Category Archives: Book Printing

Working with a Printer can Suck

Yes, I work with a printing/publishing company and have for 7 or so years.  I think of all my blogs, this one I can really give my two cents on and feel more like the ‘expert’.  However, I can still empathize for my authors because printers can be tough and very hard to understand.  I get it ….and hopefully you will too once you read my blog.

The very first thing(s) you need to decide are the following:

  1. Budget – how much money do you have to spend and have you really thought about all the expenses (setup, editing, proofing, printing, shipping, marketing materials….)?
  2. Commitment – is this something that you want as a side gig to show a few friends or do you plan to hit it pretty hard with signings, speaking engagements, marketing, etc?
  3. Expertise – how much do you really know about marketing your book?
  4. Motivation – have you had your towels in the washer for 4 days now?

There are different types of printers as well and they all serve different purposes:

  1. POD – This stands for print on demand.  Digital printing equipment is used.  Digital printers are just fancy copiers with way more bells and whistles.   It is awesome that people can print just one book at a time these days – who would of thought.  POD printers are normally all online.  You do not usually get to speak to a live person.  They can often be higher in price and there can be limitations on what you can do.  You will get super frustrated with POD if you are unfamiliar with getting files ready to print and if you are not too computer savvy.  POD is great if you are the type of person who gets things done at 3am and you know what you are doing.
  2. Short Run Digital Printing – POD also uses digital printing equipment but there are companies that specialize in more of the ‘short run’ digital printing.  These are the mid-level market guys and are perfect for first time authors.   Short Run Digital Printers require a minimum order of books like 25 or 50 and will print up to 500 efficiently.  They can usually give you a better price per book since you are ordering more than 1 at a time.  You will have a more personal connection to the company.  They will review the files and come back to you when there are issues and some setup is required.
  3. Offset/Traditional Publishing – this type of printing is only efficient for runs of 1000+ typically.  This is the old timey method where plates are made and the plates ‘stamp’ the paper.  Offset printers use ink.  Digital printers use toner.  Most people don’t care about this but some do.  The presses take time to setup which is why it does not make sense to do a short run.   You will still get a personal connection with the company.  You will receive a much lower cost per book.   They will also review your files and come back with any issues, etc.  This is what authors will graduate too once they are successful in marketing their book.  Just be sure and have space for storage.  A good space that is BIG and not damp or humid – 1000 books can be like 30-40 boxes.  That’s a lot of boxes.

So once you have decided on the above you want to start connecting with that type of printer for estimates.  Printing companies can be intimidating because we have our own language.  We start to throw terms out to you like perfect binding, duplex, trim size, bleed and you start to feel dizzy and want to hang up.  Personally, I can tell instantly if an author is new to the process by the first things they ask or say.  That helps me to steer the conversation in the right direction.  It will be important to connect to the sales person or printer so you fully understand what you are buying and they fully understand your expectations.  This can be difficult.  I would suggest the following:

  1. Review or google print terms you do not understand.  I have put together a list here: Printionary.
  2. Send or give the printer a physical sample of what you want.  This could be on paper type, a design, layout or binding style.
  3. Talk to more than one printer.
  4. Talk to other authors on their experiences.

When I gather information from an author to get an accurate quote, these are the specs I would ask for:

  1. Title of Book:
  2. Quantity to print:
  3. Trim size (height and width of finished book):
  4. Number of pages:
  5. Is the interior b/w or color:
  6. Any paper preference or standard:
  7. Binding style (click here for sample images)
  8. Will you require an ISBN or barcode:
  9. Do you need layout or formatting:

From this information, I can get the most accurate proposal together.  When you go to several printers for estimates, be sure and have the same specs quoted so you can compare apples to apples.  Granted, I do not believe that the lowest price is the best option.   When you buy cheap – you usually get cheap. There are many other things to consider like customer service, turnaround time, additional services available, location etc.

90% of files are sent incorrectly!  Ask the printer how they need files setup to print and what their process is.  Every printer should give you some guidelines on this.  I have attached a sample here: MIRA Preparing Files.   Authors often get annoyed when printers come back with issues and need to have them fixed or charge a small fee.  Unfortunately someone has to do the work and if they are on payroll – we have to charge the customer.   It can get rather expensive to make a lot of changes and send new files throughout the proofing stages.  All files have to be setup a certain way so to avoid extra charges – make sure you are at a stopping point.  The good thing about digital is you can print a small amount, find mistakes and correct them, and then print another small amount.

I hope that you have learned a bit about the ‘Other Side’.  Printers are not so bad I guess.  Check out my previous blogs on prelaunch marketing, cover/manuscript setup and social media.  If you are not following, just click the follow button on the right hand side to be emailed when new blogs are posted.

As always, I appreciate any comments, suggestions or feedback. If you have a blog topic you want me to cover – send it over.

…and in case I don’t see ya, good afternoon, good evening, and good night.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

7 Comments

Filed under Book Printing, Self Publishing Author

Copyright – Do I or Don’t I?

I received the online proof for my book today so I thought now would be a good time to get my copyright. I strongly urge all the authors I work with to copyright their work. Technically, when you put an original thought down on paper, you own it. But what if someone steals something you did? You have nothing to back it up – which is exactly why it needs to be documented beforehand. The copyright document will hold up in court if it ever came to that.

It is a good idea to get a new copyright every time you make significant changes or maybe a second edition. You can get a copyright at anytime and it is fairly easy so there really is no excuse. Of course, if you change a typo or two – it may not be necessary then. It costs $35 every time you do it online. It is more costly and very slow to mail it in.

