s difficult to calculate the effect of this, but I can tell you that the local libraries, at least, often have a waiting list for my book.
I totally dig that.
Those paperback copies are pulling their weight and finding readers.
I didn’t foresee any of this, but I can’t tell you how many times I’ve felt grateful for that decision to offer my book in print. The book industry is tough, no matter how you look at it. Interacting with readers at shows and signings has been absolutely invaluable.
If you’re one of those readers, I give you a wink and a smile.