POD and Offset Printing
You've written your book and you've hired a top-flight design team to dress it up to look and read like the very best in publishing. But how do you get it printed? How do you get it out into the world where people can find it?
Longfeather Book Design will help you figure out what avenue suits your book and your situation best. If you're worried about having to deal with printers, file formats, ftp's and industry jargon—all the stuff that can be intimidating—there is no reason to be because we are here to help you and will always be your liaison to the printing and publishing world.
Although there are many different ways to publish a book, here are some of our recommendations:
Print-on-demand requires a minimal initial investment and frees you from having to warehouse and ship your books. They do this by printing the books one-at-a-time as orders are placed and then shipping them to the buyer, typically the very same day.
If you'd like an all-in-one simple solution CreateSpace (a subsidiary of Amazon) is a wonderful way to go. So far we've had great experiences with CreateSpace's printing and distribution model. By signing up for their Advantage program ($39 initially and then $5 a year for each title) you can significantly increase your profit margin per book and Create Space will take care of most (but not all) of the setting up to sell on Amazon.com.
- An free ISBN (but is non-transferrable to any editions printed outside of Create Space). You can also pay extra for several different levels of ISBN via CreateSpace, or purchase your own independent ISBN directly through Bowker/My Identifiers.
- The ability to inexpensively make corrections on your proof (an actual copy of your book for you to approve or reject) and re-upload your file (which we take care of for you) until everything is perfect (it costs you your author discounted price for each proof, plus shipping).
- Automatic page and product set-up at Amazon.com including the Look Inside program.
If you're happy selling your book strictly through Amazon and ordering copies with your author discount to sell yourself then this is an ideal solution that's relatively quick to implement (after we're done with the design work it usually it takes just a couple weeks to get everything set-up and ready to publish).
The drawbacks to CreateSpace can be significant for self-publishers who want to distribution of their book outside of Amazon though. Even with the "Extended Distribution" that Create Space offers your profit margin essentially disappears when you sell outside of Amazon, usually about 60% of the selling price to go on top of Create Space's and Amazon's cut. That can leave you with chump change when it's all sold and done. If this arrangement doesn't work for you we recommend Lightning Source.
For the full scoop on dealing with Create Space and Amazon we recommend (but certainly don't require you to buy) the book "POD for Profit" by Aaron Shepard. Some of the info has become a little dated, and we disagree with some of his ideas about cover design, but so far we haven't found any other book that explains all the nitty-gritty details like Aaron's book does. In this regard it is a very valuable reference book to have.
If you're interested in more control of your book, bigger profit margins, and a more diverse distribution then it's hard to beat Lightning Source. The reason is simple, if you sign up with Lightning Source they consider you a Publisher with a capitol "P" and as a Publisher you can set your own percentage to be paid to distributers and booksellers. This can be anywhere from 70% to 20%. So you can pick 20%, cut out some of the middle men, and put a lot more money in your own pocket. Unfortuneately this can also have a chilling effect on any “brick-and-mortar” book store from wanting to carry your book. However, this issue may not be a factor in your publishing plan, because most brick-and-mortar stores pay no attention to self-published books anyway, unless you contact and ship to them directly, at which point you can negotiate a percentage that is customized for that store.
LightningSource then makes your printed book (also eBook distribution if you're publishing in that format) available through a very extensive distribution network (including Amazon), and your profit margin is the same no matter which distribution channel your book travels through. Please be aware though, there is extra time and setup on your part to get it coordinated with Amazon and also if you'd like to sell in countries other than the United States.
But with greater profits and distribution comes greater responsibility. Lightning Source is a lot less friendly and to a novice publisher and is a much more involved and time-consuming process. Because you've entered into a relationship with Lightning Source as a Publisher they figure you know what you're doing and so offer very minimal help (although it is there). But just as with CreateSpace, or any other publication method you choose, Longfeather Book Design will help you with the whole process. We don't just design your book and leave you in the cold, we are your liaison to getting your book produced and into the hands of your readers.
But there's a lot of details that you should be prepared to deal with, for example, first you have to get set up as a publisher in their system and there's some paperwork involved. You then have to purchase and supply them with your own ISBN ($125 for one, or sold in sets of 10 for $250, from Bowker/My Identifiers). Proofs are more expensive than at CreateSpace and revisions to the initial proof, even tiny ones, are also relatively more expensive than at Create Space. The cost for this is approximately $45 for interior and $45 for cover revisions ($90 if you revise both). So you it really pays to have your proofing/editing done thoroughly before we upload files to Lightning Source or it can get expensive.
We can help you with all of these details, but for a great overview of the whole process with Lightning Source and POD in general we highly recommend another of Aaron Shepard's books, “POD for Profit.” as mentioned above in the notes about CreateSpace. He outlines and details a lot of time and money saving information that would be difficult for us to list here and besides he says it much better than we can. Maybe because he's an author and we're from the visual realm of design. By the way, we have no affiliation with Aaron other than to appreciate his wisdom in regards to educating self-publishers with down-to-earth wisdom in a field that can, quite frankly, be over-hyped.
We can also help you set up with any other POD company or printer.
Advantages of Print-On-Demand
- Low initial investment.
- No warehousing of books.
- Easy distribution (no taking orders yourself or shipping them).
Disadvantages of Print-On-Demand
- Slightly higher cost per book than traditional press printing.
- Limited printing options, particularly in regards to cover texture (high gloss only).
Offset printing (traditional)
If you want to be your own distributer (you can sell through your own website, trade shows and even Amazon as a bookseller) and want more variety in cover texture, types of paper, and a lower cost per book then traditional offset printing is the way to go. We love a superbly printed book with a satin cover that makes for a sublimely tactile reading experience. We have printers we can recommend or you can use one of your choosing. In either case we will assist you through the entire process if you need it and will work directly with the printer by preparing all files to their specifications and as advisors to you in anything that comes up during the process.
Advantages to offset printing
- Lower per book cost.
- More options in regards to paper and cover finish.
Disadvantages to offset printing
- To make it worthwhile you usually have to order upwards of a thousand books (and then you have to store them).
- You're paying to ship them twice (first to you in bulk and then to ship them out to your customers—unless you sell them locally).
- You are the distributor of your book and have to handle taking orders and shipping and in-state tax collecting.
eBooks: Kindle, EPUB and tablets
If we designed your book for print we can also design and convert it into an electronic format.
The advent of electronic books is so new that it's barely out of the “wild west” stages of its evolution but the brawl starting to settle down as several formats have become standards. eBooks now outsell printed books and it's a marketing opportunity for your book that should not be ignored.
The above info is a very general overview but we can assist you in figuring out what might be the best path or multiple paths for your book's publication. If you have any questions or comments please contact us.