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Printing Options for Your Self-Published Book

     So you've finished writing your manuscript. You've hired an editor to edit your book and a designer to create the cover and lay out your interior. Great. Now you're ready to print your book. There are two ways to have your book printed. Your choices are to have it printed conventionally or print on demand (POD).

I'll explain the differences and provide a price chart for two hypothetical books. But, before you can make your printing choice, you need to decide if you want someone to handle the printing process for you, or to deal directly with the printer.

General Contractor vs Self-Publishing Company or Vanity Press

You can act as a general contractor and work with a book printer directly to get the best prices, or you can work with a self-publishing company or vanity press to handle the printing for you. Since you're already working with a designer who will prepare print-ready files for you, I suggest consulting with your designer on getting a list of recommended printers, setting up your printing account and uploading your files.

If you work directly with the printer you'll save money on your printing costs because all self-publishing companies and vanity presses mark up the cost of printing by at least 15% or 20% or as much as 200%. This is how they make much of their profit.

You can have your designer send your book's high resolution PDF files directly to the same POD printer (Lightning Source, Inc.) that almost all self-publishing companies and vanity presses use and save hundreds or thousands of dollars.

If you work with a self-publishing company or vanity press, they usually have various service packages that may include designing the cover and interior, doing the editing and proofreading, getting your ISBN number, LCCN number, copyright registration and bar code, creating a website, providing marketing services and distribution, all for a portion of your book royalties AND a printing markup.

If you act as a general contractor you'll need to do these things yourself or hire people or companies to do most of these services, but you'll have more control over the quality and price.

I've put together an award-winning team of experts in all these areas who don't take a portion of your royalties. Once you've paid for the service, you're done paying. You work directly with the team member or company and not some overseas service agent.

If you act as a general contractor and work directly with your printer, you don't share any portion of your royalties with any company and you don't pay a markup on the printing cost. However, you still need to pay a trade discount (the percent you pay to the wholesaler and retailer) for retail sales of your book. You will also pay a fee or a percent to the distributor.

Conventional vs POD Printers

Let's compare what conventional and POD printers have in common. Both will have customer service reps who can help you set up your account and answer questions about their products and services: (ie: paper stock, bindings, finishes, turnaround, printing and shipping costs, etc.). You can find excellent and poor printing quality and customer service with either type of printer.

How are they different? Conventional printers print a minimum of 500 or 1000 books per one order. POD printers can print as few as one book per order. Conventional printers will have more options for paper stocks, inks, and offer features that POD printers don't (i.e.: special bindings, embossing, foiling, die cuts, specialty finishes).

The price for printing books conventionally will usually be lower because of the large quantity printed. However there is a sweet spot for soft cover books with lower page counts and B&W; interiors. (See Print Comparison Chart below).

Conventional printing usually takes around 5 weeks to turnaround a soft cover book, whereas POD printers can turn it around in 2 weeks. If you need to reorder books, POD printers can turn around a small quantity in 48 hours for a rush charge.

Distributors and Discount Rates

If you choose a conventional printer, you will need to hire a distributor sell your books in bookstores. If you choose POD, the self-publishing company or vanity press will provide distribution to for online sales and with Ingram or Baker and Taylor for brick-and-mortar bookstore sales.

There are only two POD printers you can work directly with that are tied into distribution channels: CreateSpace and Lightning Source.

CreateSpace is a self-publishing company owned by and has their own in-house book printing. They will take a 20% trade discount for book sales on CreateSpace, 40% for sales on and 60% for brick-and-mortar bookstores.

Lightning Source is a printer but not a publishing company. You can select a trade discount rate as low as 20% for sales. They recommend setting the discount between 20% to 55% for online sales, and 55% for brick-and- mortar bookstore sales. They work with Ingram and other distribution partners for book sales to brick-and-mortar bookstores.

If you hire a distributor or use a self-publishing company or vanity press, the trade discount rate may be as much as 50-60% for Amazon sales and 40% for brick-and-mortar bookstore sales.

Please note, many brick-and-mortar bookstores won't list your book if you don't have at least a 40% to 55% trade discount, however don't assume they will carry copies of your book in their stores even if you do set it that high. Most self published authors don't even bother with brick-and-mortar bookstore sales and just concentrate on building good online sales.

Printing Cost Comparisons

The printing price chart shown below is for two hypothetical books with soft and hard cover and two different page counts. The books have a 6 x 9 trim size with full color cover and B&W; interior. The hard cover has a dust jacket.

Printing Prices from Conventional and POD printers (price per book without delivery costs - conventional prices are based on 1000 copies)

Printer / Soft Cover-Conventional / Hard Cover-Conventional / Soft Cover-Digital / Hard Cover Digital

Bang Printing - 128 pages / 1.77 / 2.59 / 2.58 / 4.54

Bang Printing - 304 pages / 3.54 / 2.65 / 4.83 / 7.18

Friesens - 128 pages / 2.52 / 4.51 / N/A / N/A

Friesens - 304 pages / 3.73 / 5.69 / N/A / N/A

Book Surge/CreateSpace - 128 pages / N/A / N/A / 2.38 / N/A

Book Surge/CreateSpace - 304 pages / N/A / N/A / 4.49 / N/A

McNaughton and Gunn - 128 pages / 1.83 / 3.8 / N/A / N/A

McNaughton and Gunn - 304 pages / 2.81 / 5.69 / N/A / N/A

Frederick Printing - 128 pages / N/A / N/A / 3.2 / N/A

Frederick Printing - 304 pages / N/A / N/A / 7.6 / N/A

Lightning Source - 128 pages / N/A / N/A / 2.82 / 9.47

Lightning Source - 304 pages / N/A / N/A / 5.46 / 12.11

(Prices subject to change).

Article Source:

Karen Saunders is the owner of MacGraphics Services, a unique graphic design firm for today's entrepreneur. Karen and her team of award winning designers help authors and small business owners design their books, build their brand, and market their business. Download a free Book Media Checklist and a free eCourse on How to Create a Best-selling Book Design from the Inside Out:

Posted on 2012-09-07, By: *

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Note: The content of this article solely conveys the opinion of its author.

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