With all the choice in publishing models today, it really is a ‘Choose Your Own Adventure!’
It’s no longer a case of one size fits all, you can build your own publishing model!
Here are some elements to consider so you can ‘pick n mix’ what is right for you.
How do you know what size to make your book? And is there a ‘normal’ size.
For the majority of books (whether they are fiction or non-fiction) are produced to a few standard recipes.
There are benefits to producing your book to what they term ‘Trade Specifications.” Adhering to the trade specifications can make your book more cost effective to produce, more available to a wider range of outlets, and therefore, more saleable.
What this means is, there are a bunch of generic sizes created to fit standardised requirements in the supply chain. Standard sizes fit on bookstore and library bookshelves; fit into standard size cartons for shipping; print presses hold the standard paper sizes in stock and their machines are plated to these generic sizes… all of these ‘standardised mechanisms’ create efficiencies in time and cost all the way through the supply chain, thus make your book more available to the market.
But just because it is ‘trade size’ does not mean it will look the same as everyone else. There is a lot of scope within the trade range. In fact, there are currently approximately 24 different portrait, landscape, or square sizes available to choose from.
However, there are sometimes good reasons to go with a custom size for your book. If your book is more high end and you can command a premium price for it, the extra cost of production for something more bespoke may be worthwhile.
Examples of custom size books are:
◆ Some coffee table books, especially if it has detailing or embossing on it.
◆ Pop-up books for the children’s market.
◆ Photography books and books containing artwork, where the amazing images justify using such a large format, high-resolution end product.
Printing Books Yourself
If you are planning on printing a quantity of books to sell directly to your audience, here are some tips:
- Find the right printer for your needs before you finalise your artwork.
- Choose your printer and ensure they are happy to communicate with you about your requirements (if not, there are many printers who will) before creating your artwork and work within their specifications.
- Choose a printer who prints books. It sounds a bit silly I know, but look for a book printer, rather than a printer who’s main trade is business cards and flyers, but may be willing to print your book for you. Just like designers, each of them have amazing, often varied, skill-sets and the same goes for print houses.
Print on Demand
‘Print On Demand’ is a popular way for self-publishers to get their work onto the global online platforms (like Amazon) and not have the storage issue of holding inventory, shipping stock to suppliers and customers, invoicing and chasing payments. It allows you to get your book to market in a truly frictionless way.
Here is briefly how it works:
- The self-publisher opens an account with a Publish on Demand (POD) company, for example CreateSpace or Ingram Spark.
- The self-publisher uploads their book files to the (POD) company and indicates which online stores they would like their book to be available, for example Amazon.com
- A customer goes to the Amazon.com store and purchases one copy of your book. The customer pays Amazon the retail price of the book plus shipping.
- Amazon sends a message to your POD company, asking them to print one copy of your book and provides them with the customers details on where to ship the book to.
- Amazon pays the POD company the costs involved in printing and shipping one copy of your book to their customer.
- Amazon pays you, the creator of the book, a royalty for the book that has been sold.
- Amazon keeps their share.
The print on demand model has come a long way in the past 5 years and, with many of them, the quality of the finished books is unrecognisable from a traditionally published book. If you are not sure if this model is right for you, here are some thoughts to mull over:
- It allows you to be speculative – you may hold some print copies of your book locally, but wish to expand into other markets eg. USA. This allows you to do this with minimal cost.
- It leaves a smaller carbon footprint in the supply chain – If you, as the self-publisher, have an account with a large POD company, they all have print presses in many major hubs such as Australia, USA and the UK. So this allows the POD company to print and ship your book from the buyers location.
- It minimises warehouse requirements.
- It creates efficiency in shipping – saving the buyer the financial burdon of expensive shipping and you the time burdon of packaging and postage.
- It allows you to be nimble, a must for a small business owner. You don’t have to be a warehouse manager, managing out-of-stock or overstock situations. If you want to move quickly on marketing activity, your book will always be available.
What is an eBook?
eBooks have come a long way in the past 10 years, thanks to Amazon and Apple. Years ago, eBooks were just a PDF copy of a print book you could read on your computer screen. Now, they are a book format in their own right.
The universally accepted format for an eBook is called ePub. This means it is a specially coded form of your book (a bit like HTML is on a website) that makes the text and images in your book render nicely on any reading device, such as Kindles, iPads, Sony readers etc.
Once you have an ePub version of your book, it can be uploaded to any of the online global book selling platforms.
Note: There are a lot of online free tools that will convert your word document into an ePub, I have not found one yet that creates a beautifully formatted book. To achieve the correct formatting (i.e. the right spacing between the words, consistent line spacing, no funky characters randomly appearing in the text) I recommend engaging a person who converts your content to ePub format. It’s a skill.
Channels to Market
So once you have a print book or eBook – where are you going to put it? You could:
- Sell it on your site – you will need some way of transacting the sale, such as Paypal or Gumroad.
- Sell it on 3rd party sites – for Print books: Booktopia, Amazon.com. For eBooks: Amazon, Apple iBooks, Barnes & Noble.
Where you sell it may depend on many variables. If you do not have a lot of traffic to your site, it may be worthwhile also listing it on a 3rd party site, until you have built up your readership.
We all start somewhere. 🙂
Next Step… Who’s On My Team