Sue, I can’t do your question justice on Twitter so I’m answering here. I know I could have emailed or picked up the phone, and enjoyed chatting, but I think many other people are asking the same question. So here goes.
Yes. Publish in print, probably at Createspace. Like Kindle, where you’re working, it’s owned by Amazon, though don’t expect a smoothly functioning publishing family. And remember kerning and that other stuff you learned in your print days.
Lots of people still prefer print. Many reviewers will accept print only. You can sell them at speaking events. Friends, family members and business associates will feel so special when the postman delivers a gift-wrapped book that they’ll write a nice review. Which reminds me, Sue…
As you’re soon to find out, you need reviews to create buzz. Goodreads and some other book sites will do giveaways to generate reviews, but only if you pick up the cost of mailing and print.
Reviews without mailing costs?
That can be expensive. Danny Iny, fellow Canadian who recently published Engagement from Scratch, told Problogger readers he spent $2,000 on stamps. Among other frenetic activities, he offered a free PDF download, in exchange for an email address he can market more products to.
Although I have another list of people I know, or want to know, to mail print copies to, I’m concentrating on free e-copies. Unfortunately for you, Kindle does not allow that. That’s one of the reasons I also published the e-book with Smashwords. I have a free, limited-time download, coupon code BC25Q.
Fortunately, selling higher-margin products to people who read my book is not part of my strategy, though I wish I could remind them about a review. But then, our books are so fabulous readers will be seized with an uncontrollable urge to rave, right?
More than Kindle
Of course, the other reason I published with Smashwords was the need to offer different versions for different e-readers and manage various etailers. With Seth Godin blogging for them and their author enticements, Kindle is trying to own the e-market. But let’s not kid ourselves. There are many players out here. It’s too early to pick a winner.
With Google also trying to own everything, you’d think they would be quick off the mark with e-books. But no. When I checked out Google Books today, I laughed when I saw their book “programme.” That’s how Brits and some colonials spell it. Most Canadians, except art galleries, museums, librarians and other snobs, prefer the leaner American “program.”
I was listed because Google had found my Createspace link, though no cover image. No Kindle or Smashwords. No Amazon.com or Amazon.ca reviews. I added more info and will check back later. But clearly they are not at the head of the pack.
Change takes time
On their forum, people sending in print books for digitizing asked if they would have them returned. The fact that people who see the advantage of e-books but don’t have ePub or PDF of the manuscript just shows you we have one foot still firmly planted in the past.
We keep hearing comparisons to Gutenberg, when books jumped from hand-written to machine-printed. But at that time, there was only one inventor of the printing press. Even then, the transition took decades.
Today, we have many contenders. And many media. As lawyers now state in contracts “media invented or yet-to-be-invented.”
So start with Kindle. Publish in print. And be prepared for anything.