It’s a fact - indie authors are always trying to do things on the cheap. If it’s free - promotion, marketing, cover templates - we’ve tried it. It’s also a fact that you get what you pay for. Meaning, if you didn’t pay a dime, you often times won’t see even a fraction of that dime back.
Believe it or not, this fact extends to ebook distribution as well. Companies like CreateSpace, Smashwords, and Lulu pitch their services as free to set up. They try to get us on services like book cover creation and editing services, but if you do these things yourself and just distribute your work as ebooks, you really can do it all for free.
BUT, here are the things you CAN’T do if you only distribute your work as an ebook:
- You can’t display an ebook that event goers (e.g. editors, bloggers, book buyers) can pick up and page through at trade shows.
- You can’t sign an ebook for any fans at an event you host.
- You can’t take an ebook with you to the doctor’s office to encourage people to ask what you’re reading, because they like the cover.
- You can’t get an ebook on the shelf at your local library or book store that readers/buyers might choose, again, because they like the cover.
Additionally, your work is seen as less professional by the publishing industry if you only distribute via ebook. Literary journalists prefer to have a physical copy of your book sent to them rather than a digital file, so if you don’t have a print version of your book available to send them, you’re already behind the curve in their opinion.
And, if you want one more reason to get on print distribution, here’s a personal fact: I’ve sold more copies of Into the Darkness in print form than in ebook form. Each of those sales also netted me higher royalties than the ebooks I sold. Think about that as you consider whether free ebook distribution is for you.