I'm making a lot of changes over the next year so that I can continue to write and publish, and I can do it all without losing my sanity. Running your own business is hard work. Running your own creative business is even harder, in my opinion. Not only do I constantly have to be creative and write the books, I have to market and advertise them, audit my business and run the numbers, and handle stock.
When I decided last year that I would divide up my business, I also decided that from 2020 onward, I would focus on being 100% digital. Handling stock and paperbacks is not something I want to do anymore. And since I don't do in-person signings or sell bulk to schools or businesses or go to conventions, paperbacks are not a huge part of my business. In fact, they are a very small part of it.
Here are a few reasons why I'm discontinuing paperbacks and going 100% digital…
- It's more eco-conscious. Let's face it. Even if you love the smell of paperbacks and holding one in your hands, it's a nightmare for the environment. Paper must be manufactured which is destructive to trees and water supplies. Then it must be shipped from China (Yes, most of the paper comes from China). Printing also has a carbon footprint. Then those books must be shipped again from the supplier to the store or to you. All of this is not good for the environment, and I no longer want to be a part of the process.
- I will no longer have to rely on Amazon for my printing. Ever since Amazon switched my books from CreateSpace to Amazon KDP Print, it's been a problem. Hell, I used to make $20-$40 a month on paperbacks when they were on CreateSpace. Now, I'm lucky if I sell ONE paperback a month or every other month. I strongly suspect I'm selling paperbacks, but I'm not being paid for them. I could switch over to IngramSpark for my paperbacks but…
- I no longer want to spend the money and ISBNs on something that brings in so little profit. Switching all my books over to IngramSpark for printing will cost me a whole lot in fees and time. Even if I can find a way to decrease the fees (I could join an online organization that will give me a code to get by it, but that will also cost me a yearly fee), the time spent porting over all the books is just too much. I have A LOT of books, and my cozy mysteries will be a pain anyway once I switch them to my pen name. I decided to give IngramSpark a try for FIRST FLYGHT and see if I sold any of them. I've sold 4 since it went live in September. Also, I don't want to spend my ISBNs on paperbacks anymore. They're expensive, and I'd rather save them for ebooks.
- I will no longer have to rely on a physical supply chain for one of my income streams. This quarantine business has highlighted just how badly traditional publishing relies on physical sales to get by. And with paper not coming from China, printing presses shut down, warehouses closed, trucks sitting idle, and bookstores shuttered, they are not selling books, and then they won't be paying their authors. I would hate for my readers to buy a physical book from me and then not get it for weeks. Yes, I use print-on-demand but those places also fall afoul of supply chain issues. Yes, I may lose some readers, but I can tell you from experience and looking at my income spreadsheets, it's like less than 1% of my income. I encourage everyone to read digitally!
By concentrating 100% on digital, I'll be able to edit and publish my books in a streamlined fashion, leaving more time for either writing or my family or hobbies. I like that part the best! I'm all about streamlining and keeping my business lean.
As the year comes to a close, I will slowly be taking my paperbacks off sale. I will start with the Miso Cozy Mysteries when I port them over to my new pen name. Then I will discontinue the Hikoboshi paperbacks when I publish the last book in that series. Eventually, I'll take the Nogiku paperbacks off sale, too. By the time this post goes live, I will have discontinued the paperback for FIRST FLYGHT.
I hope that all explains some of my thoughts on this subject! I'll link back here when people have questions for me about why I don't offer paperbacks anymore.