How to Publish an Ebook Series – Part 1: Hard Copy vs. Ebook

Note: For my most current advice on writing and selling your ebooks, check out my guide eBooks The Smart Way (Editor’s Note 09/2015).

Ok, so I’ve talked about income, marketing and building relationships with customers—but I haven’t really gone into how I actually wrote my eBook. I plan to go over this process in a series of posts for you, because it will take more than one—for sure. I’m honestly not quite sure how many it will take, but pay close attention, because I’m going to go over exactly what my thought process was and how it was all accomplished.

In the Beginning

Before, all I had was a website which was earning about 50 bucks a month with adsense. I had not planned on writing a book, but after a few “OMG, your website is so helpful, you should write a book” comments, I figured I might as well give it a shot. I mean—it was only a couple hours of extra work each day, which I found by cutting out things in my life that wasted my time. If it didn’t work out, all I lost was a little bit of time and a few dollars to set up the shopping cart—that’s it.

It’s not like I was forking over hundreds of thousands of dollars for a start-up that may or may not succeed, it was just a book/study guide which required some research, time and effort—not much as far as start up capital is concerned. As you can see from my most recent sales report, I’m very glad I decided to go through with it.

The Hard Copy or Electronic Copy Debate

After making the decision to write the book, the question was whether it should be a hard copy or an electronic book. These are a few of the pros and cons with each that I was thinking of at the time:

Publishing a Hard Copy Book

  • PROS: easier to read, people are more comfortable buying a hard copy book online, possibility of seeing book in retail stores and, more difficult to “pirate”
  • CONS: more expensive to create, publisher fees, printing copies, shipping to customers, possibility of not having enough books for number of customers (backorders), possibility of having too many books and no orders (oversupply), inventory space, only portion of sales price is profit, once it’s printed it’s really hard to re-issue a revision.

Publishing an Electronic Book

  • PROS: easier to create, can automate the delivery process, don’t have to worry about oversupply or back orders, don’t have to be present to complete a sale, all sales are 100% profit (no printers or publishers to pay), easy to give “free copies” to people for reviews and gifts at no cost, easy to correct errors and send updates.
  • CONS: harder to get people to buy an eBook, easy to “pirate” (security), harder to read on screen, less satisfaction because it’s electronic and not a “real” book.

I’m really glad I wrote these down in my “idea notebook” so I could share them with you almost an entire year later. Anyways, I did some further research, and ALMOST went with a service that offered on-demand printing.

On Demand Printing? What’s That?

When I found out about on-demand printing, I swore this was the method I was going to choose for my study guide. I found one service via, and it sounded very promising.

Basically, you self-publish your book, submit it in a PDF or Adobe Illustrator format, and then you set up a shop. When people come to your shop and purchase your book, LuLu will print it “on-demand” in a custom book size and cover type you specify. The best part: they also send it to the customer for you and take care of the printing, shipping and they also handle your cash flow too. Pretty freaking cool! And I still think it is, but there are a few reasons why I didn’t end up using this method.

Here is a screenshot from’s cost calculator that is similar to the size of the eBook I published.

This would be how much it would cost for 1 copy of the book. Note that the pages are front and back, so the total number of pages here is actually 186 (My guide is about this size). This doesn’t include any special services LuLu offers, like designing a cover, editing services, getting an ISBN number, etc.

$9.20 goes to for every one book I sell. My profit depends on my retail price. If I set it at $29.95, for example, I’d earn about $20.00 profit for each book. Not bad at all, especially with no inventory, no shipping and little hassle.

So what’s wrong with this model?

Nothing is wrong with the on-demand model, but there are a few things I liked better about selling an electronic book from my own website:

  • I ordered a couple sample books from (a couple fiction stories and a sudoku puzzle book) and the quality was just ok. Also, I did some research on the PDF (or AI format) to hard copy book conversion process, and it takes a little while to make sure all the settings are correct to get the right looking final product.
  • I wasn’t too excited about setting up a storefront on to sell my book either. This meant that people would be directed from my site to a page on where the “purchase” button is located” and I probably wouldn’t be able to customize much. By selling an eBook from my site, the potential customer feels like they are always with my site with less steps involved (the buy now button is on my website). Remember, the less steps that are involved between when a customer is interested in your product and the purchase page, the less chance there is for the customer to leave (aka. bounce).
  • Why give away $9.20, when I could keep that all for myself. The electronic book model I wanted to setup handles all the transactions and deliveries automatically too, and I get to keep almost 100% of the sale price for profit. So, for every $29.95 book I sell, I get to put $29.95 into my pocket (less about a dollar for fees). Over hundreds of books, that adds up to a lot of money. In total, I’ve sold about 3000 books, so if I had gone with the on-demand method, I would have “lost” $27,600 (since my book does actually sell for $29.95).

And The Winner Is…

So obviously you know already that I chose to write an eBook :)

My next post will be about how exactly I created a final eBook product for sale. You’ll be interested to know that you can very easily get started on your own today. After you have your idea, the first step is to just start writing in your favorite word processing software (like Word), like I did! It’s easy!

More about my eBook journey to success to come…enjoy!

  • Wojciech Kulicki

    I’m looking forward to tomorrow’s post, as I’ve always wanted to have something published in one form or another – the eBook seems like the perfect vehicle, and one of the most attractive features is definitely the low cost of up-front production.

