Posted by on Mar 22, 2016 in Evergreen, Playwriting | 0 comments

Should you publish your play as a printed book or eBook only? What formats should you use? What platforms? Dipping back into the mailbag today for another one of the questions I got on my big post about self-publishing a stage play. 

Thanks for your helpful post on my self-publishing question. Would love to know (seeing as how you have a background with Lulu) what format you use to publish (epub, pdf, etc.). I was thinking publishing electronically more so than print, but if you think it’s easy enough to do both, would love your thoughts.

Any helpful further tips for what to try/avoid in publishing to Amazon, etc. would be appreciated. My idea was to use Amazon in addition to a service like Gumroad — where I can upload/sell myself.

I’ve actually found a publishing site (tablo.io) where I was able to upload and edit my text then export as an ePub. Tablo has a service that allows me to just upload to Amazon and Apple (though they take 30%) and I was hoping to kinda avoid any more percentage than those sites already take. Do you use Amazon’s publishing tools? I think the main thing at this point is getting them formatted into mobi and setting up all my Author page on Amazon.

Would love your insights if you are willing to share. Thanks!

printed ebook photoI do both print and eBooks. The printed book is harder to set up than the eBook but, once you know what you’re doing, it gets easier every time.

While I sell more eBook copies than print, I do bulk order discounts on acting editions for groups doing productions and make a nice cut off those (more than on retail because publishing is dumb). My bulk order is a BIG discount off retail and I offer it because it encourages groups to come to me directly for the savings rather than to try to purchase all the copies at retail cost and this has provided some protection against unauthorized productions in the past.

That said, as long as you don’t mind authorizing printing or other reproduction of your electronic script and have a plan in mind for managing that, you don’t have to have a print edition. Obviously, piracy and unauthorized duplication is a concern and I have had issues with that in the past, though luckily nothing too bad. It’s just something you have to be aware of and deal with as it comes up.

I also like to have a printed copy to get me into physical book stores like The Drama Book Shop where directors can stumble upon my play which has happened. A printed book also gives me something to sell or give out at events and signings. While you can do this with an eBook, it’s not as seamless.

But the biggest reason that I’m team printed book is that the printed book is around forever. Many times, I’ve gotten productions because someone found an old copy of one of my scripts lying around somewhere and thought to check it out. For all the piracy concerns with eBooks, the software and DRM all sort of encourage people to hoard them while a good ole paper book gets passed around. More eyes on the script always equals more productions.

For eBooks, I go direct to Nook Press (BN), Kobo, Google Play and Amazon because that limits the amount skimmed off the top. All but Amazon take ePubs though Google will also take alternate file formats. Amazon is by far the most user friendly and easiest process (you don’t really need to convert to Mobi, their converter will do a great job on most word files) while the others have a steeper learning curve. Smashwords gets you in a bunch of other marketplaces beyond the main ones but they are such a massive pain to deal with, I only use them sparingly.

For printed books, I use CreateSpace and Lightning Source. Lightning Source (LSI) is a steeper learning curve and more expensive but they have much wider distribution through Bowker than CreateSpace which is really limited to just Amazon, no matter what their PR tries to tell you. But I usually start a book out on just CreateSpace since they don’t charge to proof like LSI does and expand the distribution later as needed.

It’s a great idea to sell it directly yourself as you’ll keep more of the profit. The best tip I can give you there is to get the most user friendly shopping cart experience you can and to make sure your website is optimized for mobile. The easier it is to purchase, the more likely people are to pull the trigger!

Photo by katerha