Let's compare a few publishing models authors might consider: traditionally-published books, self-published books, and e-books. Each as their own benefits. For example:

  • Traditional Publishing - There's a certain amount of respect that comes from being a published author, you're often paid an advance, and there's a publisher to help with the marketing of your book.
  • Self-Publishing - You can become a self-published author without getting tied up in delays and politics of pitching your book and dealing with editors. You also may get a higher profit margin per-book.

E-books seem to be the last option considered by many serious authors (other than offering free e-books for promotional purposes), and that baffles me. Let's talk a little bit today about the benefits e-books have over other publishing models available to authors, and why snubbing them might not be such a good idea.

Benefits of E-book Publishing

  • People will often pay significantly more for an e-book from an industry expert than a print book. Why? Because they want the instant gratification.
  • There are far fewer costs generally involved in e-book publishing than traditional publishing (no printing or shipping for example), which further increases the profit potential of e-books. Even if you sell through affiliates, the portion left after their payouts is often more than a total traditional book sale (even before considering those extra print costs).
  • E-books have the ability to go viral whereas print books do not.
  • You still get the benefits of self-publishing.
  • E-books from reputable professionals do carry a good bit of credibility. Many industries ignore this fact and still snub the medium because they're simply ignorant. If your primary target market consists of heavy Internet users, e-books may even be a better option for you than print books as far as sales potential goes.
  • E-book distribution can be automatic. Aside from marketing your e-book, the sales process can be completely automated - no emailing the e-book to buyers, no manually processing any payments, etc.
  • E-books can be sold through highly-motivated affiliates. Sure, books have affiliate programs too (think Amazon.com). But they payouts to affiliates are usually dismal. E-book affiliates can earn half or more of the sale price (a reason e-books are often priced higher in addition to the instant gratification convenience). If you sell an e-book for $40, and your affiliates are getting $20 per sale, they tend to be enormously more motivated to promote your product than someone making a few cents to a few dollars at most per hard copy book sale.

That's not to say that e-books are perfect. You still have to invest time into effectively marketing them. You have to compete with a lot of poor quality e-books, and get past the stigma sometimes attached to them. And you have to set up your distribution channel or process.

Overall though, e-books are a publishing opportunity worth pursuing, especially if you're concerned about expanding income opportunities for your writing. If nothing else, e-books can be a nice supplement to self-published print books, and even some traditional publishers are now offering e-book versions of their print titles. They're certainly not being ignored, so don't overlook the option.

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