Should Self-Published Authors Release eBooks Only?

Reference & EducationWriting & Speaking

  • Author William Edwards
  • Published April 18, 2016
  • Word count 535

As the new reality in publishing continues to evolve, self-published authors are increasingly frustrated when they hit the proverbial book marketing brick wall. The future couldn’t be more promising for authors in terms of producing marketable work since there are limitless choices for editing, publishing, cover design and other services. Unfortunately, once a book is ready for release, effective book marketing strategies are almost non-existent.

Should Self-Publishers Avoid Hardcopy Books?

Sales figures for self published eBooks are readily accessible. According to a study done in February, 2014, single-author publishers accounted for 14 percent of all eBook sales. While revenue to the author lags, authors who self publish should be encouraged that they are receiving significant exposure in the eBook market, which represents 27 percent of all books sold. However, on the print side, self-published authors are barely making a dent. In fact, looking at the Nielsen Bookscan Top 500 every week would reveal that self-published paperback books account for less than one percent of the total bestseller listings.

The reality that hard-copy self-published books are almost impossible to sell is primarily driven by printing costs and the lack of brick and mortar bookstore accessibility. For example, look at the following two book listings in the horror genre on Amazon:

The Long Walk Kindle Edition

by Stephen King (Author)

4.1 out of 5 stars 1,279 customer reviews

See all 15 formats and editions





1 New from $14.68

Mass Market Paperback


62 Used from $0.01

64 New from $3.62

1 Collectible from $15.00

The Suicide Society Paperback – March 24, 2015

by William Brennan Knight (Author)

4.7 out of 5 stars 9 customer reviews


$2.99 to buy


$15.63 5 Used from $15.049 New from $10.86

Self published authors generally elect to use POD (print on demand) publishing options to costs and produce books as they are sold. Conversely, established authors take advantage of offset printing technology to produce thousands of books in a single run. As of this writing, Stephen King, who already has an enormous following, can sell his new paperback book at $7.19 a copy while unknown Brennan-Knight must charge $15.63 to cover costs and make a small profit. Who do you think will win in this game?

Publishing hardcover or paperback books for vanity and promotion may make sense, but it is only in the world of eBooks that the playing field is level. Back to our previous example: Stephen King wants $7.99 for the eBook version of his novel while Brennan-Knight wants $2.99. Would a 63 percent discount in price compel you to choose the Brennan-Knight book that currently has nine favorable reviews over the King book? Maybe and maybe not, but at least Brennan-Knight has given himself a fighting chance. Coupled with the lack of accessibility for self-published hardcover books at local bookstores and the disadvantages are overwhelming.

eBooks sales seem to have settled in at a steady 25-30 percent of the entire market, although those figures only include sales reported by established publishers. In fact, some experts estimate the total eBook market at closer to 50 percent of all book sales. In any event, your book marketing efforts should focus on selling competitively priced eBooks as you strive to gain an audience. Low-cost book marketing websites like The Hidden Author can help you gain the momentum required to raise your sales ranking with Amazon and other online book retailers.

William Edwards is an editor and contributor with The Hidden Author, which is a website that uses a unique membership system to help self-published authors increase their sales and reviews.

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