like a real, actual, book. for real.

The day I got my first kindle was the day I stopped buying dead-tree fiction. I have bought books for my kids, of course. And I have bought cookbooks, and reference books on subjects like seashell identification and crochet patterns… but I have not purchased a physical copy of a fiction book for myself in over five years.

Until now.

I completed the harrowing (for me) process of uploading my story Love You Forever to Createspace, and then… I ordered two copies. I’ve uploaded to createspace before, and people have purchased physical copies of my books. But I never myself ordered one. Not even a proof copy. So this is the first time I’ve held one of my books in my hands.

I’m not sure how I’m supposed to feel about this? I’ve seen status updates from people who get their paperback shipments, people who are proudly showing off stacks of glossy-covered novels with their name on them. Usually these pics come attached to “squee!!” type comments, and then a bunch of responses from friends like “Isn’t it the best feeling ever to hold your book in your hands!?!” and “Congratulations!!” And I’m never sure what exactly people are talking about. I suspect it is not only the physical copy of their story which is so pleasing, but also the fact it was published (usually by a traditional house) that is the source of their pride. I get it: if your book is worth the expense and production of a print run, it must be a pretty good story, right? And I’m happy for these people, because they are happy, and I usually chime in. But I have never had the urge to hold my own books in physical form.

So I’m sitting here with my two copies, and I’m thinking – next time I’m totally going for the 5×8 trim size, and not the default 6×9. And I’m going to do a better job on the back copy. No reason to be just the blurb there. Maybe a wraparound cover image, full bleed, would be better? No drop shadow on my name next time, but it looks good on the title, in this font anyway. Maybe I’ll put an author bio at the end of the book, with a picture. So yeah, instead of being happy about holding an actual copy of my book, I’m critiquing it.

Here, you can too:


It is kind of neat, I guess, to have it in a “real” form. But for me, e-books ARE “real.” It might just be what I’ve become used to? I don’t know. I’m also not a book hoarder. To me, the value is in the words, not the container. Unless I was going to re-read (super rare for me) I always shared or donated all the paperbacks I owned.

There is something else dulling my enthusiasm for these printed copies of my story. Truly, holding them makes me slightly nervous. All those little issues of the image being maybe a tiny bit too far to the left, or the back copy being too skimpy, or the trim size being not the best choice… what if I re-design the cover at some point? And what if there are typos I missed? (I’m certain there are) The physical book is so permanent. *Note to self: next time, do a better job formatting and make everything perfect before going live with the paperback.

But on the flip side, books can be passed around, so that is cool. People can share a physical book much more easily than an e-book. And they have long lifespans, and can pop up in unexpected places. Maybe in ten years someone will pick my book up from a bin at the thrift shop! That could never happen with an e-book. *Note to self: next time, include back copy with other titles and author information

So today I will use to pick a winner in my HAHAT contest, and if they want a physical signed copy of my story, I am ready to mail it out to them! Now, I just need to figure out what to do with the other one…

11 thoughts on “like a real, actual, book. for real.

  1. The books came out nice, at least judging by the little photos.

    > next time I’m totally going for the 5×8 trim size, and not the default 6×9

    Good call. I don’t know why 6×9 is the default.

    > *Note to self: next time, do a better job formatting and make everything perfect before going live with the paperback.

    I still have three copies of the book I did a print version for, and I don’t want to give them away because I’ve corrected a number of problems since I had those printed. It’s funny how when someone screws up on an album, those screw-ups turn into rare collectibles, but screw-ups on a book just turn into an embarrassment you want to hide at the back of your closet.

    • I know! We should totally make ‘uncorrected editions’ a thing in book collecting 🙂
      I have so much self-doubt, and I think seeing the book in physical form really brings all that front and center. Like while writing, I’m thinking “is this book dumb? would anyone really want to read this?” and then holding the book, I think “oh my god this book IS dumb!”
      I know it’s not, though, I really do like this story… I just feel so self-conscious about my writing. I have to get better about that. Maybe I should force myself to order print copies of my books as a kind of therapy 🙂

  2. > Maybe I should force myself to order print copies of my books as a kind of therapy

    Plus also too, when uncorrected editions become a “thing,” you’ll have a stockpile to throw up on ebay. 😉

    I get the self-doubt…although seeing a print copy has much less of an effect than heading over to Goodreads and seeing the latest reviews. (Throughout the day, I move my cursor toward the “Author Dashboard,” and then a Very Responsible Voice in my head says, “Do you really need to demoralize yourself right now? I didn’t think so. Don’t you have writing you should be doing anyway?”)

    • ugh goodreads. Now that is a scary place. A member of my critique group gave me a good piece of advice the other day when I was down in the dumps about a review, she said: “many reviews say more about the reviewer than the book itself” and that really resonated with me, and helped me to see things in a new way.
      When I re-read my reviews with that in mind, I realized she was right. These reviewers (even the positive ones) were only just talking about themselves, not me or my story really. Just stating the way it affected them, giving their interpretation. And the negative ones were maybe looking for a little attention, trying to be funny or snarky, but still it was mostly about them. So that helped.
      But still, goodreads = self destruction for me 🙂

  3. I am a physical book person. I love books. I love holding them, and the weight. I love the smell of paper. It’s hard, for me, to cuddle up with a reading device, and man are they hard to read outside >.<
    That being said, I haven't yet attempted createspace. Maybe with the omnibus edition…
    But the book looks good to me!

    • Thanks! Yeah, the upload was a learning curve, for me, but that’s mostly because KDP makes it so darn easy to format that I never have to worry about things like starting with the first text page on an odd number/right hand page and all that. But it worked out.
      As for reading outside, the kindle (original) and the kindle paperwhite are fabulous. I do a lot of beach-reading and there is no glare at all. The kindle fire sucks outside though, as do a lot of other readers with a “regular” screen.
      You should do a print copy for the omnibus edition, for sure. It’s kind of surprising (to me) how many people only buy paper books.

  4. Great post, Amelia! I feel the same way. I haven’t ordered paper copies of any of my books but when one comes out all I feel is anxiety about how it’s going to be received. Maybe it will get easier down the road and I’ll have a squee moment or two. =)

    • Oh yes, the anxiety… I worry about every little thing! It’s worse with every book – the more “serious” I take myself as an author the more I have to lose, I guess.
      Well, as long as it doesn’t stop us from writing or publishing I suppose it’s okay. 🙂

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