View Full Version : looking to self-publish, NOT POD

06-27-2008, 03:22 AM
what are your experiences with printing companies? what format would i need to put my book in? anyone?

06-27-2008, 03:26 AM
May I ask what your objection to POD is?

Doing a large, off-set run means being sure that you can shift them all, lest they take up room in your garage...

06-27-2008, 03:31 AM
Way too broad a question. Speaking for myself, you must give me a whole lot more info before I could attempt to answer. Explain what you mean "looking to self-publish, NOT POD." For kids or adults? Fiction or non-fiction? How many pages? Any graphics? Who is your audience? Do you know what kind of cover (hard or paper) and binding you want to use? ETC.

06-27-2008, 03:39 AM
scope- I want to make 1000 manuals/directories/compilations of interviews ive done. 250 pages. a few sparse illustrations. paperback.

stormhawk- thanks for your response, i am aware of these things. i prefer to maintain my own stock of all things i sell. having control of my affairs gives me peace of mind.

06-27-2008, 04:10 AM
Thanks for putting this question out, Brandon. My contract with the publisher of my first book will end at the end of this year and I'm thinking of printing my own from then on. I'll need a new cover, ISBN etc but I'm sure it will be cheaper than negotiating an extension of their control of the book. So I'm looking for help to find any potential problems with this way of publishing.

06-27-2008, 07:25 AM
I'm not sure I'm reading you correctly. It seems that you want to find an independent printer, not a self-publishing company, where you will pay to have 250 b&w paperback books, with some b&w illustrations, printed and bound. That you will take delivery of same and be in charge of publicity, marketing, and distribution. Is this what you want to do? If so, why don't you want to use POD or make an arrangement with a self-publisher to at least do the manufacturing and the little they can do re all other matters? Have you met with any book printers and gotten quotes for your intended work? This type of thing isn't my bag, but I'd imagine it will cost you several dollars for each of the 250 books, all things considered. And don't forget that you'll be responsible for all editing and production decisions, to say nothing of publicity, marketing, and distribution, as well as the costs for same. Do you have the background, ability, time, and money to handle all of this? It's going to cost you a good sum of money.

06-27-2008, 07:54 AM
Of course, I am aware of all this. I need a book printer. I guess my question was misphrased. Any book printers that you recommend?

As far as publicity, I have already gotten publicity for my works. Ive been interviewed by Mens Health, MSNBC, the BBC, a couple other local news channels, Vice Magazine, a couple others that escape me. Here's the problem............. I have no book to sell yet! these media organizations have solicited me for interviews, i have no publicist. do i need one if i am interviewed by all these people just by putting out my email address??????
furthermore, this is 2008. publishers are about as necessary as record companies.

i am aware im posting some dubious claims, so heres the mens health article(which i must warn you, is sensationalistic, misleading and just plain goofy)


06-27-2008, 08:04 AM
You're question was not misphrased. You clearly stated you are looking to self-publish and want info on a printing company.

I haven't self-published, but I know someone who did and she went to a local printer and negotiated a deal.

ETA: A mistake she made was not getting an ISBN number.

ETA: She paid $1,500 for $1,000 books.

Chris Huff
06-27-2008, 11:25 AM
If you choose to self-publish, that's your prerogative. However, answering all these questions, dealing with marketing and sales, handling book launches, distribution, all these things are exactly why many people still need publishing companies.

I work in publishing and I'm happy to answer as best I can.

Get an ISBN from Bowker.

Do a search for book printers. Most printers can do a wide variety of trim sizes, so you'll want to find the size you like and go with that. Get quotes from a few of them after you've finished the layout and design of the book. The closer they are the cheaper the shipping, but a more distant printer might have such a better deal that it makes up for the shipping.

The printer will tell you the width of your spine, it's based on the paper and page count, but they keep it all a secret. Finalize your cover (with the spine width), and send it to them as a pdf. Separate files for the book block and the cover. Your best bet is to use InDesign or Quark, most other programs are bad for professional printing, i.e. they look bad. Whatever you do, don't use Word.

You'll want to send them print outs of the book block and cover along with a CD that contains all the fonts, images, and other files. When they send you the proofs, take the time crunch seriously. They really do expect you to turn it around in a day.

A word of caution though, I can only imagine this is a project you feel strongly about, but be as conservative as possible about the print run. Printing books off-set is spendy, having a storage site filled with books you can't sell is worse.

