Monday, July 27, 2015

How to be an Indie Author 6: Publishing Print

This is the sixth post in a series about self-publishing from ideation through sales. To check out other posts in this series, click here.

Last time I covered a lot of ground when discussing digital publishing. This time I'm going to explain a few of the differences that you need to consider when publishing for print a.k.a. print-on-demand a.k.a. POD.

Nuts and Bolts

The biggest thing at issue here is formatting your manuscript. As I mentioned in the formatting post, that will make or break you. For POD, it takes me at least two days when using a template. Assuming you've done the hard work of formatting your manuscript (and I really recommend using a template, typically provided by the POD printer/distributor) there are a few other concerns that make the POD process distinct from digital publication:
  1. Book type and
  2. Distribution channels

Book Type

I'm using "book type" as a shorthand for page size and binding type. No doubt you own a few different sized books. Some genres tend towards larger sizes, where others tend to be smaller. Some make sense with a spiral binding, where others really need a traditional spine. Think about the genre of your book and typical sizes/binding types. Whatever is normal for your book's genre is what you want for your book.

The book size and binding type will dictate the manuscript template you need. They must match. If you got the wrong size or weren't thinking about things, you're going to need to reformat. Suck, I know, but necessary.

This will also dictate the kind of cover you need to have. Some POD printer/distributors (like the one I use, CreateSpace) have cover creation applications on their sites where you can plug in high res pictures and some text without too much hassle. If you want to have a custom cover, they often have templates you can use to make and upload your own. Typically I do a hybrid version where I have a full cover image and then the spine and back are "plug and play."


After you've got your ISBN, your cover is made, your files are free from errors, you finally get to proof your book. Sometimes this means you have to purchase an author proof. Sometimes it means you get to view the book for free digitally. Whatever the case, you make your choice and the book gets proofed. Now you're ready to publish the book which means several things:

  1. Selecting categories (should be the same as you had for your digital version)
  2. Setting price (should be high enough that you make royalties but low enough that readers will buy it)
  3. Selecting distribution channels (so the most readers can access your book)
Categories and pricing are important when considering distribution. You want people to be able to find your work. The more websites that sell it, the more libraries that carry it, the better. At the very least, it needs to be on Amazon because of the wide reach of the site. CreateSpace is an Amazon company, so when I publish my books, I get both a CreateSpace store (where I get maximum royalties) and my book gets added to the Amazon market quickly. I also have expanded distribution options where libraries and booksellers can purchase copies of my books.

Now, I should explain why I chose CreateSpace. I wanted something easy that didn't have any upfront costs. I liked that I had an ISBN that didn't require extra fees and I didn't have to order a hundred copies of my book when I didn't know how many people would be purchasing it. Anyone can go to my CreateSpace store and buy a copy of THRIVE: HOW I BECAME A SUPERHERO, for example, and the book gets printed immediately for them. That is the beauty of POD.

There are a lot of other POD printer/distributors and authors have a variety of reasons for choosing those companies. In fact, some small presses use them because the cost is so much less than ordering 1000 copies of a book. It honestly doesn't matter which ones you choose, as long as they connect with major channels and have the features that work best for your goals and situation. Ultimately that is joy of being an indie author - one size doesn't fit all.

Publish the way that works best for you, because that is what will give you the greatest fulfillment and the highest probability of success.
Leave a comment below to share your thoughts on the POD process as well as any tips and tricks you've picked up on the way!

Also check out my next post in this series where I will begin discussing the marketing and sales process. 

Visit my website to donate, become a patron, or buy my books! I recently made some serious updates to the site and I'd love your thoughts. Be sure to check out my updated Amazon Author Page. You can get all the fiction there as well as THRIVE and TRANSFORM TO THRIVE, my tweets, and more! 

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