    On a related note, it’s absolutely AMAZING how many people have called me or one of my colleagues this week to get advice on taking the LEED exam. This is in part to the changing format, and in part due to the many lay-offs in our industry with people looking to diversify their expertise. I have a feeling your eBooks are going to keep on growing at an explosive rate! I’ve been referring everyone to your site. :)

    Wojciech Kulicki´s last blog post..Ideas for Cheap Dates

  • Maria @ Residual Income Web

    I am deliberating about my next book, and may release it both as an ebook as well as a hard copy. Some readers really want to receive a physical book and not bother with printing out a PDF.

    Maria @ Residual Income Web´s last blog post..How to Make Money with a Website: Writing Content

  • jen brister

    The book we’re working on is finished! However, we have decided to go through Create Space instead of LULU, because they are directly affiliated with and the ISBN number is free!

    I have a friend who is a graphic designer who is going to set it all up for me.

    jen brister´s last blog post..Taking a Time Out

  • Jeff

    Love love LOVE this post — I’m finding that I’m coming to similar points/conclusions in my ebook journey as you have — so hope I can follow through with the results as well 😉

    Jeff´s last blog post..To blog or not to blog? Do you find it beneficial??

  • Studenomics

    Thanks for the suspense Pat! I have been making notes for my own book so I’m looking forward to reading this series. Actually to be honest I was going to email you in a few weeks with some questions but I figured I would wait until you settled down from your honeymoon.

    Studenomics´s last blog post..Establishing Rapport With Your College Professors

  • Do You Dave Ramsey?

    Great series Pat… I’d love to have an e-book product as much for the ego trip as for the potential rev stream. I have a couple basic/simplistic questions but I’ll wait until you drop another installment or 2 before asking as I’m sure you about to cover my bases.

    Thanks, I truly look forward to learning from your experiences!

    Do You Dave Ramsey?´s last blog post..Some Answers Are Obvious

  • TightFistedMiser

    Looking forward to the rest of the series. I’ve wanted to know the “how” of how you published your ebook since I started reading this blog.

    TightFistedMiser´s last blog post..“The Cure for Money Madness” Winner

  • Sarah H.

    I’m very excited about this series! My husband and I were just brainstorming possibly ebook ideas last night. It’s interesting hearing about the “on-demand” printing option–I did not know about that. However, it seems you made a great choice.

    You mentioned pros and cons in your hard copy vs. electronic copy book thought process. I would love to hear your thoughts about ebook piracy. Have you had issues with this? Is it just something an ebook author has to accept (i.e. there’s nothing you can do about it). Are there things you can do to prevent (or reduce) piracy? Feel free to save answers to these questions in a future post if you already have one planned on the topic. :)

    Sarah H.´s last blog post..Mission: Appliances – Deep Fat Fryer

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  • Scott @ The Passive Dad

    Great post. Can’t wait to read the rest of your series. Glad your sharing your knowledge for those of us wanting to start an ebook.

    Scott @ The Passive Dad´s last blog post..Can’t Make Up Your Mind? Call A Frugal Friend

  • Steve @ Start-Up

    I’ve been waiting for a series like this ever since i started reading your blog. I am definitely going with the ebook method because my competitors already have a strong presence with hard copies. My target audience is much more likely to use the internet to find information than buying a hard copy though. Can’t wait for the rest of the series.

    Steve @ Start-Up´s last blog post..My Favorite Articles of the Week

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  • carla f


    Thanks for your wonderful site and your inspirational articles. You are very generous. My question is would a cookbook do well as an ebook?

  • Steve

    This is such a high value series that you are posting. Thanks so much! I am going to be working on e-book creation in the next year or so, but not before reading up on how you did it. Thanks for being such an inspiring and generous trail blazer!

    Steve´s last blog post..Do You Recognize these Early Warning Signs of Career Atrophy?

  • DDFD at

    Pat: Thanks for tackling this topic . . .

    DDFD at´s last blog post..So Long Blockbuster . . . ?

  • Gordon Crack

    Hello Guru, what entice you to post an article. This article was extremely interesting, especially since I was searching for thoughts on this subject last Thursday.

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  • Mike

    thanks for this series. I’m learning a lot. Much appreciated.


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  • Residual Income – Kai

    Great article. Although having people steal your ebook and pass it around is a concern, only a small percentage of people do it anyway.

  • Litunovskiy

    Especially involves that that anybody more probably and has not understood that the author meant

  • http://Website Snobel

    Howdy, the entire thingvery important

  • HKS

    informative article! Thank you!

  • Rory Mullen

    I am so excited for the start of my e-book. I will follow your advice along with others and see if I can Succeed.

  • Amir Rimer

    In my opinion, the major advantage of a book is that it adds to your credibility, yet the major disadvantage is that it is harder to update.

    I wrote a book about selling websites, and I have put it on Lulu, yet very shortly after the book was complete it has became dated because the auction site (the Sitepoint marketplace) has done a complete overall of its layout.

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  • Alisha

    Thanks for the advice, it really helped me! I’m thinking about writing an eBook and this really sold me on the idea. Thanks again.

  • christy Nathan

    Thanks for the great information about the sales of your E-book and I also think to publish my E-book.


    ebook publishing statistics

  • Pingback: How to Publish an Ebook Series – Part 2 – Getting Started()

  • Eric Suh

    Hi Pat,

    Been a long time follower and I’ve recently launched my own blog called “The Find Your Income Blog” over at

    I’m publishing a post this week and wanted to get your permission to link to this How to Publish an ebook series, so my readers could see this excellent guide for themselves.

    Keep up the great work Pat!

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