Have you read the articles? You know the ones. They say that print publishing is dying, and that e-books are all the rage. They say that self-publishers shouldn't even bother with print books anymore, that they're a waste of time. I admit that I've believed them before.
Here's the thing: maybe print books don't work for everyone. Maybe e-readers are the future. But let's take a look at this logically. If print books are dead, why is Amazon opening physical bookstores? Why are independent bookstores thriving? While there are many reasons, I'd like to sum it up in a word: experience.
As our lives move more and more toward the virtual, people are craving the tangible even more. We love the experience of an independent bookstore. We love the experience of finding our favorite book on the shelves. So, if you're thinking of discounting the print book, I'd take a closer look first.
How about we explore this together, shall we? Here's how print books are still shaping the self-publishing platform:
Advantages of Print Books for Readers
Does this story sound familiar to you? You walk into a bookstore and pick up a recommended book. Since you've heard good things, maybe seen the cover on Instagram, you decide to buy it. A few pages in and the book is just not for you. Then, you beat yourself up for spending $20 on a hardcover book that you're not going to finish.
We've all done it.
Now, let me present another scenario to you. You're on Amazon or Nook or another e-book store. You see a cover you love from a new author and the e-book is only $3.99. The synopsis looks good, so you decide to purchase. Maybe you don't like the book, and you're only out a few dollars.
Or, maybe you love the book. Maybe you love the book so much that you want to have the print copy, too. Why?
It's a Souvenir
The print copy is a way to keep a memory from that special book you've visited. Those characters, that place, that story. It's a reminder of the great adventure you had, and also, it allows you to return there time and time again.
It's a Collectible
What if the author offers autographed copies? What if you have a bookshelf dedicated to signed books? What if you decide to collect every book by this new, favorite author of yours? Like snowglobes or coins, print books are a new collector's item.
It's a Piece of Art
On the inside, yes of course. But if you look at the book as a physical item, if you look at the book cover itself, it's a piece of art all on its own. Why do you think bookstagram is so popular? Why is bookshelf organization such a skilled decorative technique? Print books themselves are beautiful.
The best kind of mail paired with the best kind of skirt. Happy summer Saturday to me! (With a special shoutout to my girl, @blotsandplots, for this gorgeous signed copy of her latest novella. Can't wait to dig in!) . . . . . . #amreading #goindie2016 #bookstagram #igreads #bookish #bookworm #booknerd #booknerdigans #pursuepretty #livecolorfully #abmhappylife #createmore #abmlifeiscolorful #booklover #goodreads #booktube #readmore
I finally got to read These Are the Moments by Jenny Bravo! I finished it last weekend, and had to share how much I loved it. Jenny's writing is beautiful and I love her descriptions. Simon and Wendy's love story is so intriguing, and their journey is wonderfully frustrating, in the best possible way, because you cannot help rooting for these characters. I loved the narrative. I loved Simon and Wendy. I just loved this book. If you enjoy lovely prose, a good romance, and reading in general, you'll love this book too. 👍🏻
See? Told you that's the best way to connect.
Advantages of Print Books for Writers
It's no secret that self-publishers have a challenge when it comes to visibility. Without the push of a large marketing team, it can be trial-and-error to find a method that really works for you, without spending too much money on advertising or hours petitioning book bloggers on social media.
Marketing is part science (bleh) and part creativity. While there are marketing formulas that work, it's also important to find a style that works for you. Here are a few ways to use print books as a marketing technique, if it's something that suits you and your writing.
Print Books as Contest Entries
Want to win awards? There are several self-publishing awards that are exclusive to print books, such as the Writer's Digest Self-Published (Print/Bound) Awards and Foreward Reviews Books of the Year Awards. It costs to enter, but becoming an award-winning author could be worth it. (Note: there are e-book awards too, but I suspect their are more entrants since they cost less.)
Print Books as Networking
I know, I know. Networking is kind of a cheesy term. But if you think about it, networking gives people a chance to connect, in a way that doesn't need to be cheesy at all. For example, you can do a book swap with another self-published author. If you're writing non-fiction, your book can be a way for you to establish expertise in your field. The ability to hand someone a copy of your book can be an invaluable asset to you!
Print Books as a Special Offer
There's an endless amount of really cool ways to use print books, but my favorite is as an exclusive for readers. As a reader myself, I get really excited when I see my favorite authors offering autographed books or specials on their titles. As an author, I've used a few techniques that have worked out really well so far. Let's dive into them.
Team Up with Other Authors for a Bundle Deal
There's power in numbers, my friend! Over Christmas, I hosted a 25 Days of Bookmas on Instagram, and several of my author friends offered a free copy of their book(s) to a lucky winner who entered the giveaway. These authors then promoted the giveaway on their social media platforms, so it was a mega cross-pollination of readership. And guess what? It wasn't hard at all. You could also do this as a Rafflecopter giveaway and collect email addresses to add to your mailing list!
Use Your Print Copies to Get into Independent Bookstores and Libraries
Have big dreams of seeing your book on a shelf? It's possible! Research independent bookstores that accept self-published books and send them an email or visit them in person. Typically, they'll accept a few copies on consignment and then they'll order more if your books sell. For more information on which print-on-demand service to use, I recommend reading about distributing your self-published books by Ksenia Anske.
Sell Autographed Copies Exclusively through Your Website
Is there a better way to connect with your readers than one-on-one? Probably not. I've loved being able to offer autographed copies of my book, because I get to help my reader's experience with my books firsthand. How do I do this? By adopting great customer service techniques or, in non-technical terms, I throw confetti in their envelopes and write them special notes.
When a reader orders a book directly from you, it's because they want to support you. So it's your job to thank them in the best way possible. Need evidence? Here's a few photos from my readers:
Discussion time: So, what do you think? Are print books dead? Or are they still relevant? Let's keep this conversation going in the comments.
But first, if you're interested in on-again, off-again love stories, you should check out my novel, These Are the Moments. I offer print copies over at my author website or you can try out a free copy of my novella, Moments Like These, first. Thank you from the deepest, warmest spot in my heart!
And now, the comment section.