I went to http://www.copyright.gov and did it in about 30 min. Granted, I tend to graze pages quickly and only read a portion of what I am supposed too. I guess that is what comes from living in such a fast paced society these days. With that said, you will notice that it is a govt website because it is boring, not very advanced and not pretty at all. I went through a series of pages where I seemed to enter the same thing over and over. Maybe I’m an internet snob but I like auto fills and big ‘click here’ buttons. They did have a nice (very long) pdf tutorial on every step which I have available here: eco-tutorial

Once I went through the process of all the info, I had to pay the $35. Once I paid the money, they had me upload the files. I uploaded and expected a ‘yay congrats on uploading the files’ but nothing. So I waited and then went and watched an episode of Mad Men and then came back and had an email that they had uploaded. The email just said thank you for submitting – w/o any timeline as to when I will receive the certificate in the mail. I will be sure and keep everyone posted on that. If you have not already copyrighted your work – go and do it now. I will wait…….….no, j/k – but seriously go and do it asap!

Now, for a Library of Congress #. Can someone tell me why I would want to do this? It seems very old school to get an LOC. Maybe it is just for the recognition or status perhaps? Any help would be awesome. I will be looking into this as well but interested to know what you all think.

Check out my previous blogs on prelaunch marketing and cover/manuscript setup. If you are not following, just click the follow button on the right hand side to be emailed when new blogs are posted. My next ones will be a biggie on social media, yikes.

As always, I appreciate any comments, suggestions or feedback. If you have a blog topic you want me to cover – send it over.

…and in case I don’t see ya, good afternoon, good evening, and good night.

2 Comments

Filed under Book Printing, Self Publishing Author

ISBN# and Barcodes – Never pay for a barcode again!

I guess I have to blog about boring stuff like ISBN#’s and Barcodes too. They are not nearly as fun to talk about as cover design and marketing – but I got to do it. Most people will need to buy an ISBN # for their book. I say ‘most’ because I have seen people who only want to print 25 books for a family reunion or something and I don’t think it is necessary in that situation. Some people may disagree. If you want to sell your book in a retail setting, you definitely need an ISBN. Most places will not accept your book w/o one and it will look unprofessional.

Bowker is the US ISBN agency. They are the source for ISBNs. You can purchase the # at www.bowker.com. Just go to Products and Services/Identifier Services/ISBN. You can buy one for $125 or a lot of 10 for $250. If you do more books, it makes sense to invest in the 10. It is super important to have a different number for each format too. So if you have an eBook, a printed soft cover and a hard cover – that would require 3 ISBNs.

An ISBN is a 10 and 13 digit number for your unique book. The reason it is so important is because this is how your book is cataloged in the thousands and thousands of books out there. Once you purchase the ISBN#, you will need to register it correctly. When Mira Publishing provides ISBNs to authors, we have asked for a form like this (ISBN Registration Form) to be filled out. The registration is essential because it places you properly in www.booksinprint.com. This is a database of all books – where libraries, publishers, bookstores, etc will go to search the marketplace for titles. You want to make sure you are on there and that your book is registered properly. Be sure to register each # for each format – eBook and print. You will also need an ISBN for other products such as audio books, DVD, CD, etc.

Bowker seems to have jumped on this author services bandwagon like every other Joe on the street. I noticed a service for submitting your manuscript to publishers for $99. I have seen services like this numerous times and I think they are bogus. I don’t have the money (like most new authors) to try every single one of these services from various publishers/printers so I guess you have to decide if it is worth it yourself. If you find one that works, definitely let me know! In my opinion, once they have your money they don’t give a crap. You have to consider the return on your investment too. ROI is a real thing and now that your book is your business, then you have to consider – If you spend $400 on some product to get exposure or whatever then how many books do you have to sell to break even at best? After printing cost, editing, and the service fee – maybe you have to sell 150 books. Well, that doesn’t sound very appealing to me. We will talk more about this with marketing blogs but cannot stress enough good old fashioned grass roots.

Anyway, so on to barcodes. The barcode is generated from your ISBN#. When you have your book in a store, they will scan this barcode and it will keep track of inventory and sales. You can also put a price in the barcode if you wish – some people leave price blank if they are unsure. The barcode needs placed on your back cover. The proper size of a barcode at 100% is 1.469” wide x 1.02” high. This can fluctuate a little smaller or larger if needed. The proper placement of the barcode would be 3/8” from the bottom and 3/8” from the spine. This is recommended but not mandatory. In the self publishing world – I have seen barcodes all over the place and every size. Being a self-publisher, you can really do whatever you want with your book. If you want to appear more professional though, I say stick to what is recommended.

Barcodes usually cost about $25. This is my gift to you for reading this whole boring blog on ISBN#’s and barcodes. Never pay for a barcode again! Here is a super easy link to get a barcode yourself online: http://bookcovers.creativindie.com/free-online-isbn-barcode-generator/. All you do is put your ISBN# in and a price (if desired) and BAM – you got yourself a barcode. They will ask if you want a pdf or an .eps file. You can send this barcode file directly to your printer and they can place on book cover – usually for no charge. Be sure to scan and test barcode before printing!

Check out my previous blogs on cover and manuscript setup. If you are not following, just click the follow button on the right hand side to be emailed when new blogs are posted. My next ones will be about social media and getting your copyright.

As always, I appreciate any comments, suggestions or feedback. If you have a blog topic you want me to cover – send it over.

…and in case I don’t see ya, good afternoon, good evening, and good night.

19 Comments

Filed under Book Printing, Self Publishing Author