Paperback or Ebook?

Night to Dawn features tales edited by Barbara Custer

Available in print format

At my Mylar balloons’ suggestion, I took a poll on Facebook to find out whether people preferred reading their books in ebook or paperback format. The results surprised me. Then again, I shouldn’t have been that surprised to read that folks prefer the feel of a paperback in their hands.

Sales on Night to Dawn ebooks had been almost nil, even though the price is less. When I started publishing through Night to Dawn, I did all right selling ebooks. Back then, the novelty was present. After all, it’s a lot easier to lug an iPad or Kindle on trips than it is to carry paperbacks and hardbacks. The lower price tempts one to buy, with a lot of ebooks selling for $2.99 or less.

Ah, but as the years go by, the blue light in the iPhone and brightness of most computer screens gets rough on the eyes. Besides, the novelty wore off. What’s more, there’s the cost of damages to consider. Drop a book, and you might have wrinkled pages. Drop an iPhone, and you’re looking at pricey repairs.

Aside from the poor sale of ebooks, my book Steel Rose is nearing the end of its contract. Currently, it’s available only as an ebook. If I take over the sale of that book, I’d like to see it in paperback. I’m also putting together a short story collection. I was thinking ebook, but I know now that I’ll want paperback format made available. I was contemplating making Night to Dawn available on Kindle and Smashwords, but it wouldn’t look the same without showcasing the back cover. In certain ebook formats, illustrations don’t always turn out well.

When people tell me their preferences, I try to listen. My Mylar balloons might not agree, but that’s beside the point.

I’ll still continue to sell my wares in ebook format. It’s a lot easier to travel with ebooks, but at home, it feels great to curl up with my Mylar balloons and a good print book. Your thoughts?


Horror fiction NTD book in paperback & eBook who writes horror and science fiction

How Much Do You Charge for an EBook?

Close Liaisons features Mylar balloons and science fiction by Barbara Custer

SF involving balloons and war $1.49

How much should you charge for your eBook? Some folks believe that charging $2.99 and less will result in more sales. The 99-cent novellas will make good publicity, an easy way to get to know an author’s style of writing. If nothing else, it will generate balloon money for the author and publisher. But I know of people who started out at $5.25 for their book, and when they lowered it to $2.99, sales tanked. What’s more, the lower price cut into their royalties.

Amazon likes to recommend prices when I upload Kindle books for myself or for NTD authors.  Basically, anything over $7 or under $3 won’t earn much. However, if you’re charging more for your eBook, you might want to run promos and specials where people can get the book for much less, thus meaning a larger audience. Many variables go into pricing and you might want to consider several things when you price your eBook, especially if you’re selling through multiple distributors.

  • The size of your eBook. If you’ve written a 10,000 word novelette, you’d charge much less than you would for your 80,000 opus magnum. It’s a matter of fairness. Why charge $4.99 for an eBook that would only have twenty pages in print form? It would be like charging someone $20.00 (the cost of a balloon bouquet) for one balloon. In tandem, consider your primary goals, that is, education versus entertainment. People will shell out more money for vital information, such as tips on winter driving and survival then they might for tales about Mylar balloon adventures.
  • Consider what other authors charge for the same size and genre. If you’re charging $10 for a 30,000 word zombie tale, but other authors are charging $1.99 for the same type of book, yours won’t sell many copies. If you’re only selling off your own website, you might have more leeway with price. My experience has been that most people prefer shopping through Amazon or Barnes & Noble over a private website. Why? If you shop on the NTD website, you’ll need a PayPal account, which requires a password. For that reason, I always provide links to Amazon, Smashwords, and Barnes & Noble. Most seller websites involve setting up an account and a password. It’s easier to remember one password (Amazon) than tracking different passwords for multiple websites.
  • What are your plans for your book? If your work is a 10,000-word novelette, it can serve as an intro to your larger, more expensive works. Most folks won’t mind shelling out 99 cents for such a story. Your book—and your ideas—will fall into more hands. If they like your work, you’ve got more potential buyers for your larger stories. If you don’t have a 99-cent eBook, you might want to create one. Your entry-level priced eBook will give readers a chance to know your work.
  • How large is your following? If you’re anything like Stephen King or Jonathan Maberry, your publisher might sell your eBooks for $10 each and more. That’s because both authors have dedicated fans who love their writing so much that they’ll gladly pay that to read their fiction. If you’re pitching to total strangers, they’ll balk, especially if they see other books of the same genre sell for $3.99.

