When I decided to publish my second parenting book in colour I knew that the colour printing costs with CreateSpace were extortionate. The same applies to Lulu. This basically relates to the fact that they charge for full colour even if only a small proportion of the book is in colour. So, that was the easy alternatives out of my reach. I therefore started to do some digging around in order to find more cost-effective solutions. I knew from reading Joanne Phillip’s marvellously informative blog (http://joannegphillips.wordpress.com/) that she had used various printing options so I asked her for some advice which she was more than happy to give – thanks again Joanne.
Becoming your own Publisher
Basically, because I had applied for my own ISBN numbers the first time round I was effectively acting as my own publisher. This meant that there were less restrictions and I could go direct to a printer. Lightning Source (LSI) are a good option in the UK because they will list your book with Amazon, Gardners wholesalers etc. for a fee of just £8.40 a year. However, it is possible to get your book listed yourself. To do so you have to register as the publisher with Nielsen’s PubWeb service.
I had listed my previous book on Nielsen’s BookNet so that I could receive any orders that came from wholesalers but I didn’t realise that I needed to register with PubWeb too. The link to PubWeb is http://www.nielsenbookdata.com/pubweb. If you click the ‘Not a registered user?’ link you will go through to a screen where there is a further link to a downloadable registration form. Once you have registered you can add your books and make updates to them such as adding the cover images etc. For BookNet the link is http://www.nielsenbooknet.co.uk. Select the Publishers & Distributors option from the menu and there are links further down the page for smaller self-distributing publishers. Self-distributing basically means that you hold your own stocks.
Once you have listed your book with PubWeb there is a good chance that booksellers will pick up your book details from the PubWeb records and list them on their own records. The PubWeb website warns you that it can take up to twenty weeks for this to happen but I found that the print version of my book was listed in the Amazon store within a week and with Waterstones online shortly after. One of my next tasks is to register as an Amazon seller so that I can receive orders directly from Amazon once the print version is available.
Joanne also kindly recommended a UK-based printer that would print in colour at reasonable cost. However, I also decided to shop around for others. There are now many printers offering a print on demand service for books and some will allow you to obtain an on-screen estimate. Just try entering ‘Book Printers UK’ into Google to see a good selection. I’m not sure what the position is in other countries but I have a feeling it will be similar because printers will want to cater to the demand prompted by the ‘Indie revolution’. As with CreateSpace, the charges per book usually become lower as the size of your order increases. Additionally, because I could obtain online quotes this enabled me to narrow down my options for orders of different sizes before making further enquiries.
One of the advantages of having a printer in your country of residence is that the staff are more accessible. That makes it easy to pick up the phone and address any concerns and get answers to your questions. I find that by speaking to the staff you can often get a feel for how efficient they are. The other advantage is in terms of postage and packing. Not only are the costs much cheaper but I’m not expecting the inevitable delays that I get with CreateSpace orders that are shipped from America.
I didn’t go for the lowest priced printer in the end. I chose Biddles because they were reasonably priced and Nigel Mitchell has been very efficient up to now as well as really helpful.
Joanne Phillips has previously written a blog about doing your own typesetting (gosh that lady should be wearing a halo by now). Seriously though, if you aren’t already reading Joanne’s blog, I can’t recommend it enough. I wasn’t brave enough to attempt the typesetting myself. As I want to place this book with book shops and gift shops it’s very important to me that it looks as professional as possible and I was frightened of making a complete hash of it. Nevertheless Joanne’s blog did come in extremely handy.
The one drawback I found with a lot of printers was that they charge a lot for typesetting and as colour printing is still expensive (even if it’s only part colour), these additional costs would reduce my profit margins considerably. I therefore decided on a cheaper alternative by advertising the job on People per Hour and specifying my own budget. The guy I chose seemed to have good credentials, 30+ years’ experience in the printing industry etc. etc. However, it soon became evident that his experience was more with posters, brochures etc. rather than books. Some of his design features were great but he placed less emphasis on paragraph alignment, spacing, margin sizes etc.
I think I would go for a low cost option again but I would be sure to check that the person I employed had specific experience with typesetting books as this would have saved me a lot of time. Thankfully, I knew enough to point him in the right direction and my printer was very helpful and supportive. Eventually we got there and the finished document is now with the printer. It looks stunning, especially the images, and I can’t wait to see the book in print. The Kindle version also has colour pics and you can see an interior view at: http://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B00GXHQ02G.
It’s on with the promotion now while I wait for the print copies to arrive. I hope these tips have helped others. If you have any questions or any tips of your own to share, please feel free to comment in the box below.