Which Should Come First—Kindle or Paperback?

First

Unless you have a book where Kindle formatting is impractical, you should make both Kindle and paperback editions of your book.

Benefits of the Kindle Edition

  • You can make the Kindle edition much more affordable. If your price is $2.99 or higher, you can still draw a high royalty (70% minus delivery costs).
  • Many customers only read e-books.
  • It’s much cheaper for you to send out review copies.
  • There is no extra charge for color.

One reason not to create an e-book is if you have a book where this is impractical, such as a workbook where the reader needs to write down answers.

You should also consider publishing your e-book with Nook, Smashwords, Kobo, etc. The only reason not to do so if you feel that the benefits of enrolling in KDP Select outweigh the benefits of having your e-book available with several e-book retailers.

Benefits of the Paperback Edition

  • Some customers prefer to read print books.
  • Amazon will show your Kindle edition as a percentage off compared to the paperback edition (once the two editions are linked together).
  • Kindle’s new MatchBook program encourages the sale of both editions.
  • It’s convenient to edit your writing with the printed proof.
  • You get to experience the incredible joy of holding your baby in your hands.
  • Local bookstores and other retailers might be willing to stock your book. If nothing else, your friends and family will believe you really are an author.

Which Should You Publish First?

Once you decide to make both Kindle and paperback editions, you must decide which edition to publish first.

Most authors simply publish each edition as soon as it’s ready. Some authors prefer to format e-books and have the Kindle edition ready first; others love the art of formatting pages and have the paperback edition ready first.

That’s not necessarily the best course. Suppose you had both editions prepared, but neither was published yet. What’s the best thing to do? Should you release them simultaneously? Or is there a reason to publish one edition first?

Some authors who plan this—rather than simply first publish whatever happens to be ready first—choose to arrange preorders for the paperback edition using Amazon Advantage. They use preorders as part of their strategy for building buzz for the book’s release, and to help foster a strong sales rank and prospects for early reviews when the book is released. They then release the Kindle edition when the paperback goes live.

Once you have both Kindle and paperback editions available, you can have them linked. This creates an interesting possibility that was recently mentioned in the CreateSpace community forum: If your Kindle edition is available for sale now and linked to a paperback edition that’s on preorder, any reviews left by Kindle customers should, theoretically, show on your paperback’s product page, since the reviews are linked together. (Paperback customers can’t review the paperback edition until it goes live.)

There are two good reasons not to release both editions simultaneously:

  1. You gain visibility by having a book in the Last 30 Days and Last 90 Days categories on Amazon. This is based on your publication date. (Tip: Don’t enter any publication date at CreateSpace. That way, your book’s publication date will be the day you click Approve Proof. This maximizes your book’s visibility with the new release search filters.) Release one book 90 days prior to the other and you get 180 days of new release visibility out of one book.
  2. You have the opportunity to create double-buzz. Build buzz for one edition. Then a month after its debut, you have two months to build buzz for the other edition if it’s going live 90 days after the first.

You could release the Kindle edition first. At the same time, setup preorders for the paperback edition. Arrange the paperback edition to go live 90 days after the release of the Kindle edition. Make the publication date of the paperback edition when it goes live, so you get a total of 180 days visibility in the Last 90 Days category.

If you’re one of those authors who can publish two books per year, you can use this method to always have a book listed under Last 90 Days.

Publishing Resources

I started this blog to provide free help with writing, publishing, and marketing. You can find many free articles by clicking one of the following links:

Chris McMullen, Author of A Detailed Guide to Self-Publishing with Amazon and Other Online Booksellers

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