Category Archives: Book Printing

Printers and Publishers: What Their Graphic Designers Will and Won’t Do for You

Printers and publishers have a lot in common in terms of what their graphic designers will and won’t do. Today’s post will help you understand why.

Printers and Publishers: What Their Graphic Designers Will and Won't Do for You

Printers and Publishers: What Their Graphic Designers Will and Won’t Do for You

First and foremost, I’m referring to hybrid publishers as opposed to traditional (trade) publishers here. When traditional publishers purchase the rights to publish your manuscript, they are also buying full creative control of the book. That means they will make all the graphic design decisions on your behalf. You won’t have much say in anything. But in the self-publishing and hybrid publishing business models, you retain full copyright ownership of the book. As such, you also retain your creative control and must make all the design decisions for yourself. (You can learn more about today’s three primary book publishing methods by clicking here.)

Printers and Publishers Won’t Make Graphic Design Decisions on Your Behalf

Printers and Publishers Need to Know This

Printers and Publishers Need to Know This

Twice in the last nine years, I took on projects from authors who said they had no idea how they wanted their book covers to look. I pressed them for details with various leading questions. But they both insisted they didn’t know what they wanted. They asked me to have my graphic designer supply them with two sample layouts to choose from without providing any real instructions ahead of time. I cringed. I knew where this was headed. But I obliged and asked my designer to create two sample layouts based on the little information we had: the type of book, topic matter, and stated demographic.

In both cases, the designers did their best and came up with what I considered to be beautiful, professional designs. But, not surprisingly, both authors hated the sample layouts. “That’s not what I had in mind,” they both complained. It had been a giant waste of everyone’s time.

You see, even if you think you don’t know what you want, you still do to some degree. And this is important information to provide the graphic designers of both printers and publishers ahead of time.

When deciding how you would like your book’s cover and interior to appear, it’s best to browse a bookstore (whether in person or online) and view the many different examples there first. What designs, colours, and fonts draw your attention? Write down the book titles and author names, so you can use this as a handy visual reference when it comes time to provide a description to the graphic designer. This will help the process run much more smoothly for both of you.

You can download this book completely free of charge to obtain a check-list of the types of information graphic designers will need from you upfront. I highly recommend you read it.

Printers and Publishers Won’t Choose Graphics for You Free of Charge

Book Printing Tips

Book Printing Tips

If you want to include any illustrations, graphics, or images on your book cover—or in your book’s interior, for that matter—you must ensure you have the legal right to use them. There are three ways you can do this: one, you can use photos, illustrations, or graphics that you have personally created and therefore own the copyright to; two, you can purchase them from someone else; or three, you can find public domain stock photos that are deemed as “free for commercial use” and download those. Either way, it’s best if you to provide these files to printers and publishers ahead of time. Otherwise, you’ll spend a lot more money paying them to create or find these files on your behalf.

Click here for more information regarding where and how to find public domain stock photos for yourself. Always respect another artist’s copyright. If you don’t—if you just pull any image file you find off the Internet and use that for your book without first confirming you have the right to use it—you may find yourself involved in an expensive copyright infringement lawsuit down the road.

Printers and Publishers Won’t Choose Paper Stock for You Without Some Input

I fully understand the inclination of authors to say, “Just use the standard interior and cover stock,” when asked what type of paper they want used for their paperback or hardcover books. I get it. You’re thinking that printers and publishers are the experts, so they should know what you need in this regard. Here’s the problem with that: there is no one standard.

As you’re browsing through the bookstore to determine your design preferences, take note of all the different types of books in front of you. Notice how some books are thicker than others. Some covers are glossy and shiny; others are dull. Some interior pages are thin while others are thick. The colours vary. The sizes vary. Everything varies! (Choice is a wonderful thing. But it can also be a bit of a nightmare at times.)

When you’re browsing the bookstore, take note of the types of cover and interior paper stock that appeal to you most . Take photos of your preferences. Better yet, bring physical samples to show printers and publishers when it comes time to place your order with them.

Printers and Publishers Will Sit Down With You to Discuss All These Details and Make Recommendations

Here’s one more thing printers and publishers have in common: they want to make you happy. When you’re happy, they’re happy!

