Wednesday, June 29, 2011
The Importance of Format
One of the reasons my literary agent and I sought out Midnight Ink as a publisher was format. I wanted my books to be published in the two formats that Midnight Ink produces simultaneously--trade paperback and ebook. Why? Because readers were asking me for those formats. At the time, my mysteries were only in hardcover and large-print, both expensive formats that were hard to sell in a down economy.
Ideally, I'd love for my books to be available in all formats simultaneously, including hardcover, trade and mass-market paperback, ebook, large-print, audio, etc. so readers could choose the format they prefer. However, because of the costs involved and the low returns-on-investment of producing books in so many formats, most publishers only produce a subset of the possible formats. By restricting your book to only some formats, you're losing potential readers that prefer others. Of course, you want your book to be in the most popular formats. That's why the choice of publisher--and the formats they produce--is so important!
For a fiction author, ebook is becoming a more and more essential format. As discussed in this Publisher's Weekly article, fiction is the lead driver of ebook sales, accounting for 61% of sales and 51% of revenue in 2010. And by genre, Mystery/Detective is tied for fourth place with Romance, behind first place Literary/Classic (because of all the free classic books available), second place Science Fiction and third place Christian Fiction. So, as a mystery author, I am very, very glad that my most recent Deadly Currents mystery is available in ebook format, and even more pleased that they can be read on the entire gamut of devices, from Kindle and Nook to iPads, cell phones, and computers.
My new format goal? Downloadable audio! And yes, my agent knows I'm itching to sign away those rights. :)
As for what I prefer to read, I'm old-fashioned and choose paper over electronic, because I already spend so much time on a computer. And my favorite paper format is trade paperback. What about you? What book format(s) do you prefer?