The answer to this depends on whether you have managed to land one of the big five traditional publishers. If you are working with one of these, they have the keys to possibly making money on print books.
Nobody else does. Not you, not your small press publisher. The reason is that you will have to hand-sell each print book. The high cost of printing your book POD keeps you out of the bookstore system, whether or not you are self published. (See last week’s post.)
If you are an indie author or are published by a small press, you’re going to make your money on your ebook, not your print book. Oh, you can sit with print copies at craft fairs and at book signing tables and sell some, but typically you aren’t going to make much money at that unless you are a super sales person.
Here’s how you build sales on the ebook: you find people willing to read your book, get them to review it online and tell their friends, and repeat. Build sales through price promotions. Write more books. Keep plugging away. Work together with other authors in your genre to share fans. Normally your sales will be higher after one year than after one month.
It’s a long game, not a short game like the Big Five publishers’ way of selling. The Big Five print cheaply and in bulk, distribute to bookstores for a few golden weeks, (sometimes) promote like crazy, and then it’s over. If you made it big, great. If not so big, they aren’t likely to want to publish you again. They’re looking for big sellers to pay for their operations. One in a lineup of ten books pays for the other nine, I’ve heard tell.
You, on the other hand, might be willing to settle for long-term steady sales that may gradually gain momentum. What helps tremendously: writing a series of as many as nine books, or more, and making the first one free. Be sure your covers are terrific. Also, keep cranking out books. The more you have, the more the fans notice you. This is the ebook market, as it is now.