Once you’ve visited the bookstore and gotten an idea of what you’re looking for, your next best course of action is to book a graphic design meeting to discuss your findings. Ask questions, listen to the recommendations, then make your decisions from there.

Printers and publishers are here to help you create the best book possible. But they need you to help them help you by doing some homework ahead of time. Trust me, it will save you time and money in the long run.

Related reading: Preparing Your Digital Files for a Book Publisher

* * *   * * *   * * *

As a user of this website, you are authorized only to view, copy, print, and distribute the documents on this website so long as: one (1) the document is used for informational purposes only; and two (2) any copy of the document (or portion thereof) includes the following copyright notice: Copyright © 2018 Polished Publishing Group (PPG). All rights reserved.



Is Book Printing a Good Idea for Indie Authors?

Is book printing a good idea for indie authors? That’s a loaded question. There are many things to consider regarding cost, inventory, distribution, and even colour reproduction.

Is book printing a good idea for indie authors?

Is book printing a good idea for indie authors?

Book Printing Lessons Learned the Hard Way

If I knew eight years ago what I know today, I would have given very different advice to a high-profile author regarding her book printing options. At the time, I figured she was a certain best seller in Canada. Not only was she a prominent Canadian athlete, but she was regularly hosted by our national media to speak about her sport.

With guaranteed publicity exposure like that, I was confident she could easily print and sell 2,000 copies of her book. I even assumed she would sell them out so fast that she’d have to print another 2,000 within a few months. We mutually (naively) agreed to this large offset book printing option so she would pay a lower cost per unit. We figured she would save money in the long run. And she would ultimately earn a higher profit per unit on all the books she sold.

In hindsight, we should have had a more in-depth conversation—the discussion I now have with all my authors. Never again will I ever make book printing recommendations based on one’s professional status, popularity, media exposure, or assumed readership. Why? Because this author still has a garage full of books that she never did sell … a fact that bothers me every day. I wish I had done things differently for her. Below is a list of the questions I wish we had clearly answered before printing any books.

How will people know where to buy the books you’ve printed?

3 Book Printing Tips for Indie Authors

3 Book Printing Tips for Indie Authors

During my book publishing career, I’ve worked with two sports icons and other prominent business professionals on their book projects. I’ve learned that, many times, the most successful people are also the most humble people. They don’t boast about their accomplishments. In fact, they don’t enjoy talking about themselves at all. This makes selling books a real challenge. Because the only way to sell your books is to talk about them. And you cannot just mention, “Hey, I’ve written a new book,” and leave it at that. You must come right out and say, “I’ve written a new book, and here’s where you can buy a copy.”

You must ask for the sale in order to make the sale. Over and over and over again. Until all the books you’ve printed are sold.

This author rarely ever mentioned her book during all the media interviews she gave, never mind informing people they could buy copies directly from her. She had the book listed on her website, but she seldom mentioned her website address to the media. Perhaps she thought her website had a strong enough SEO that it would easily attract relevant traffic to her book. And perhaps she also thought, once that traffic arrived, book sales would automatically result.

Rarely does it ever work that way. No matter who you are, you must ask for the sale in order to make the sale. Or hire someone to do that for you.

Here’s the irony in all this: her book is a best seller on Amazon several times over. People went there to buy the digital print-on-demand paperback version of her book, but very few visited her website to buy it direct. So, this bestselling author still has several hundred printed books collecting dust in her garage.

How are you going to distribute the books you’re storing at your home?

When we decided to print her books, we knew she could easily store them in her garage for free. Storage was no problem for her at all. But we never discussed the logistics of actually distributing those books to the buyers who would later purchase them from her website, and this is a critical detail to think through.

Sure, you can expect to pay a lower cost per unit when you print books in bulk. But what is your cost for packaging and delivering each book down the road? Are your buyers able to pick up their books in person? Or can you deliver en masse in person (e.g., selling direct at the back of a conference room at speaking events)? If not, you’ll have to pay for packaging, delivery costs, and possibly even customs fees for buyers who are located outside your country. All these costs can add up and take a huge chunk out of your profits.

On the other hand, if you’re passing those costs onto your buyers, it may prevent them from purchasing from you at all. It might be easier for them to just order your book from ecommerce sites like Amazon that can offer them a much lower shipping rate than you can.

