Choose your book format carefully.
Deciding which format(s) in which to release your book is a crucial consideration made by publishers. On the face of it for most books there is a simple choice: paperback, hardback (AKA cloth) or ebook. There are though of course many different sizes and versions of paperback and hardback, plus other formats available – including ringbound, loose-leaf, audiobooks. So assuming a limited budget decisions have to be made about which format(s) to choose.
Most publishers will expect to release a really good book in all three basic formats in order to maximise revenue and marketing potential. Provided the hardback is a good seller the paperback will be released. It is worth considering that although hardbacks do cost more to produce if you would like to have the option of selling on the rights at some point in the future a book which has not already been released in paperback will be a much more attractive proposition to a publisher.
The market for ebooks is still in its infancy. This means there are few hard and fast rules, the market is constantly evolving, and no-one knows for sure how it will look in two years time, let alone five or ten. One thing which seems pretty certain is this: ebooks sold without digital rights management (DRM) will not be a commercial success. Although there is debate both in the industry and amongst consumers about how restricting use of ebooks adversely affects readers, a book which can be freely copied and shared via the internet is probably not going to benefit the majority of authors (or recoup many of the production costs). The start-up costs for DRM can be extremely high, and for this reason alone it is likely that you will need to find an ebook distributor to take care of them.
Besides DRM considerations, choice of ebook distributor is also affected by the intended market. There are many different ways to enjoy ebooks, many different formats, and many different companies jostling for market position. Being aware of which companies can help to take your product to your (geographic and demographic) market is a crucial consideration when choosing ebook partners. Most distributors currently work with a few different formats, whereas at the other end of the spectrum Amazon’s Kindle ebook reader will only work with Amazon’s proprietory format.
With so many options, plus the added complications of rights management and distribution methods, there is a lot to consider when deciding the best format for your book.