You might consider having a list price but discount that price from time to time. This way, you’ll drive more interest in your books. No price is ever set in stone, and because the eBook world is constantly changing, you should evaluate your prices from time to time.

Your thoughts?

Blue Plate Special is zombie novel by Harold Kempka

Tidbits of horror for $2.99

Romancing the Dust Jacket

When I bought my Galaxy with its Kindle App, I found that the print was much easier on my eyes than the kind in print books. With the NTD books, I’ve sent out my first team with eBooks, knowing that they were starting to outsell paperbacks. Once you know how, eBooks are easier to format than paperbacks unless you’ve got illustrations. Imagine my surprise when a couple of authors came to me and asked if their books were available in hardbacks. Apparently, people still enjoy hardback books and the dust jackets that come with them. Tom Johnson and I were talking on the phone when he mentioned publishing Cold War Heroes as a hardback. I remember smiling and saying, “Sure, no problem.”

Then he asked, “Have you ever published anything in hardback?”

“No,” I told him, “but if I go with a 6 x 9 hardback and use the cover I have for the trade paperback, I should have no problems.”

Well, a casewrap might have been almost that simple, but we went with a dust jacket. I needed a bio, photo, and a tantalizing summary / excerpt to go on the inner flaps. Those flaps gave me the biggest problem. I use CreateSpace for the print books and Lulu for NTD magazine.  As for the eBooks, I do my own formatting and submit to the respective distributors. Newsflash: CreateSpace doesn’t do hardbacks. Lulu does. I know of two other companies that print hardbacks – Lightning Source and I never used these other companies, so I went with Lulu.

First I re-sized the excerpt and bio. Because you need at least ½ inch margins on all sides, I had much less space to work with than I thought. Why the margins? During the manufacturing process, the edges get trimmed, and you don’t want your print or images to get cut away with it. Lulu has new cover formatting software that enables you to past in your excerpts, photo, and bio on the flaps. All well and good, but Lulu was having software problems.

So then I moved onto their software for a 1-piece wrap-around. I was able to put this all together on Publisher by using a set of images to meet the exact measurements. Publisher came through for me in a big way. I built up a jacket nice and neat, or so I thought. With one-piece covers, Lulu requires you to upload the barcode yourself. It sounded easy until I realized I had no barcode software. Okay. I downloaded Lulu’s barcode and tried copying it onto the Publisher image.  What I copied didn’t look like any barcode. So I printed out the barcode, scanned it to a JPG and then I tried copying it. It bumped the back cover image out of the Publisher file.

Back to the drawing board. I made another back cover file on Publisher and pasted in the barcode JPG. After making a JPG of this cover, I pasted it onto the big Publisher wrap-around cover. All up, I must have made about ten Publisher files. Finally I was able to covert the wraparound cover to JPG and upload it to Lulu’s software. The upshot was, I ordered a proof and had it sent to Tom. Tom had the patience of Job. Each night brought a phone call or a series of emails from me.  You can see how this cover came out below.


Tom has another book in mind for a hardback, but with a different cover. This time Teresa Tunaley is handling the job. She does most of the covers for the NTD books, and she’s a jewel to work with. She came up with a dust cover jacket, ISBN, and all within a few days. Three Go Back won’t be coming out in hardback for a while. I have to see how Cold War Heroes looks when Tom gets it. I was so pleased with the outcome, though, I had to display it.  It looks a great as any balloon tree I’ve seen at the Giant. I plan on using it for the paperback and eBook also. Thank you, Teresa!

What is your favorite medium for publishing – hardback, paperback, or eBook? I’d like to hear your thoughts, and why you would prefer one over the other.

three go back final

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