The Truth About E-book Only Production

I have something shocking to tell you. There’s a lot of bad advice on the internet.

At Columbus Publishing Lab, we advise a 5-step publishing process for all books that we produce.  This process is based on founder Brad Pauquette’s industry experience, and our confidence is based on the results we’ve achieved. It’s not “cheap,” but it produces a book as good or better than what’s coming out of the Big 5 publishers. And it pays off.

In an effort to save money, and based on bad advice on the internet, many of our clients are interested in only producing an e-book. But, if you’re producing an excellent, professional book, e-book only distribution isn’t going to save you that much money.

Our 5 steps of the production process are 1) developmental editing, 2) copy editing, 3) interior design, 4) cover design and 5) proofreading.  Learn more about these 5 steps by grabbing a free copy of Brad Pauquette’s book, The Self-Publishing Handbook, here.

The first two steps are typically the most expensive, and that’s what improves the content of your book. Developmental editing and copy editing are the steps that make your book the best piece of literature it can be. These steps maximize positive reviews and sales.  Whether you’re producing an e-book, a print book, or both, these are really important steps.

Foregoing a print book will save you a little bit of money on the interior design and the cover design, but that’s it.  If you’re approaching your project as a professional, you still need professional editing and only producing an e-book will save you less than 15% of the total budget.

E-books account for approximately 40% of our total book sales. If you don’t produce a print book, you’re throwing 60% of your potential sales out the window. Are you willing to sacrifice 60% of your sales to save 15% on your production costs?

That bad “give it a try with an e-book only” advice comes from the days when big initial print runs were mandatory for print books.  Not only did a self-publishing author have to spend money on the production, but they would drop thousands of dollars on an initial offset print run to store in a warehouse.  If that was still the case today, then an e-book only plan would save thousands on that expense. But now, with print on demand technology, there’s no reason to print a bunch of books up front, and that expense doesn’t exist.

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Using our unique distribution system, there’s no need to print any books up front if you don’t want to.  All we need to produce is outstanding source files, and then those books are printed only when a customer orders the book.  The print-run risk is completely mitigated for the publisher or author, and the customer receives the same prompt book delivery they expect from retailers like Amazon and Barnes & Noble.

The only way that producing only an e-book works out is if you also use it as an excuse to skip professional editing.  And that’s a bad idea.  There are some outliers—a few books that an author pushed out over the weekend which went on to hit major success—but these are exceptionally rare.  Readers care about editing quality, and readers care about the development of the narrative—plot holes, poorly developed characters and unrealistic dialog bother readers, a lot.

When it’s time to publish, when it’s time to take your first shot and step into the marketplace as a new author, you owe it to yourself to put your best foot forward. Contact us today by emailing us at or calling 614-805-3982 to learn how we can help you to produce an outstanding book, distributed to all major markets, in print AND e-book.

We look forward to working with you.