What Should Come First: the Paperback or the E-book? (And How it Affects Your Marketing)

This content first appeared on Warrior Forum and has been republished here with permission from the author.

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I started another thread a little while ago titled How to Price an E-book, and this spawned a further discussion between me and another person regarding which should come first: the e-book or the paperback.

I wrote, “Whenever my company produces books for any authors (myself included), we start with either a paperback or a hardcover (their choice) and then convert those digital files to an e-book after that fact. That way, these authors have a larger net to catch more fish because they are appealing to the readers who still prefer to hold a hard copy in their hands as well as the ones who prefer to read soft copies.

To which he replied, “To be honest, I doubt that very many people on this forum are interested in creating either a hardback or paperback to begin with. They are digital marketers and create e-books first which may later be converted to paper using CreateSpace or some other service.

I can understand that point of view, but I think there is much more to consider here when it comes to both offline and digital marketing. Everyone trying to sell any type of book needs to familiarize themselves all the different players in the book supply chain, how these players can help you to sell more books (both online and offline), and what these players expect to see in your books before they’ll even pay attention to you, never mind help you.




For example, let’s take the reviewers that I talked about in this thread: You Can Buy Book Reviews to Promote Your Ebook Online!. Publicity is GOLD to any author–no matter what type of book you’ve published, no matter where/how you’re trying to sell that book. And a positive review from a reputable book reviewer can generate an amazing amount of publicity for you. But they have certain expectations of your books…

The professional reviewers want to see a properly (professionally) designed book, and they won’t pay attention to anything else much less review it for you. They expect to see all the proper cover design components and interior components (front matter, body, back matter) before they’ll ever take it seriously. For one example, they will want to see an index at the back of a non-fiction book … and we automatically create those in our paperbacks/hardcovers before converting them over to an e-book. But if you start with the e-book first, and then try to convert it to a paperback or hardcover, it will be missing many of these necessary components. The result is that the book won’t be taken seriously by the reputable industry reviewers–the ones who can generate that golden publicity for you.

Contrary to popular belief on this forum, there are still just as many people reading paperbacks/hardcovers as there are reading e-books. If your goal is to sell your books then, for best results, you should still be producing both in this day and age. Cast a larger net, catch more fish. And the hard copy–the paperback or the hardcover–needs to come first. The e-book needs to come second.