I would suggest you ask those printers about digital short run. The printing cost (your cost) is higher per unit, but you can order fewer copies. The break-even point between them is usually around 1000 copies, but it depends on the printer. Especially if you plan on hand-selling these books, go with digital short run, you'll do yourself a huge favor.

06-27-2008, 06:15 PM
what are your experiences with printing companies? what format would i need to put my book in? anyone?
Recommendation: Buy a copy of the latest edition of Dan Poynter's Self-Publishing Manual. Study it.

(Granted, he advises stacking the spine text vertically, which I think screams "SELF-PUBLISHED" and looks weird, but he covers a lot of ground in his book.)

When getting bids on printing, put McNaughton & Gunn (Michigan) on your list. Folks I know have had good experience with them.


06-27-2008, 07:32 PM
You can't get better advice than that given you by Chris Huff and ResearchGuy.

06-29-2008, 05:18 AM
Better yet, buy a copy of "The Well-Fed Self Publisher" by Peter Bowerman. And I'd recommend Bookmasters wholeheartedly for so many reasons that put other printers (POD or offset) to shame, IMO. Trust me! They have so many advantages over all others and price competively.

07-02-2008, 01:48 AM
Hi Brandon from Ohio,

I have done exactly what you said, and without getting into the wide variety of issues about self-publishing, the answer to your question is, bookmasters.com. And they will take your book and cover in PDF form.

I have done several small runs with them. I like the work and have found them to be decent people, and without getting too gushy, in my opinion it's a sort of a "best of the heartland" kind of company.

As near as I can tell, they are extremely competitive cost-wise, as well.

Feel free to ask me more questions about my experience with them or any other details. Good luck!


07-07-2008, 03:44 AM
I wholeheartedly agree with the advice given thus far. As for the two books, I think Bowerman's is a little easier reading, would recommend it first for a good overview of the whole process and then Poynter's for finer details.

I also suggest you check out http://booksjustbooks.com I haven't printed yet, but I've gotten info, corresponded with them with questions. They offer help and various resources for layout, cover etc. and can do POD should the need come up anyway.

Stacie Vander Pol
07-07-2008, 06:52 AM
You may also want to read "Aiming at Amazon" by Aaron Shepard. It's a lot about promoting your book on Amazon, but a huge portion is devoted to publishing on your own, working with Lightning Source, getting an ISBN, getting into Bowker's Books in Print, and so on.
Good luck, sounds like you already have a fantastic start. How did you land the interviews?

07-08-2008, 01:54 AM
Good question, how did you land those interviews?

07-08-2008, 03:42 AM
what are your experiences with printing companies? what format would i need to put my book in? anyone?

Depends on what you have it in now and what you want to end up with when it's done......

As a printer I've seen just about everything. From spot on professionally done ready to go PDF files to cocktail napkins in a shoebox. From the sound of things you have most of the elements ready to go. If you have it in, or can get it in, PDF form that will work for just about any printer that knows what they are doing.

If you need help getting it finished and want to self-publish keep in mind that there is an economy of scale that goes with printing. For some reason way too many people want 100 copies of their books printed for the same price per copy that is offered by an Internet company "publisher" that won't do less than a thousand.

Also note that some companies can do it all in-house others simply farm out the processes. For instance, they may be able to print the text pages and covers but use another company to laminate the cover and another to do the binding. Ask about their in-house capabilities. If they are sending out parts of it the price will go up. A lot of publishers don't do any of the printing and binding but instead contract a printing company to do it.

We do a lot of work for the local writers groups and see a wide variance of experience. Some have difficulty turning on the computer and can't distinguish between Notepad and MS-Word. Others deliver their work digitally in MS-Word in the default format (8-1.2 X 11) and have us do the final formatting to size, photo links, headers, etc. Then there are a number that can do a lot of the work themselves with instructions we provide and manage to save a lot of money in setup and basic editing costs.

Since we are a printer with short run book printing capabilities and not a publisher we charge for the time it takes to do setup, design and layout. We only print the books and do not do any marketing or distribution. Publishers don't charge you but are extremely selective at what they take on since a dud just costs time and money. A Vanity Press prints your book at your cost and may or may not follow through with the promises of marketing and distribution, but may still hold some rights to later publication.

