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Paperback Writer

By Michael Heath /

Paperback Writer , self-publish paperback book

Everyone has heard the Beatles’ song “Paperback Writer” about the desperate author who asks a publisher to read his manuscript: “It took me years to write; will you take a look?” Paul McCartney says he liked the word paperback and decided to use it in a song after an aunt implored him to compose a tune about something besides love.

Are you a paperback writer?

There are several formats in which you can make your book available to readers. Let’s go through them to see what the best approach might be.

Traditional publishers normally introduce a novel as a hardcover wrapped in a dust jacket. The heavy-duty binding gives the book a long life but is expensive to produce. Dust jackets are detachable and relatively fragile but do serve a promotional purpose. Inner flaps contain biographical information about the author, a summary of the book’s contents or critical praise by recognized people. When hardcover sales dwindle, publishers will reintroduce the book in trade paperback format. This means a quality paperback containing high-caliber paper stock, a heavyweight cover and premium binding. Although not as durable as a hardcover, these well-constructed books are more economical while delivering an appealing presentation. Trade paperbacks are the only softcover books that a bookstore will stock on its shelves.

Sometimes when the trade paperback sales have neared their end, the publisher will print mass-market copies. These smaller-sized editions contain lower quality materials and go through a cheaper production process. Even the cover art is less flattering to distinguish them from the better trade paperback. Mass-market books are sold in supermarkets and “big box” merchandisers like Walmart.

E-books are an important category. Digital has not replaced print (at least, not yet) so my advice is always to get the print book out to the public and see how it goes. If enough people ask for a digital version, ordering an e-book conversion would be a natural next step.

Audio books are increasing in popularity as advances in technology make them cheaper to produce; the average cost has dropped from $25,000 to $2,500. Here again, it pays to wait and see if there is a demand before jumping in. I am partial to starting out with a trade paperback. They look good, can be held in one’s hand and sell at an affordable price point. If you are a paperback writer, it is time to get your book published -- especially if your work is based on a novel by a man named Lear.

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