Choosing your book publishing format is not something that most authors think about very much. But the format you choose for your book can have a huge impact on what you can achieve by becoming an author.

Of course, you can choose to publish in more than one format, and it is common for most books to be produced in Kindle as well as print formats these days. However, each format has its own distinct advantages and disadvantages, and each can work differently for your book and your business.

Deciding on your publishing format will affect everything else you do in relation to your book: your budget, your marketing, your schedule and how much you write. So, if you need to make a decision about the format of your book, this article may help you to clear the confusion and choose the best format for your book.

A primary format

The first decision you need to make is what format you primarily want to publish your book in. You need a primary format to focus on when you first publish your book so you can devise the best sales and marketing strategy for your launch. If you decide to focus on print, for example, it does not mean you do not produce a Kindle version, it simply means you will seek to maximise the impact of the printed version before going on to promote and sell the Kindle version later.

Choosing a primary publishing format will enable you to make key decisions about your book before you start writing, such as the length, price, budget, schedule etc. For example, print books work better if they are longer but Kindle books work better if they are shorter. If you know you want to focus on achieving your publishing goals with a print book, you will need to select a topic, title, budget and schedule that suit a longer, printed book.

Of course you can, and probably will, choose to convert your book into Kindle format at the same time as you produce your printed book so that later on in the life of your book, you can take advantage of KDP Select and maximise your Kindle sales. By focusing on one format at a time, you can maximise the sales of each. This way, your print book sales won’t interfere with your Kindle sales and your Kindle sales will not detract from your print book sales.

Print

If you want your book to work for you in print you will need to invest more time and money into it because a printed book needs more design and editorial input. As a result, you may need to price your book quite high in order to make any money (if that is your goal). You will also need to devise a publishing strategy that focuses on selling paper copies of your book.pile of books

You will also need to write a longer book so it looks better value for money in a print format. That means you will probably need to write at least 30,000 words and preferably 40-45,000 words so you can produce a book of over 100 pages.

Advantages

  1. A physical book has presence, with all the benefits that brings.
  2. A reader does not require any electronic device or software to be able to read it.
  3. Print is still a popular format for readers.
  4. A physical book can be posted out to editors and journalist for publicity purposes.
  5. You can sell it via Amazon, from the back of a room or from a local bookshop.
  6. It is sharable – someone can lend your book to someone else.

Disadvantages

  1. It is more expensive to produce so needs to be priced higher than an electronic book.
  2. It is less accessible than an electronic book (you cannot download it from Amazon).
  3. It takes longer to produce.
  4. It takes longer to deliver to your customer (it needs to be printed first using Print on Demand).
  5. Profits are lower because the costs are higher, which can impact sales, too.
  6. It may be portable but it is also bulky and heavy in comparison with a Kindle reader.

Kindle (and other electronic formats)

Kindle books require less investment: less editing and proofreading, only an electronic cover image, no design input (except with the use of images) and a simple conversion job to ensure it reads correctly in the electronic formats you are using.Kindle logo

Kindle books can also be very short – 5000 words is enough to produce a meaningful Kindle book. You can also price it cheaply for maximum sales and do not need to invest in print copies ahead of publication. All in all, electronic publishing is cheaper, faster and easier. That is why it is so popular.

Advantages

  1. It can be produced quickly (no printing involved) and formatting is fast and easy.
  2. Kindle books are often shorter than print books so are faster to write.
  3. It is cheaper to produce than a print book (cover costs and design costs are generally lower).
  4. It can be priced low or given away for free to maximise sales and marketing opportunities.
  5. It can be accessed easily and quickly using an app on a device or via a Kindle reader.
  6. You can amend and republish it at any point.

Disadvantages

  1. It does not have any physical presence or any of the advantages of being printed.
  2. Not all readers have embraced electronic books.
  3. It cannot be lent by one reader to another.
  4. The price is often low so you need to sell a lot of copies to make any significant money.
  5. It cannot be printed.
  6. It requires software or a Kindle reader in order for the buyer to access it.

PDF

PDF is a flexible publishing format as it can be downloaded from a website and via the sales channel, Selz. A PDF book can be read via the Kindle reader or app, it can be printed it and it can be read on-screen using the free software provided by Adobe. So the PDF is probably the most flexible format to publish in. However, you do not have the benefit of the enormous selling power of Amazon behind your book and no matter how many copies you sell, you will never achieve any kind of bestseller status. On the plus side, if you have the traffic and the right topic, you can set a much higher price for it high and so make a lot more money.Adobe PDF

A PDF book can also be any length you wish and it can be as highly or simply designed as you want it to be. A PDF book still benefits from being edited or proofread to ensure it achieves a professional standard but costs can be kept to a minimum, which is why this format is so often used for free ebooks.

Advantages

  1. It is accessible via print, Adobe’s software and on a Kindle reader.
  2. It can be as long or as short as you wish.
  3. It can be as highly designed or plain as you wish.
  4. It can be sold via Selz and promoted via their shop on social media such as Facebook.
  5. PDFs are often priced higher therefore allowing you to make more money.
  6. It’s a great format for free books that can grow your list.

Disadvantages

  1. It cannot be a bestseller on Amazon.
  2. You have to generate your own traffic to your website.
  3. You can’t take advantage of the benefits offered by the Amazon sales platform.
  4. It has less kudos than a print or Kindle book.
  5. You are responsible for providing customer support and taking payments.
  6. You will have to set up the back-end technology to handle downloads and sales.

Choosing a primary publishing format for your book can sound complex but it is actually very simple: it is about what you want because when you know what you want, you can simply focus on getting it.

If you would like to talk to me about your book ideas and plans, simply arrange a no-obligation Book Strategy Session and start turning your goals into achievements.

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Deborah Taylor
Deborah Taylor

Hi, I'm Deborah Taylor and I'm a publishing consultant and book-writing mentor. I work with established business owners who want to share their message by writing a book but are struggling to get started (or finished). I help them write, publish and launch a stand-out, attention-grabbing book that will raise their profile, reach more of their ideal clients and grow their business. I am a trained editor with over 15 years' publishing experience with major blue-chip UK publishing companies such as Hodder & Stoughton, BBC Books, Cassell and Pearson. I have produced books on every subject under the sun and with professinals and experts from a wide range of professions, from chefs and gardeners to life coaches and career consultants. I would love to help you write a book you love and that will raise your profile, attract new clients and bring you exciting new business opportunities.