Generally, novels appear in hardcover and e-book first and then are released in audio and paperback later. Non-fiction tends to skip the hardcover to go straight to paperback and e-book…with audio saved for later. Then there’s self-published books which have a wide range of options. Usually these books are only available in e-book until it does well enough to justify the expenses to create a paperback version. Hardcover and audio are almost never achieved in this category unless the book becomes a sensation and is picked up by a publisher. There are a few traditional and self-published authors out there who don’t follow these rules, but this is based off the majority.
So, is there a perfect formula? Is following the mold a good fit for you? Or would it be better to break out a try something different?
If you are traditionally published, you won’t have to worry about what version your book will appear because your publisher will choose for you and they usually base it on the genre. This makes your book available in more formats earlier than most self-pub writers. Variety is the key to success. Everyone has their preferences. Print books aren’t dying (like some people claim). Although the digital age is well established, there are still a large portion of readers who prefer hardcover and paperback books. Audiobooks is a rising trend that caters to the convenience of readers. All these formats have merit, so why not strive for them all?
Whether you intend to be published traditionally or plunge into self-publishing, it’s important not to discard a format just because you are unfamiliar or biased. The more readers you can connect with the better it is for you. You can also podcast your book or post it on your site. Granted, you only want to do this if you care more about getting readers than making an actual living with your project. It can be beneficial if it helps you gain a following for later projects, but remember that just because you’re a writer doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t be paid for your time.
Pros and Cons
Hardcover, when self-publishing, can be expensive. This is why many selfers avoid it like the plague or they charge high amounts in order to make a minor profit. There are people who prefer hardcover books and may not purchase anything less. This margin or readers is small, but certain genres might be better suited with providing a hardcover edition.
Paperback is cheaper to both you and the reader. It’s a very economical benefit. If you ever consider self-pub, I would always suggest to have a paperback edition.
E-book is even cheaper to writer and reader, and is a must. It’s highly convenient for your audience. Just be sure to create your E-book with a well-reputed program.
Audiobook is a growing phenomenon. It may not be the cheapest thing to create, but it could be very worth the time, money, and effort. People who were never big readers are beginning to listen to audiobooks in free moments (on their commute, in the kitchen, etc.) You don’t want to miss out on readers who strictly listen to books in their spare time.
Blogging or Podcasting you book will not bring you a direct profit, but it may bring you an audience. Many writers who have offered their books in this venue have seen the following increase. When you are eventually published, they are more likely to buy your book if they know that they like you writing. However, this is all hypothetical. You have to be able to market your book in order to gain this following. It can be a risk, and once you’ve offered your book for free, it is almost impossible to get that same book published.
Having a wide reange of formats for your novel would be the best overall. However, each project needs to be considered individually. If you’re picked up by a publishing house, you don’t need to worry unless their contract doesn’t included a format that you feel is necessary. Self-pubbers need to do the research and make a game-plan for their project. Picking which formats your novel should be available in can either move it forward or kill it where it stands. Choose wisely.