If you are self-publishing, find someone that can follow your instructions on what you want done from layout to cover design all the way down to the type of paper. If they are willing and not trying to scam you they will do so. Insist on a production proof from your initial copy, or after it is formatted to size. And if a number of corrections are made by you that may alter the overall layout, get another production proof copy. If they can't (or won't) do that look around some more, there are those that can and will.

A little long but I kind of got on a roll, sorry.

Hope this helps.

07-10-2008, 11:58 AM
Lulu.com serves one good purpose, if nothing else. You can upload your book to them and get a proof to check. And if you need to make changes (almost certainly), then it costs you nothing to make the changes and order another proof. But, admittedly, they are a lousy place to actually SELL books.

Lightning Source is pretty good. But have those files at 100% if you use them. They charge over $400 to make changes to a ms.

07-10-2008, 10:00 PM
. . . it costs you nothing to make the changes and order another proof.

. . .

Well, you do have to pay for the book(s) and shipping. Still a bargain, though.


10-19-2008, 09:39 PM
thanks everyone, this is great.

10-22-2008, 04:32 AM
Thanks for putting this question out, Brandon. My contract with the publisher of my first book will end at the end of this year and I'm thinking of printing my own from then on. I'll need a new cover, ISBN etc but I'm sure it will be cheaper than negotiating an extension of their control of the book. So I'm looking for help to find any potential problems with this way of publishing.

Mumut if you are thinking of publishing POD than use someone like

http://www.digitalprintaustralia.com - if your book is colour you won't get a better price than them and the quality is exceptional. Black and white quotes will be on par with lulu but you won't have the shipping. Lulu now use a printer in Australia for Australian books and there is currently an uproar on lulu about this, and by understanding the quality is far from acceptable for resalable books.

Now if you are thinking of printing say 1000 books, look off shore for example a company like http://www.paramount.com.hk an Australian offset printer can not compete with them. My book was initally going to be printed just for my website visitors. Than I had a business man who came across my site and funded the first large run and now the second is on its ways from China. An example of the different quotes he got was

digital australia full colour book x 142 pages 50 books @ approximately $29/book

Paramount full colour book x 142 pages 1000 books @ approximately $6.50/book

Another alternative is creat a space if where you don't have to have an isbn and they will feed the book to amazon. Creat a space are cheaper than lulu. You must remember different formats if using lulu or any american print on demand mob. For example by book is A4 colour and can't be printed by creat a space or lulu or for that matter lightning source.

I see the only problem of this type of printing as being able to get it into the actual book stores without a distribution plan in place, and this will not be easy to find one. You also need to have a great deal of knowledge and ways to get your book seen. Having said that, although my book has not been published by a convential publishing company it is doing quite well from my own efforts and my new found friend.

Our agreement is working out excellently. We both have business sense, and a great deal of knowledge about marketing. I spent sixteen years with a marketing company, hence as a programer, but netherless the exposure has done well. There is an Australian Guide - the current best seller in its field called "Self Publishing Made Simple," by Euan Mitchell - a quick search on google will find it...or try www.overdogpress.com (http://www.overdogpress.com) his site.

Although I had intended to self published, and was a few weeks from doing so, I believe it can lead to being published. Euan Mitchel self published his first book which ended up getting picked up by a publishing house. Mine has been done unorthadox, but the expense and gamble has not been mine, and I have not lost any of my rights to the book. I'm not sure it would have done as good as it has and is if I had of gotten a traditional publisher. Ironically, I never tried, never entered my mind. I secured a contract that paid me upfront a tidy sum of money and a percentage of profits much higher than a normal publishing company would have given me. And bye the way, managed to get a review in the Department of Scan mag out due next month. I haven't seen it yet, but fingers crossed it will sell some more books.

10-23-2008, 03:38 AM
Hi Brandon from Ohio,

...the answer to your question is, bookmasters.com. And they will take your book and cover in PDF form.

Feel free to ask me more questions about my experience with them or any other details. Good luck!


Brandon and Jerrywaxler:
could you please share what your experiences are with Bookmasters?
How much do they charge for book design, cover design, etc?
Did you use their marketing services provided by Atlas?
How tolerant are they with returns?
What about customer service and book quality?

I know they charge a whole lot for ISBNs, Bar Codes, LCCN, etc, so it would be easier for one to get those from Bowker by oneself.
However, I wonder if they are overpriced on everything else as well?

Please share your experiences. Thanks.