Choosing a print-on-demand company is like choosing a business partner. You want to find a match that will support your goals.
One thing I tell the members of my Self-Publish Program is to look at all your options BEFORE you choose one to work with. I provide a list of companies and their features in Module 2 where we select a printer before we ever begin formatting.
The reason is, not all POD companies are the same. Each offers different kinds of services as well as products. For example, not all book sizes are offered by every POD company. Changing your book size after its been formatted is a hassle!
To avoid those kinds of errors and setbacks, look at all your options before picking a printing partner.
What should I be looking for you ask? I’m so glad you asked! There are so many things to consider, so let’s start with high priority:
One of the most important questions you can ask yourself when looking at a print-on-demand company is, “How much does it cost to publish my book with this company?” After all, there’s a lot of money to be made in publishing your own book, and you don’t want to spend that money on fees.
Printing costs – Printing costs are pretty basic. They will differ depending on what kind of format your book is published in. The cost of printing hardback books tend to be the highest because they require more materials (i.e., cloth binding). Paperbacks and hardcovers generally have similar printing costs because they both use paper pages. And ebooks generally have the lowest printing costs due to their digital nature.
Distribution costs – Distribution fees cover the costs associated with getting your book into stores where customers can buy them (such as Barnes & Noble). Typically, print-on-demand companies charge per unit sold so they don’t need upfront payments from authors or publishers before distribution begins — however some may still require an upfront fee if there’s no guarantee that enough books will be sold within 12 months after the publication date! The typical distribution fee ranges anywhere between 10% and 30%.
One of the biggest questions you’ll have when choosing a print-on-demand company is: What’s the royalty rate?
As you may have gathered, this is how much money you make per book sold. In most cases, your royalty will be a percentage of the list price.
It’s important to research and compare what different companies are offering to make sure you’re getting a good deal. With some companies, for example, if you offer your book as an audio download (something not always available), or if it’s particularly large, then your royalty could be significantly less than that of a smaller book or ebook.
This can vary greatly from company to company so make sure you do the math before signing up with anyone!
You should try to aim for something between 25% and 90%. I know you’ve heard this before, “If a deal seems too good to be true, then it probably is”. This applies here. If it seems like they’re trying too hard to convince you about their ‘wonderful’ royalty rates, then maybe they’re hiding something in their other terms and conditions…
There are a few things you should consider when thinking about this. Turnaround times depend on the company, but generally, the turnaround time for POD printing is 2-3 weeks. There is generally a longer turnaround time associated with hardcover books. Some companies offer rush services and expedited distribution options, so you can get your book out to readers faster.
It’s not uncommon to find an error in your book after you’ve published it (trust me), or want to make changes based on the feedback you get. Because of this, you need a publisher who makes it easy to update your books.
In addition, being able to make updates gives you more flexibility and control over the book publishing process. For example, if there are corrections that need to be made or small changes that can be made quickly, like updating a picture or changing a section title, you don’t have to wait for the printing company and go through another round of printing. You can just make the change on your end and print a new version without having to deal with reprinting costs.
More formats = more opportunities for sales. A service that offers various book sizes, paper, and cover options will give you more opportunities to generate sales. For example, some readers prefer hardcovers and softcovers, even though the prices are often very similar. Some people’s reading habits vary by season: they might buy trade paperbacks in summer and ebooks in winter. A service that offers multiple formats will give you more chances to sell your books to a wider audience.
It’s important to consider what the company offers in terms of marketing. This can come in several forms:
If you want to get your book on a shelf in a bookstore, your best bet is to partner with a print-on-demand company that offers distribution services. After publishing with their print-on-demand service, the print-on-demand partner will list your book with wholesalers who work with brick and mortar stores like Barnes and Noble.
While working directly with these companies can be extremely challenging (especially if you are self-published), partnering with a print-on demand company that has built relationships makes it much easier for you to get your book listed in these places. The company provides many of the necessary tools from one of their partners IngramSpark (the largest independent distributor of books) that allows retailers to find your title easily online and order them for their store. This includes providing an International Standard Book Number (ISBN) which is sold by Bowker’s Books In Print database and is purchased by retailers who need it in order to sell the book at an established price, along with providing metadata or descriptive data about the product such as title, author name(s), publisher information, edition number, etc., so retailers can identify the product when purchasing it from IngramSpark’s website or looking it up on Books In Print.
As you can see, there are many things to consider when selecting a Print on Demand company. I devote a whole lesson in the Self-Publish Program diving deeper into this very important decision you’ll be making as a self-published author. You should do your research and make sure that the company is right for your particular situation. Find out as much as you can before committing.
Always consider these main points:
Costs – Make sure you understand what it will cost to produce and distribute your book in both print and digital formats.
Revenue – Make sure you understand what potential sources of income are available from selling your book, ebooks and related products.
Support – Make sure you understand what support resources and services are available if you need help with troubleshooting or advice about marketing strategies.
Good luck future author!
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Besides being a cookie connoisseur, I am a wife, mom of 2 and author of 7. Through my passion of teaching, I created the Self-Publish Program where I help busy women professionally self-publish the book of their dreams on a budget. Follow for more tips!