Print on demand, where your book is only printed once someone places an order, is crucial to the success of your author business. Here’s why.
Most POD publishing companies are very prompt when printing and sending each copy. CreateSpace and Kindle Direct Publishing, for example, can usually have a single copy printed and on its way within three days. And because they have corporate buying power, they can have very low-cost deals with postal services and couriers.
Print on demand means that if you notice some typos after your book is for sale, you can simply fix them, re-upload the file, and no one knows the difference. No grit-your-teeth-and-smile-anyway as you try to sell all the backlog copies that you KNOW have some errors. No one need ever know, and pretty much the moment you have an updated file, THAT’s the version new buyers will access. (Not counting the time it takes for technical review, of course.)
If you want to sell your book in stores, you still can. You don’t need a traditional publishing house in your corner. And you don’t need to do an offset print run. Some POD distributors of indie author books, like IngramSpark, list your book in catalogues that bookstores and their customers access for making purchasing decisions. You don’t have to hawk your book to stores yourself. You can, but you don’t have to.
When you DO want to have a trunk full of your books, it may be that print on demand is not the best solution. Many indie authors look for local printers that can get them a better deal – minus shipping costs – on a higher print run. If you’re off to a book signing, or a speaking engagement, you can make a better profit from copies you sell face-to-face. Personally, I try to keep up to a dozen copies of my book at home. When I meet someone who asks about it, I can provide a copy quickly – before they forget to order!
You can’t sign copies ordered online or sold in bookstores. You can sign only the ones you have in your personal stock. In my case, I worked out how many people I thought should have complimentary copies, bought those at low cost, signed then, and shipped them myself. It was time consuming, but worth it to offer a more personal touch to important supporters. I also sign any stock copies I keep on hand.
With self-publishing print on demand, you will organize all the editing, proofreading, and formatting for your book. All of it. Many authors choose to work with someone who has both experience and expertise in this area (ahem, like Ingenium Books). Regardless, you must upload a fully formatted master file that the POD publisher will use to generate the physical copies. Most POD companies will provide online guidance as you get close to publishing, but everything about the document must be exactly right, from proofreading to page numbering to page margins. Be aware that, depending on the platform you choose for your formatting, you may need to format a master document at least twice – one for printed copies and one for ebooks. Personally, I used MS Word and had to format three times. The third was for Kobo, the electronic reader. Kobo converts an uploaded master document to its own format – and it changed a LOT. I had to check my entire book again in Kobo’s system before releasing it.
Some print on demand publishers charge a setup fee, annual fee, or both. Some have packages you have to buy. Read the terms and conditions carefully before you choose which service is right for you. Know exactly what you’re getting into.
Companies like Amazon’s CreateSpace (part of Amazon and still operating, but phasing out soon in favour of Amazon’s Kindle Direct Publishing) and Amazon use POD as a key pillar in their business strategy. They also offer some assistance if you need help converting your manuscript to ebook format, for example. If you don’t already have a professional cover designed, they also offer book cover templates. Services like IngramSpark require your completed files, and don’t really offer any conversion or design services.
John is a writer/editor, content marketing manager, singing coach and author of Let It Out, a handbook for vocalists. He has also launched a website to help others suffering with depression: www.depression-survivor.com. Aside from his lovely wife and children, there is nothing John loves more than turning a phrase until it catches the light.
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