How to Choose Your Self-Publishing Format

Times are changing, and the ebook has made reading anything you want easy, accessible, and quick. There are no more library or bookstore queues, no more waiting for a book to be available at your bookseller. You can access the world of books through your Kindle or eReader. But here’s the thing. As a writer, you might not want to self-publish your book in an ebook format.

Even though the times are changing, there is still something about holding that paperback or hardback book. It can be a completely sensual experience. But if writing is your business, you want to write something that will gain the most success. How do you know which self-publishing format to choose in order to get you that success?

This post will cover:

  1. How to find out what’s selling in terms of format
  2. Things to consider about formatting
  3. Your options as a self-publisher to get the most out of your format

What’s Selling in Terms of Format?

In many ways, it’s all a matter of opinion on what kind of books people like to read. Think about what you as a reader prefer for you too are a reader, and your own opinion may be the same as someone else’s, especially since you enjoy reading your genre.

As a reader, does the format you choose change depending on the genre or the author or the length of book? Perhaps you read paper and hardbacks when you’re at home, but when you travel, you bring your ebook. Everyone is different. They may have a reason for choosing what they select or they may choose at random depending on what’s available. What you have to do is do proper research in order to find out what’s really working for the books in your category.

A great way to take a look at what’s selling in terms of format is to look at stats of books sales. In 2020, English print books came out on top, with paperbacks winning it all. There was even an increase in purchases in paperbacks in the last year. COVID certainly had something to do with the increase, but overall, print books are generally more sellable and have been winning the “battle” against ebooks since the dawn of their beginning.

Research the benefits of both print books and ebooks while you check out the stats. So what if ebooks are falling behind print books in terms of sales? They’re still no slouch. They achieve good sales and readership, but they’re usually not the only format that people are selecting. According to Toner Buzz, 28% of people are reading a mixture of print and ebooks. People want the print book for the experience, but they also want the ebook for its glorious ease. Whether you choose ebook or print, you’ll make sales; it’s just about how many you’ll make.

Other things to Consider When Choosing a Format

When making your decision, reflect on:

  • your audience
  • your genre
  • your potential sales.

Not every genre is the same when it comes to format. Think about your book: its style, whether its fiction or nonfiction, and what its specific subgenre is. It looks like people generally use ebooks for genre fiction like thrillers and romances. (To be honest, some people use ebooks to hide what they’re reading from others! If you’re in the erotic romance genre, the ebook could be your key to success!)

However, nonfiction books, especially if used for research, might be a little more unwieldy to read on a Kindle while an ebook lends itself gloriously to reading a mystery novel on the beach. Think also about your readers and your audience. Are your readers stuck on certain formats or do they like a mixture of both? You’ve done your genre research already. You know what your readers like.

This can be a great chance to join a few reader forums as well. If you’re already established, you can publish questions like that on your website and wait for comments. If you’re new at this, you can check out author and reader forums online. The answers are out there. People have preferences, especially when it comes to their favorite genres.

Then there is the conundrum of falling prey to the world of technology by succumbing to the power of the ebook. We get it. Print books are awesome and timeless. But if you want to create income through your writing, you have to think about your potential sales.

Get the Most Out of Your Format: Your Options as a Self-Publisher

You’ve got options. What’s great about self-publishing is, the ball is totally in your court. First option is, you can stay solely with print. Paperbacks are more successful than hardbacks, but they are still both above ebooks in terms of sales. You can guarantee sales success (if you market properly, of course).

The print book

If you go the way of a print book, there are two options for you. You can print a certain number of initial copies and then sell those. That would mean you’re stocking your house full of your own books, and you’re in charge of shipping. Or, you can use a print on demand service. This service will print books only when your customers order, so that you don’t end up with a pile of print books that haven’t sold, thus wasting your money. They also will handle the packaging and shipping for you.

The ebook

Second option is, you can head the direction of the ebook. It’s easy; it’s popular. You need to do the formatting properly, and then your platform will take care of everything else.

We suggest choose both

If you’re a strict print book lover, and you feel like you’re selling out if you offer an ebook, there is a compromise. You can self-publish using a mixture of formats. A lot of self-publishing platforms offer this as an option such as Ingram Spark and KDP. Then, you can cover both bases and offer your readers just what they want. This is also a great option if you want to get a paperback version of your book to put on your own shelves.


There are a lot of unknowns and questions that come up when you go through the process of self-publishing your book. However, choosing your format doesn’t have to be one of them. Go into it with your eyes open. Do your research, find out pertinent info, and make your choice from there. Good things to note are that print books aren’t going anywhere, and even though ebooks are generally lower in sales than print, they aren’t going anywhere either. Their popularity is also projected to grow in future. Win, win!

For other resources, tips, and ideas, take a look at these great sites:


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Kerilee Nickles

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