Digital, Print or Both?

photo copyright Ellen Gable Hrkach

New self-publishers often ask the question: should I go digital, print or both?

Ten years ago when I was in the beginning stages of self-publishing my first book, I never considered offering my book digitally on a wide scale. Although I occasionally sent PDFs to reviewers, the digital revolution had not yet taken off. As well, I was concerned about e-book piracy (which will be a topic of a future post).

Fast forward seven years. On a whim, I decided to convert and upload my first two books to Kindle (at the time, there were no conversion programs…it took weeks of trial and error to figure out how to do it). However, this “whim” soon became the best publishing and financial decision I ever made.

For more on how my e-books became successful, check out my previous blog post.

If I were doing it today, I would probably do both. However, digital publishing is ideal to start with since there are no major printing costs to spend up front and you can reach millions of people within hours.

I still use a printing company (more on “print-on-demand” companies in a future post) for hard copy books, but I sell many more e-copies than print. Because of this success, my company is now publishing other authors’ books.

Here are some pointers I’ve come up with for publishing e-books:

Use Professional E-Conversion Companies (or learn how to do it professionally yourself)
Once you’ve uploaded your book to Kindle, use the previewer to determine whether it’s formatted properly…I can’t tell you how many times I’ve downloaded a book (some by established authors) that was not formatted correctly, like missing words, letters or words on different lines, which makes it difficult to read.

E-books still need editors. Check out my previous post about editors.

Cover Designer
I can usually tell a self-published book a mile away by the look of the cover. Please employ a professional. The cover design should be a normal cover size (and please, not a horizontal rectangle!)
Check out my previous post about covers.

Book Blurb
Must be well-written and short enough to pique your prospective readers’ interest, but not give them too much information.

Kindle KDP or Kindle, Nook, Kobo etc.
You must decide whether to go exclusively with Kindle KDP or have your book be available on other e-reader sites. The advantages of having your book exclusively on Kindle is that you can do free promotions (successful free promotions almost always bring a surge in actual sales following the free promotion). Your book also gets to be part of the KDP Library that Amazon Prime members can borrow for free. But that doesn’t mean you don’t get paid. A few months ago, for every borrow, I actually received MORE money than I did for each sale (2.20).

To find out more about the KDP Program:

If you’d prefer to have your book available for other e-readers, check out Smashwords as they are a distributor for the other e-readers. A warning, however: Smashwords does not offer the same sort of piracy protection that Kindle does. (E-book piracy will be a topic of an upcoming post…)

Digital or Print? I’d say do both…but start with digital!

Next month: Print on Demand or Off Set Printing?

If you have any comments or questions, feel free to comment below.

Copyright 2013 Ellen Gable Hrkach

About Ellen Gable Hrkach

Ellen Gable Hrkach is an award-winning, Amazon bestselling author. Her five books have been downloaded over 620,000 times on Kindle. Currently, she works as the Marketing Director for Live the Fast, a non-profit Roman Catholic apostolate based in Boston. She does freelance writing and editing for a variety of other websites, she blogs at "Plot Line & Sinker" and is also self-publishing book consultant and a publisher. She and her husband are the parents of five sons ages 16 to 28 and live in Pakenham, Ontario. In her spare time, Ellen enjoys playing board games with her family, watching classic movies on TCM and reading on her Kindle.
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2 Responses to Digital, Print or Both?

  1. Don Mulcare says:


    Many thanks for sharing your experiences, insights, links and whims! You certainly have my attention.

    God Bless,


  2. You’re welcome. I’m happy to help, Don!