Paperback or eBook?

Paperback or eBook?

© daniilantiq2010 –

Enquirers sometimes ask me whether they should publish a paperback or an eBook, so I thought I should let you all know my opinion on this subject.

eBooks are very easy to publish now we have the likes of Amazon KDP and Smashwords.  You write your book, get it proofread, format it yourself or get me to do it, design a cover and then upload it to Amazon or Smashwords.  It’s so easy many people are doing it every single day, you only have to look on the home page of Smashwords to see the speed that the new eBooks are being published over there.

The problem with eBooks being so easy to publish means there are a lot of very badly written eBooks on the market, where people are trying to make money fast.  They have failed to understand that if your eBook is badly written that people won’t generally buy it (hopefully most will download a sample before they commit to spending the money), and if it’s very bad it will receive 1 star reviews which means it will soon vanish into oblivion, never to be seen again and the author having made no money whatsoever!

But, with a paperback it’s not quite as easy, you still have the likes of CreateSpace and Lulu which makes the process a lot easier to self-publish but at the end of it you will have a physical book.  In my opinion creating a physical book which people have to pick up, flick through and buy is more of a risk, which means authors probably put more effort into writing and publishing it.

Both eBooks and paperbacks don’t have to cost anything to publish, ok you have to factor in any services you outsource such as proofreading and formatting, but in general to upload it to Amazon, or create it on CreateSpace you don’t have to spend any money.

My Advice

The advice I give enquirers/clients when they ask me this question is, publish it as an eBook, see what sort of interest you get (obviously you have to market it for it to sell) and then decide later on if you want to produce a paperback version.

Some clients do it the other way around and succeed, take Lisa Cherry for example, her paperback sales are doing really well and after she published a Kindle version that also did very well.  The magic here isn’t which way round she published, it’s how well written her book is and how great she is at marketing it.

If you want to sell your book…

At the end of the day, you will get out what you put into a book.  So ensure it’s well written, edited correctly, thoroughly proofread, formatted nicely and marketed consistently and you’ll find that you can publish your book as a paperback and an eBook whichever way around you prefer.


  1. Roy A. Ackerman, Ph.D., E.A. says

    I like the way you think! That’s exactly what I was planning to do with my tome-in-progress.
    (I also plan to offer a few more “goodies” in the bound edition, as well.

  2. Jo, this is a really helpful take on this question and perfect timing for me as this year I sense I might just start putting a book together. The two things that hit me in what you say is it has to be good, no matter how you publish, and you have to do the legwork to make sure people know it exists once it is written. Thanks so much!

    • That’s right Jo, if you don’t promote the book it will get lost among the 1000’s of books published each day. Having just put some stats together for my late Grandfather’s book sales, you can see where I promoted it more and when I didn’t have the time, it really does work.

  3. Mark A. Michael says

    Good timing on this one as I am getting ready to get my book out there (being edited now)

  4. Retha Groenewald says

    Great post. I like both. It is nice to hold a book in your hands when you read. E-books are so convenient and you can read any place, any time.

  5. Mike Gardner says

    Hi Jo,

    some good common sense thinking here, most people believe they have a book in them, but with ebooks it is very easy to discover if the subject of that book is wanted or not

    • Thanks Mike, completely agree, testing the water with an eBook is a great strategy for maybe first time authors.

  6. This post came at a great time! Thank you. I’ve got a WIP that is written, just in the (tedious) editing process to tighten it up. I have been trying to decide how to go about publishing. I think I know my answer now!

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