If you want to make a living as a writer, the first way to make more money from every book you write is to publish your book in multiple formats. I’ll admit that this is so obvious that it hardly seems worth mentioning. I’m starting here because implementing this strategy was the first step for me when it came to making a living wage as an author.
When I first started self-publishing books, I published ONLY short Kindle books. Now don’t get me wrong – short Kindle books are a great way to start, but not a great place to stop! Initially I didn’t see the value in print and audio books, and to be honest, I was intimidated by the thought of publishing anything other than Kindle books.
The good news is, it’s fairly easy to your get Kindle books into print. You will need to format your Kindle book a bit differently to make it suitable for print. Since your print book cover needs a front, spine, and back, you’ll also need to have a separate print cover made. Formatting and cover design go beyond the scope of this post, but thankfully you can have those tasks done inexpensively on a platform like Fiverr.
In my experience, the small extra cost of paying for print formatting and a print cover pays off big time in overall book revenue.
Kindle to Print Workflow
I recommend the following basic workflow for getting your Kindle book into print.
Edit the Book
Edit the book, or hire an editor. Do this before formatting, since even relatively small edits can throw off print formatting.
Format for Kindle and then Print
Some people prefer to start with the print format and then create a Kindle version. Since Kindle formats are easier, I start with Kindle.
When it comes to the difference between the two, for print, make sure that each new chapter starts on the right. (This is confusing because in Microsoft Word, the page that will be on the right in the book is on the left in Word. Don’t ask me why because I don’t know!) You’ll also want to add page numbers at the bottom, and potentially information such as the title and author name on the top of the page.
ISBN, Upload and Publish
You need to get an ISBN number for your print books. There are two ways to go about this. First, you can purchase an individual or block of ISBN numbers from Bowker. This isn’t a cheap proposition. At the current time, pricing for a single ISBN number is $125, 10 cost $295, and 100 run $575.00. Obviously, purchasing a block of 100 ISBN numbers is the most cost-effective for anyone publishing multiple books.
Free ISBN Numbers
The good news is, if you can’t afford to purchase an ISBN number, you can get one for free through Amazon. The only downside is that Amazon will list your book as “Independently Published.” If you decide to go with the free Amazon-provided ISBN number, start the setup for the book inside of your KDP dashboard and have Amazon generate the ISBN number for you. Once you have the ISBN number, add it to the copyright page of the print version of your book.
Order Proof Copies
Next, upload both the print and Kindle versions of your book. You can use the previewer option to check the formatting. You can also order a proof copy of the print book. While this slows down the process and costs a little, I find proof copies helpful. I often catch typos in the print version that I missed when proofreading the digital version. The proof copy also helps you make sure that all the formatting and images look good.
Once you’re satisfied with the quality, hit publish!
Now let’s talk about audiobooks. Audiobooks intimidated me even more than print books, so it took me a while to get around to doing them. Thankfully, there are a couple of ways to go about producing and publishing audiobooks.
Narrate the Book Yourself
First, you can narrate and upload the book yourself. This is by far the most challenging option. It requires a good microphone and a quiet recording environment. If you’re up for the challenge, it can be a good way to go because people often feel it’s more personal when the author narrates the book, rather than some random professional narrator. In addition to that, if you record your book yourself, you don’t have to pay a narrator.
If you don’t want to narrate your book yourself, you can hire a narrator through ACX. When you hire a narrator through ACX, you can either pay them up front, or split all future royalties.
In my experience, audiobooks haven’t paid off as well, so my current approach is to first publish the print and Kindle version and then if those sell well, to do the audio version.
Kindle Book Bundles
Once you write at least two related books, sell the Kindle version of the books together for a discounted price. Simply combine all of the books together in one Word document, order a cover, and publish as you would any other Kindle book.
Here’s an example of one of my book bundles:
I sell these three books separately for $2.99 each (for a total of $8.97), and I sell the book bundle for $4.99. At close to half off, this is a great deal for customers but also brings in more revenue for me compared to if someone bought just one (or none) of the books.
The Hourly Wage Makes Sense
Let me be frank. I make only approximately $15 per month from this book bundle. However, when you consider that I published it two years ago, I’ve made well over $400 from it. That’s obviously not going to make me rich. However, when you consider that it took me just an hour to compile, the cover cost me just $5, and it continues to sell, it’s worthwhile. I have an entire list of potential book bundles to publish in the future. The compound effect of those will consistently add to my bottom line.
Workbooks, Journals, and Planners
One thing on my agenda for this year is to create several low-content books such as workbooks, journals, and planners. My goal is to create books that complement my other books. For example, since I write a lot of blogging books, a blog post planner is a good fit. I’ve written several devotional books, and related journals will fit nicely with those. Low-content books don’t fit with every book, but if you include written exercises or journal prompts in a book, you may want to consider a companion workbook or journal.
The most important thing to keep in mind is that you’ve already done the hard work of writing the book, so why not get the book out there in multiple formats?
How to Evaluate Book Formats
While I’m a big fan of publishing books in multiple formats, it’s important to carefully evaluate which formats are suitable for each book. For example, one of my bestselling books is Blogger’s Quick Guide to Starting Your First WordPress Blog. Generally, if a book sells well, then it’s a no brainer to make an audio version of the book. But this specific book has a ton of screenshots, and because of that, it would make a horrible audiobook.
However, while it would make a poor audiobook, since knowing how to set up a blog is one of the first steps for a beginning blogger, it makes sense to include it in blog-related Kindle book bundles. I could also create a companion workbook, since people may want to jot down ideas for setting up their blog as they go through the book.
Potential Profit Vs. Cost
The main things to keep in mind when evaluating formats is to first of all, evaluate potential profit vs. cost. For instance, especially if you use a site like Fiverr for cover creation and formatting, it doesn’t cost much extra to publish both print and Kindle versions. Therefore, in my opinion, it makes sense to publish all books in both Kindle and print, right from the start. However, since audiobooks are more complex and because of that are more time consuming (if you narrate the book yourself) or more expensive if you hire a narrator, it may make sense to publish only your more popular books in audio format.
Value Vs. Fluff
The second factor to consider is what adds the most value. For example, just because I can make a planner, workbook, and journal to go with every book doesn’t mean that I should. When deciding what formats to publish, always keep in mind what would help people the most.
The next thing I want to briefly touch on is to consider publishing your books on multiple platforms. There are pros and cons to this because if your Kindle book is enrolled in KDP Select, it must be exclusively available on Amazon. An advantage to that is that people can borrow your book, and you’ll get paid based on the number of pages read, but then a disadvantage is that you miss out on digital book sales on other platforms including your own website.
What I recommend is to enroll your book in KDP Select for the first 90 days and then evaluate how much revenue you make from borrows. If the amount is small, unenroll your book from KDP Select and then upload it to other platforms such as Draft2Digital. Those platforms make your eBooks available on other places such as libraries, iBooks, and Barnes and Noble. If you find that your eBooks don’t sell well on those platforms, you can always remove them and re-enroll them in KDP Select.