Who Needs a Short Story Paperback Anyway?

So you’ve written your short story. You’ve either designed a cover or paid for it to be done, the book has been edited to within an inch of its life and you’ve converted all of it into the eBook version(s) of your choice.

You’re officially an author. So far, so good.

Now, if you’re using Amazon’s KDP, it will suggest that you start making a paperback version, and that may create a moment of doubt in your mind. Do you need a paperback? Are people even buying them as much nowadays? And what if your literary work is an 8K short? Surely there’s no reason to invest that time (and possibly money, if you don’t do it all yourself) in a flimsy, thirty-two-page paperback. That is a COMPLETE waste of time. Right?

It sounds logical, but I offer four reasons why it’s not. Four reasons why creating a short story paperback is a fundamentally great idea. Four reasons why I have turned significantly shorter works into paperbacks.

1 – LEGITIMACY

“Anyone can publish a book nowadays.”

I’m sure you’ve all heard something like that at some point and, to a degree it is true. Whilst ‘traditional’ publishing can still be a grind, self-publishing, either via vanity publishers or true self-publishing, has never been easier. Now, whilst that is a blessing to many of us, the lack of quality control does mean that the market can get flooded with a sea of substandard published prose (something I actually parody in one particular series).

However, having a physical book in your portfolio gives you a degree of legitimacy and respectability in the eyes of many. It sets you above the run-of-the-mill indie author and places you on a level to which they can only aspire… OK, I’ve gone way too far with that, but you get my drift (obviously, I am excluding friends and family in this – some people will never change).

“Anyone can publish a book nowadays.” suddenly becomes “Oh! You’re a real writer.” They will want to hold it, flick through it and ponder over a paragraph or two. You may get another sale or, better still, a dedicated advocate of your work.

2 – COVERAGE

By offering a paperback option for your book on Amazon, it gives you two channels for people to find you. Not everyone wants an eBook and they may be searching in just the physical book sections for titles in your genre. What would have been a lost chance could now become a potential sale.

I appreciate that I am slightly oversimplifying things here, and I won’t go into the many arguments about Amazon vs paid ISBNs here – that’s a whole different post – but physical books also allow you to go ‘wide’, getting you into other online sites and physical stores as well as libraries, book-clubs and a plethora (I do like a good ‘plethora’) of other places.

3 – GIVEAWAYS

As an (KDP) author, you get to buy author copies at cost (plus P+P). Unless you’re writing a door-stop of a novel – and this article is focusing specifically on shorts – these are going to cost you in the region of two-to-three dollars per unit. Based on a recent purchase I made of five separate titles (with $5.95 postage), delivery charges appear to be combined, rather than a ‘per unit’ cost, effectively making each book cheaper if you buy them in bulk.

Of course, if you have experienced a different situation, please share it below.

But back to the giveaways.

Sure, you can provide bookmarks and mugs, key fobs and even bespoke kindle covers, but what’s better than giving your readers a free physical copy of your existing reader magnet? They may not be drinkers, you may not know if they own a Kindle or even have keys (too far?), but you do know they are readers!

I have a book of 24 sonnets. Now, as an erotic writer, they are sensual, sexy, comedic or just plain naughty – a perfect product for the wide tastes of my readers. As it is not enrolled in Kindle Unlimited, I can use this as my main reader magnet in my attempts to pull in more subscribers to my (extremely infrequent) ‘Muse’letter.

More recently, I created a paperback version and now send the occasional signed copy to readers as gifts, as well using them in face-to-face events when they start up again. No matter how much tech we have in our lives, nearly every reader still appreciates holding a physical copy in their hands. It will also be used for prizes run on my social media and website.

4 – A BIGGER PORTFOLIO – FOR FREE

Like with book bundles (where you offer 2, 3, 4 or more in a series as one download/book for a discounted price), paperback versions of an existing book increase your portfolio for ‘free’ (time and possible full cover costs aside). All you need to do is lay it out and you have doubled your products. Your two novellas and three short stories are now ten products with little effort.

CONCLUSION

I fully get that not many people are going to pay 4.99 for a thirty-two-page book(let). But some will. However, and perhaps surprisingly, you’re not making these paperbacks for the express purpose of selling them. Sure, any extra sales all count, but my four arguments above outweigh the few extra sales that these books may generate.

Being seen as a ‘legitimate author’, having access to more outlets, offering a substantial giveaway (are they really going to ‘show off’ a bookmark?) and being seen as a ‘prolific’ author, can help potential readers to give you a try.

After that, it’s down to your content…

So, have I convinced you that short story paperbacks are worth the time and effort? Will you reconsider your approach to offering physical copies too?

Let me know below.

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