Self-publishing – from paperbacks to ebooks

Trio is a novel about adoption (and very different from my usual crime fiction titles).  I wanted to write it because of my own experience as an adoptee and to reflect other stories I’d come across from people in the adoption triangle.  Originally published in hardback by a small publisher it soon went out of print.  Feedback on the book was very positive and as it was close to my heart I wanted to keep it in print and available to people.  So I set myself up as a small press, got my partner Tim to design a cover and found a printer.  I paid for a very small print run because I couldn’t afford more and storage was a problem anyway.  For the next eight years I sold the book (out of boxes under my bed) via Amazon and to the wholesalers Gardners and Bertrams as well as at talks and events.  Sales were in very modest numbers and due to my naivety and total lack of business acumen every single sale I made lost me money – I’d paid a high per unit cost for the books, postage was more than I’d imagined (and kept increasing) and Amazon took a large percentage of each sale.  Then came ebooks.  I paid someone to help me convert Trio and list it on Amazon for Kindle.  I selected a low price (£1.53) but one where I’d make 70% royalties.  And I watched in amazement as Trio sold many, many times more copies than it ever had done as a paperback.  Last month the paperback version went out of print.  If money, time and space were no object I’d keep it in print as a physical book in order to reach people who don’t have ebook readers but for now I’m not re-issuing it.  And I’m still quite dumbfounded by the difference in the economics.

8 thoughts on “Self-publishing – from paperbacks to ebooks”

  1. Well, this is the era of advanced technology after all. Innovations are faster than we thought. Before, it seemed too impossible to materialize a touch screen device but now it’s everywhere and some even sell at a small cost. E-books are the new trend in reading. It’s not long now that everyone will be able to acquire e-book readers.

    1. I think that’s true here and in the States but the rest of the world are still overwhelmingly reading physical books. I don’t know how quickly that might change.

  2. Have you looked into the economics of going in to partnership with one of the small firms which can do print on demand?

  3. Hi Cath

    I discovered your Sal Kilkenny series on Friday, it’s Monday now and I’m 3 books in and trying hard to leave my Kindle upstairs by the bed and get on with my day. Thanks for writing such a compelling and likeable character as Sal.

    However *clears throat* this comment is about the ebooks on Amazon and I’m not sure from your post whether you administer them or have a publisher to do it for you, but I’ve found it so hard to figure which order I should read the books in and not all of them are available on Kindle it seems.

    Any chance you can help? It would be most useful if “(Sal Kilkenny Series #)” could be added to each title to help with searching and purchasing – I saw one or two that were done that way.

    I’ve sent my Mum off to read your books too, but as she uses the library, I might have to promote my zeal elsewhere for it to profit you.

    Thanks again, you’re a star.

    1. Hello – and thanks so much! Great you’re enjoying them. The first five titles in the series do list the #number in the product description on amazon. Numbers 6 (Bitter Blue) and 7 (Missing) aren’t on Kindle yet (different publisher) and #8 is listed as such in product description. They are also arranged in the right order on my books page, if you want to double check. I hope that clears it up for you 🙂 Let me know if not. Delighted to be read via the library too, so thanks to your mum – that’s where most of my readers first found the books.

  4. Discovered your books by pure change on an Amazon email and bought the first Sal Kilkenny book quickly followed by 2, 3 & 4 gutted that I can’t find 5 for kindle and wondered if it was in the pipeline for anytime soon?

    1. Hi Jude, thanks for getting in touch. Glad you’re enjoying them. Book 5 Towers of Silence is available on Kindle but 6 and 7 aren’t as yet. Hopefully they will be before too long.

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