This post also relates to books published by small independent presses, which is how my first novel came about.
A couple of years ago I wrote about the printing process and how errors creep in because of all the to-ing and fro-ing between documents. This is the process I went through with my Publisher and POD printers.
The traditional printing technique is called offset printing. Plates bearing the book's page images are prepared and the set up costs are the same despite the number of books printed. Trads will print as many books as they can in the initial print run to keep the costs per unit to a minimum.
As my previous post explains, with the print-on demand model, books are saved in PDF format and printed off a computer. They can be sold as single units to the public because it's quick and easy to print one at a time once the order has come in and been paid for. There's no minimum print requirement which has many benefits - books are paid for in advance so no cashflow issues, no need to rent a warehouse to store hundreds of copies of your book, easy to make amendments to the manuscript, books don't have a limited shelf life and they never go out of print!
However, here comes the bad news. The problem with POD publishing is the cost per unit is determined by the size of the PDF manuscript ie. by the number of pages that need to be printed. The way the trade works is they buy in bulk from the Trads, so they get a big discount which they then pass on to their customers. This is how it translates: I'm selling the printed version of my debut novel for £12.99 (approx 275 pages in PDF format). A Trad could sell the same book for RRP £8.99 and further discount it for the trade by a couple of quid, or even reduced further as part of a two book offer. These discounts are possible because the mass market incentive is clearly visible. There is no such appeal with self published or small press books because we just don't have the clout.
Don't despair though! If someone reads your eBook and really connects with it, they might be inclined to buy a printed version. Also, as your backlist grows and especially if you're writing a series, there's an opportunity to produce a really nice complete works, which you could offer to your readers in print. It's all about experimenting with format and price, finding out what your audience wants and then delivering it to them.
Blogging is an amazing concept so here I am giving it a whirl. You'll get words. You'll get pics. Sometimes a vid or two. You'll get tongue in cheek, the odd humble opinion and an honest insight into my travels and writing life. Maybe even a few gems along the way. I'll be musing on home turf as I see more and more of the UK and sharing my experiences further afield on holidays and adventurous trips across the globe.