Will local bookstores inventory and sell your printed books for you?

Book Distribution Truths

Book Distribution Truths

No. They won’t.

For the authors who believe you’ll be able to print and sell direct to popular “bricks and mortar” book retailers, I highly recommend you download and read this additional FREE ebookWhy Traditional Bookstores Won’t Carry Your Book on Their Shelves … and Why That’s Okay. The truth is, if you want your book placed in a local bookstore’s inventory, you must play by the peculiar rules set by the traditional book supply chain. And, believe me, peculiar is the best word to describe these old rules … as I’m sure you’ll agree once you read the book.

As well, most “bricks and mortar” booksellers (e.g., Chapters Indigo, Barnes & Noble, Waterstones, and Blackwell’s, et cetera) and libraries will only purchase their books through established distributors such as Ingram Content Group. They simply won’t deal with individual authors on anything more than a per-event consignment basis.

3 Book Printing Tips for Indie Authors

The above questions are far from the only considerations you must make when deciding on your book printing options. In 3 Book Printing Tips for Indie Authors, I discuss many more.

There is much to think about, much to consider when it comes to book printing. For example, printers can be finicky machines at times. Have you ever wondered why, sometimes, a colour image looks different on your computer screen than it does in a printed document? This has much to do with the way the colour file was created by the designer as well as the type of paper it is being printed on and the type of printer being used. If colour precision is important to you, then you need a professional designer to help you design your book before you print it.

Before you engage in any type of book printing at all, be sure to read the above books and answer all these questions for yourself. It could save you a lot of time and money.

* * *     * * *     * * *

As a user of this website, you are authorized only to view, copy, print, and distribute the documents on this website so long as: one (1) the document is used for informational purposes only; and two (2) any copy of the document (or portion thereof) includes the following copyright notice: Copyright © 2018 Polished Publishing Group (PPG). All rights reserved.



3 Book Printing Tips for Indie Authors: Consider This Before Printing Any Books

NOW AVAILABLE through Amazon’s Kindle, Kobo, and E-Sentral! Order it today!

Whenever prospective clients contact my company for a book publishing quote, they invariably request a book printing quote to go along with it. I tell them that, to figure out your initial publishing costs—the professional editing, graphic design, proofreading, indexing, and administrative costs involved in publishing a book—a publisher will need to know five things:

  1. How many words are included both inside your book’s interior and on its cover?
  2. How many images/graphics are included both inside your book’s interior and on its cover?
  3. Will your book have a colour or black and white interior? (If colour, will it be a full bleed?)
  4. What trim size (e.g., 5 x 8″, 5.5 x 8.5″, 6 x 9″, 8.5 x 11″) do you want?
  5. What format (e.g., paperback, case-wrapped hardcover, dust-jacketed hardcover) do you want?

Figuring out your book printing costs is even more involved than that. It is only once your book is fully formatted and you know all the above information plus the page count of the final-designed book that you can officially request a book printing quote. (The page count of a final-designed book is almost always different from the page count of your initial manuscript.)

There is much to think about, much to consider when it comes to book printing. I also ask each author, “How many books are you thinking about printing, and have you considered how and where you’re going to sell them?” Some people are puzzled by that question, assuming the publisher will actively sell your books for you. I published this FREE ebook for these individuals a while ago: Your Ebook is an Asset … if You Own the Copyright. The moral of the story is there’s no point in printing any books at all unless you have a clear idea of how to distribute them—successfully. Otherwise, you’ll end up wasting a lot of money in book printing costs followed by even more in storage costs.

For the authors who believe you’ll be able to print and sell direct to popular “bricks and mortar” book retailers, I highly recommend you download and read this additional FREE ebook: Why Traditional Bookstores Won’t Carry Your Book on Their Shelves … and Why That’s Okay. The truth is, if you want your book placed on the physical shelves of a traditional bookstore, you must play by the peculiar rules set by the traditional book supply chain. And, believe me, peculiar is the best word to describe these old rules … as I’m sure you’ll agree once you read the book. As well, most “bricks and mortar” booksellers (e.g., Chapters Indigo, Barnes & Noble, Waterstones, and Blackwell’s, et cetera) and libraries will only purchase their books through established distributors. They simply won’t deal with individual authors.

