Is it Better for Authors to Sell eBooks or Paperbacks?

Posted on July 19, 2014

That was the question I was recently asked. And here was my response:

Sebastian Cole

Sebastian Cole, award-winning author of SAND DOLLAR: A Story of Undying Love

The answer may vary depending on whom you’re talking to: a traditionally-published author or a self-published author.

When approaching literary agents, the first question they might ask is how many books have you sold. A self-published author might then start backpedaling, explaining that their books are only available online, not in the general trade. For me (a self-published author), I’ve sold 14,000 SAND DOLLAR eBooks online in comparison to selling… ahem, well let’s just say, a lot less of the paperback version online. My paperback sales are somewhat embarrassing to mention, especially to a literary agent, who may be looking for sales of at least 20,000 paperbacks, if not more. On the other hand, selling 14,000 eBooks is a decent number — at least for me, anyway. Since I’ve had success selling eBooks, I suppose that is where my best chances lie for continued success, especially if I ever want to make USA Today’s Best-Selling Books list of the top 150 books sold each week.

My best chance of making a bestseller list is to run a 99-cent promotion while using companies like BookBub and others to promote my book. The last time I did this, I sold 3,000 eBooks in a week, which was pretty good, but not good enough to make USA Today’s Bestseller list. Perhaps I’d have to sell double that number in a week to make their list.

So to answer the question, I suppose I’d rather sell eBooks, and in particular, I’d like to sell them when I’m running a promotion.

For me, it’s not about the money. Book sales aren’t great enough for me to make any substantial amount of money. And I’m seemingly years away from recouping my initial investment. Perhaps one day that might all change if my career as an author ever takes flight, however. Pursuing your dreams, if you can, makes the journey so worthwhile, regardless of the outcome. Only time will tell…



On a separate note, here’s my horoscope for today (July 19, Leo): “Very soon the spotlight will swing back around to you. Take advantage of this time. You still have the privacy and peace you need in order to reinvent yourself and hone your act.”

Heheh. 🙂

2 responses

  1. Interesting info. Well worth understanding. Thank you.
    The following is not spam but a desire to share with those I also follow the new riveting (imho) fiction I’m writing these days: http://toullasstory.wordpress.com/2014/07/18/toulla-laid-down-her-gun-14th-entry/
    Thank you for taking the time to have a look.
    Pat

    July 19, 2014 at 2:53 pm

    • Hi, Pat. Good luck with your writing!

      Sebastian 🙂

      July 20, 2014 at 9:00 am

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