Tag Archives: blogging

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.










Filed under Book Printing, Self Publishing Author

Social Media – Not So Scary

Who would have thought that we would be able to video chat with friends across the world, become an instant celebrity through a YouTube video or broadcast our every thought and action to hundreds of friends online?  I know that was pretty cheesy – but I am talking about social media here folks.

In a recent post, I talked about how the last thing I really want to do with any free time (which there is none with a job, kids and now this book) is be on the computer engaging in social media.  Well, here is a breakdown of what I have done so far.  I am in no means calling myself an expert in social media because there are many gurus out there that can help develop many levels of social media for you.  The purpose of this is to talk about how a newbie like me gets connected.  Many of my authors have asked how to take the first steps so here goes:

WORDPRESS – First things first, if you are going to do any kind of social media you have to send them somewhere.  You need a home base.  This is what Word Press can do for you.  Easily create a simple or not so simple website and blog.  I have only 4 pages now and may add more in the future.  The most important to me was a home page (to introduce the project/book), a blog page, a contact page and a ‘buy my book’ page.  Word Press is free but you can upgrade for $18/year to have your own url otherwise it will contain’ Word Press’ in it.  For instance, my website is at www.realanswersrealauthors.com instead of www.realanswersrealauthors.wordpress.com.  I thought this was worth the money.  Word Press has a pretty extensive dashboard and lots of customizing you can do.  It is helpful with many links to guide you through setup.  Just try not to get overwhelmed.  Take a couple of days and just click through and see what everything does.  You don’t have to figure it all out day 1.

FACEBOOK – I assume this is the most common and widely used platform.  Everyone you know probably has a Facebook page – which you can now use to your advantage.  I started a page for my book and put the cover image as my profile pic.  I started to look into various groups that related to my book.  I found many author and book promotion groups.  I asked to join these groups.  Once you are a member, you can look to the right on their page and see ‘related groups’.  I then went through all related groups in each group that I was a member.  This really helped to open up my FB world.  Once I joined these groups, I started to get friend requests from authors and sought out friends who were authors.  This is how social media can snowball for you.  I would suggest seeking out groups that have a common interest with your book.  When I posted a blog, I was sure to share it on my Facebook page and also post it on various group pages that related to the particular topic.

TWITTER – I had always refused to join twitter and when I say the word ‘tweet’ – I want to kick my own a** but I guess I had to do it.  I signed up for twitter.  Basically what I do here is share my blog links when I post something.  I have also been trying to tweet (there I go again) every day.  I just take excerpts from my book and post.  The important thing with this and most social media outlets is that you want to have quality content to get quality followers.  If you don’t care then you will end up with a bunch of crap.  If you work hard and spend the time, just do it right.   Because of this, I get a steady stream of people following me.  I don’t have very many but get a few a week and I am okay with that for now.

LINKEDIN – This is more of a professional networking tool, so you should keep it that way.  No embarrassing photos or posts on what you had for breakfast.  This will turn people off.  I was not very good at keeping up with my account so when I logged in, I had about 90 invitations waiting.  Once I accepted the invites then LI asked me about all of these other people I may know.  They also have a nice feature for updating your profile as well.  It will ask if you want to update your profile info and then you will answer a series of questions – quick and easy.  LinkedIn is also a place where I will post my blogs or update on any work type activities like if Mira Publishing added a new product or if we have a print sale happening that month.

REDDIT, STUMBLE UPON, DIGG, TUMBLR and PINTEREST – These are additional social media platforms that all do about the same thing.  They are resources for information basically.  I opened an account for each of these sites and just post my blog.  I do not know all the ends and outs of each one but will be researching a bit more.   I have seen hits on my blog from each site once I post so I think it is definitely worth looking into.

Word Press is great because if you setup their ‘Publicize’ feature it will automatically post your blog in the various outlets for you.   I also think it is important to be consistent so keep the same profile pic and same color scheme throughout all your social media accounts.  This will help others to relate to you and will be more familiar with your ‘brand’.

Also, something big with social media is seeking out information from others that relate to your book/topic and engage on their posts or follow them.  This will help others to come around to you.  It is not just about you sending info out to everyone and expecting them to read what you have to say –  but you have to do the same and read and comment on others as well.  This, I find the most time consuming but necessary.

That is about all I have on social media.  I know there is much more that can be done but this is a good stepping stone.  I started my social media about 8 weeks prior to my book launch and will continue building through the months and years.  It takes patience and time so be prepared.

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 post will be about printing and getting quotes.

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.





Filed under Book Marketing, Self Publishing Author