Don’t Forget Paperbacks

The focus for most indie authors are ebooks. They’re cheaper to produce, easier to market to readers due to a plethora of reasons (mostly the price, though), and they require significantly less time to format them. While the internet has made it easier to publish books and read books, it still doesn’t replace the power of paperbacks.

Last month I was figuring out my publishing numbers (sales, revenue, expenses) and I made a very surprising discovery: for book sales, I made the most money from paperbacks. What’s more was that figure represented my income when my catalog was just starting out.

Let take a look at the numbers:

August-December 2015:
The Blood Moon – $113.93 from paperbacks ($41.97 of which were in-person sales)
Snow After Christmas – $4.86 (no in-person sales)*

January-March 2016:
The Blood Moon – $57.09 from paperbacks ($41.97 of which were in-person sales)
The Full Moon – $91.92 ($69.54 in-person sales)

*Snow After Christmas is a holiday short story

To further put things into perspective, because I was just starting out, I made $433.17 in this time period of just over six months (newbie figures). I made $267.80 from paperbacks, meaning 62% of my income was from paperbacks.

I’ve always thought paperbacks were seriously ignored by indies, but this data proves that they’re worth something. Obviously, this data is tailored to me and my books, but it doesn’t mean that anyone can’t push their paperbacks as much as their ebooks and make more money per sale.

The funny thing is, the same shopping behaviors apply to readers of paperbacks. When I put out The Full Moon, I sold copies of both that book and The Blood Moon. The sell-through is still there.

Like with ebooks, these numbers will likely grow with the more books I put out. I recently bought an inventory of all of my paperbacks and will be more aggressive in selling them face-to-face or online from me directly.

Maintaining inventory can be expensive, but the amount of money you make per sale is more, depending on how you set your prices. Don’t inflate your paperback prices to make your ebooks more appealing. You might sell more ebooks, but how many ebooks are you going to have to sell to make what you could’ve made from one paperback sale (at a reasonable price)?

I’d like to explore setting up a table at a fair or a festival and selling books that way. I know some indies say they usually don’t sell very many but, like everything, I have to try it for myself. If I would’ve ignored paperbacks like all the other indies said, I wouldn’t have made more than half my book income these past six months.

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