Digital Vs. Print: A Self-Publisher’s Debate


Being my own publisher means I work as writer, editor, marketer and more to get the job done. I get to make all my own decisions and I don’t have to answer to anyone but myself. That also means, though, that I incur all the costs of publication. And it means, too, that I have to ask myself the hard questions.

Right now, the hard question going forward is: Do I continue to publish both for print and digital?

Here’s the thing: it would cost me a lot less to get a cover designed and my manuscript formatted if I chose to simply go the digital route and forgo the print version. In total, if I continue to work with my current designer and formatter and I chose to just do only a digital release, I’d save about $200.

The other end of the publishing spectrum is royalties. I make twice as much in royalties off of the e-book versus the print book. The majority of the cost of my $12 book on Amazon goes back to them for printing and shipping. The rest, I keep. With an e-book, there are no overhead costs. So, I keep the majority of what my readers pay for the story. The problem is, I love having a finished physical book. It’s great for doing events and other sales gigs. It’s also great for doing autographs. Alternatives just aren’t as satisfying. And you can’t really sign a digital copy. So what’s a writer to do?

As I’m working through the last few steps of Withered World, the issue of whether or not to continue having printed files made has become a point I can’t ignore. While the dream is to one day live off of my fiction writing, the reality is, this is my hobby and that’s not likely to happen. I have a day job that pays my bills and helps me save for retirement. I put way more money into publishing then I’ll ever get out of it. I went into that gig knowing this. I’ve been writing stories since I was in elementary school and I’ve been dreaming of writing and publishing novels since my middle grade years. As a practical (or semi-practical) adult, I will obviously continue to write and put my stories out there because I enjoy writing and maybe, just maybe, someday I’ll write something that everyone wants to read.

Regarding Withered World, I’ve already paid for a print and e-book cover. So, for my current project, I’ll be publishing both an e-book and a printed softcover version and I’m really excited about it. I’m having a big joint book release party with a couple of my writer friends who are also releasing stories this fall. It’s going to be a great time! But going forward? I could see myself making the difficult decision of skipping the print version…But then again, there’s nothing more satisfying than a finished product, a really physical book, to make you feel like you’ve really accomplished something.

I suppose I could always start off with the digital version and if I decide later to upgrade to a printed version, I could do so fairly easily and drop the extra cash at a later date. That’s the beauty of working with the awesome freelancers that I’ve found. They’re responsive and passionate about partnering with me on projects. For now, just know that Withered World is coming and you’ll be able to choose between a print and e-book version. I can’t wait to share this new work with you!

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