Add to all this the fact that printers can be finicky machines at times. Have you ever wondered why, sometimes, a colour image looks different on your computer screen than it does in a printed document? This has much to do with the way the colour file was created by the designer as well as the type of paper it is being printed on and the type of printer being used.

There is MUCH to consider with book printing. Before you engage in any type of book printing at all, read this book! It could save you a lot of time and money down the road. For those who still wish to print their books, this guide will help you to produce the best book printing result possible.



Learn at Your Own Pace: Online Courses in Writing, Publishing, and Selling Books

Through Udemy‘s online learning portal, PPG can help you build on your book writing, publishing, and selling skills from the comfort of your home and at your own pace. Here are just three of the courses that can help you with every aspect of your next book project from start to finish:


ONLINE COURSE: Writing A Book: The First Draft


ONLINE COURSE: Writing With Flair: How To Become An Exceptional Writer


ONLINE COURSE: Self-Publishing Success in Bookstores and Online!

Check them out today. Just click on the above pictures to be redirected to the course landing page where you can enroll and start learning immediately. Good luck and enjoy.

* * *    * * *    * * *

As a user of this website, you are authorized only to view, copy, print, and distribute the documents on this website so long as: one (1) the document is used for informational purposes only; and two (2) any copy of the document (or portion thereof) includes the following copyright notice: Copyright © 2017 Polished Publishing Group (PPG). All rights reserved.



Let’s Start a Revolution to End Returnability!

Kim Staflund: founder and publisher at Polished Publishing Group (PPG) and author of the PPG Publisher’s Blog

Kim Staflund: founder and publisher at Polished Publishing Group (PPG) and author of the PPG Publisher’s Blog

Through this blog post, it is my goal to open up a sincere dialogue between everyone involved in the book supply chain from authors, agents, and publishers of all kinds (trade, vanity, hybrid … from the smallest independents to the corporate giants) to the printers, distributors, wholesalers, and retailers that help us create, move, and sell our books to the masses. I want to talk specifically about book returns.

SOMETHING’S GOT TO GIVE

One of the most costly and troublesome practices in the world of book publishing is an archaic book return policy that detrimentally affects net profits for both publishers and authors alike. When a publisher marks its books as “returnable” for wholesalers and retailers, it is giving them the right to return those books, at any given time, for a full refund if they’re unable to sell them—regardless of whether those books are stickered with price tags or a bit scuffed from being handled by various people. 

This practice has always bothered me, right back to the days when I worked for a small literary publisher in Canada over twenty years ago. I’ve never understood why things were (and still are) done this way, so I went in search of an answer and came across a well-researched book by John B. Thompson titled Merchants of Culture: The Publishing Business in the Twenty-First Century that provided an answer. Here is what John’s research found:

“The practice of allowing booksellers to return stock for full credit has a long history in Europe but was used rarely and half-heartedly by American publishers until the Great Depression of the 1930s, when publishers began experimenting seriously with returns policies as a way of stimulating sales and encouraging booksellers to increase stockholdings. In spring 1930, Putnam, Norton and Knopf all introduced schemes to allow booksellers to return stock for credit or exchange under certain conditions, and in 1932 Viking Press announced that orders for new books would be returnable for a credit of 90 per cent of the billed cost. …The practice of returns subsequently became a settled feature of the book trade and marks it out as somewhat unusual among retail sectors.

For decades, by continuing on with this practice, we’ve inadvertently trained the traditional wholesalers and retailers that they call the shots with regard to how (and at what price, in some instances) we should sell our books. As a result, it is next to impossible to convince any bookseller to carry even a small physical inventory of our books in their stores unless those books are marked as returnable and/or priced ridiculously low.




