The publishing format you choose for your book will have an impact on how it performs in your business. Each one has benefits and disadvantages but if you know what you want to achieve, you can make the best choice for your book. There are three key publishing formats you can choose from as a self-publisher:

  • eBook
  • PDF
  • Print


The king of eBook formats is, of course, Kindle, which has achieved worldwide domination via Amazon. There are variations on the Kindle eBook format, of course, including Nook and Kobo but Kindle is king of this format and is the main publishing focus for most writers. So, why is Kindle such a great choice when it comes to publishing?


Kindle is an easy and popular format to publish in, especially if you want to create an income as an author but don’t want to rely on a traditional publisher for a commission before you start.

If you decide you want to publish a Kindle book, you will need to find out how to prepare it electronically and get it listed on Amazon. Amazon provides free books on preparing a book for Kindle so the information is readily available and is easy to understand.

The benefit of a Kindle book is the shop-front offered by Amazon – they have the traffic, the software and the billing capabilities that make publishing to this format easy for all writers, especially new ones. Kindle books can drive traffic to your website, bring in a bit (or even a lot) of money and ensure you have an alternative way of getting in front of prospective buyers – who will hopefully become your clients in the future.


PDF or Portable Document Format is ideal for producing books that you can sell via your own website. One of the key benefits of this format is that you can use

You can sell a PDF book via your website at a much higher price than a Kindle book so if you have a high volume of traffic, a big list of subscribers or the ability to generate leads on a consistent basis, publishing a PDF book can reap huge rewards financially

You will also need to set up an online payment method and a web page to complete the process of selling a PDF book via your web site but this is fairly easy to do and anyone with a WordPress site and a PayPal account can easily achieve this.

As well as the fact that you can sell a PDF book for a higher price than a standard Kindle or print book this format has the benefit of being far more flexible when it comes to design. With a PDF book you can use lots of illustrations, colour images and coloured pages and text. The only limit is your imagination. reader_128

Unlike a printed book you can design using colour and lots of graphics without having to worry about the production cost. You may want to employ a designer to make sure it looks professional, though and avoid large blocks of dark or bright colours so your reader can avoid using an entire ink cartridge when if they want to print it out.

PDFs are flexible for your reader, too. They can be read on a Kindle or other eBook reader or via a computer using Adobe Acrobat Reader (universal and free software) but they can also be printed out. This flexibility makes it a perfect choice for producing workbooks and coursework. Unlike a standard book, a PDF book can be printed out and scribbled on as many times as the owner of the document desires but still remain pristine in its original format.

The only thing a PDF can’t offer is kudos. Printed titles and self-published Kindle books offer that option but a self-produced PDF does not confer that status of ‘author’ in the same way as other book formats.


Despite my long experience of print publishing, I am wary of recommending it as a format for your book. Print prices can be high, especially if you produce a book of any significant length, and then you have to add the cost of text design, editorial input and cover design to the mix.

You can print books via publishing services such as or Amazon also offers a print and fulfilment service. All of these services offer a means of fulfilling an online Amazon order so there is no need to warehouse a large quantity of books any more. Books

A printed book is always impressive, especially if it is produced to a high standard. You may be able to get away with bypassing editorial support when you publish a Kindle or PDF book but when it comes to print, you need to make sure you invest appropriately in this kind of expertise or you may end up with an expensive mistake.

Print books have their own special advantages. For example, they are perfect giveaways at talks and great products for back-of-the-room sales. They can be used for PR as they can be sent directly to a journalist or anyone else who you want to influence to give you press coverage. They are immediate, portable, and you can read them anywhere without the need for any kind of technology. Everyone understands and knows how to use a book.

Although it is often overlooked, you cannot ignore the power a book has purely in terms of its physical reality. Unlike an electronic book or one printed out onto sheets of paper, a book has a tactile quality and feels more valuable than an electronic book.

If you want to produce a book and use it as a kind of business card when networking, a small number of printed books can definitely be worth the investment. Also, some readers still prefer to read from paper rather than screen so print ensures you reach all of your market, not just the electronic one.

If you decide to invest in printing your book, it is worth waiting feedback on your PDF or Kindle title first. Errors, omissions and the fact that your book may miss its mark in terms of its suitability for the market can be judged from the success of electronic books.

A final word

Whatever format you choose to publish your book in, do it to the highest standard you can afford. A professionally produced book will always have a far greater impact than one that is shoved together – or that looks as if it has been shoved together.

If paying for editorial or design help isn’t possible just make sure you read your text thoroughly – word by word and line by line. Don’t use too many complicated headings and use a mainstream font like Arial or Times New Roman. Above all, keep your cover very simple, clean and classic. If in doubt, leave it out! Less is more and lots of other clichés apply so hold back on the glitz and you’ll have more class. 

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.