FEEDING “THE GODDAM BEAST”

To be blunt, I won’t play this game. I mark all of PPG’s authors’ books as non-returnable (my own included) to protect them from the crippling financial repercussions that are caused by returns; and, instead, I now teach authors how to sell audiobooks, ebooks, paperbacks, and even hardcover books online so they can better control their net profits. As I read more of Thompson’s book, my own views and policies in this regard were vindicated by the realization that other English language trade publishers, both large and small, in both the UK and the US, share my frustrations:

“…even if the book sells well, they are likely to be faced with high returns, at least 20 per cent, possibly as high as 50 per cent, which will be credited to the retailer and deducted from their receivables by their distributor, though they still have to pay the printer’s bills. ‘We call it “feeding the beast”. You have to feed the goddam beast and it just doesn’t work.’ As the returns come back they undo much of the gain they thought they had achieved with a book that seemed to be selling well… High returns are costly for publishers. Not only is a great deal of time and money wasted in packing up and shipping books that are never sold, and then packing up and returning them to the publisher’s warehouse, but printing books that are eventually pulped is wasteful and expensive, and the cost of writing off unsold stock goes directly to the publisher’s bottom line, depressing still further a profit margin already under pressure. …high returns which put downward pressure on margins is the price paid for adhering to this traditional distribution model. Improving supply chain capabilities and the ability to forecast consumer demand are important steps forward in the struggle to deal with the problem of returns, but they are really tinkering at the edges. ‘The physical side of the business is as broken and inefficient today as it was 15 years ago,’ commented one COO who joined a large house in the mid-1990s and has spent much of his time since then trying to deal with this problem. …there is much about this dynamic that could be regarded as illogical, irrational and inefficient, not to mention wasteful.” 

If so many publishers feel the same way as I do about this antiquated book return policy, then why are they still playing the game? Isn’t it time to stop?

THERE’S MORE TO DIGITIZATION THAN JUST EBOOKS

Booksellers, we as publishers and authors need you. And you need us, too. We’re all essential components of this evolving book supply chain that is increasingly influenced by digitization. Thompson discusses this in his book, as well:

“…the same trade house that had seen ebook sales grow by 50 per cent in 2007 now saw its ebook sales leap by 400 per cent in 2008. This was a sudden and dramatic change. … The upward surge in ebook sales both continued and accelerated throughout 2009 and 2010. …Will ebooks become 30 per cent, 50 per cent, even 90 per cent of publishers’ total sales in the next few years? The truth is, no one knows. Most people have an opinion but no one knows a thing. ‘I wish I could give you wisdom,’ said one CEO in 2011, speaking with unusual frankness, ‘but I have no idea. The consumer will act to define this – it won’t be defined by Amazon or Barnes & Noble or Apple or us…” 

It is possible that, one day, ebook sales will dominate over paperback and hardcover sales. But it is important to understand that “digitization” refers to much more than simply ebooks … and this will affect traditional wholesalers and retailers just as much as it affects publishers and authors.




The truth is, with the advent of short-run digital printing (SRDP) and print-on-demand (POD) technology, it is less and less necessary for publishers/self-publishers to print large runs of books or carry any physical inventory whatsoever. We can simply offer a link to the digital files of our paperbacks and hardcovers on various ecommerce sites around the world so that, when a consumer clicks on that link to purchase the book in whatever quantity, that triggers the site’s digital printer to print, bind, and ship that exact number of copies straight to the consumer’s designated ship-to address.

Times have definitely changed in the book business, and they continue to change at a rapid rate. Perhaps now is the time to start a revolution to end returnability once and for all by asking our traditional wholesalers and retailers to partner with us in different ways. Change your incentives! Adjust your current co-op programs to encourage consignment book signings and launches for authors inside your stores rather than using these programs for in-store placement of returnable books. Improve your ecommerce sites! Help us sell more of our books through your stores’ websites rather than forcing us to look for other online solutions due to unreasonable return policies. 

There are so many things we could do to help each other survive (preferably THRIVE!) in these turbulent times. Because, at the end of the day, the survival and future success of the traditional wholesalers and retailers depends as much upon us as we have always depended upon them. 

Related reading (even some traditional booksellers agree that “…Any rational business person looking at this practice would think the industry has gone mad.”): Quest for best seller means lots of returned books (2005)

Related reading: Why All Books Should Be Non-Returnable – By Angela Hoy (2005)

Related reading: Why All Books Should Be Non-Returnable – By Angela Hoy (2015)

Related reading: How to Price an Ebook

* * *   * * *   * * *

As a user of this website, you are authorized only to view, copy, print, and distribute the documents on this website so long as: one (1) the document is used for informational purposes only; and two (2) any copy of the document (or portion thereof) includes the following copyright notice: Copyright © 2016 Polished Publishing Group (PPG). All rights reserved.