What You Don’t Know Can Boggle You

I’ve dedicated many of my blogs to self-publishing authors for a couple of reasons, first, I too am about to publish two books that I’ve written, a good brush up is always warranted, and second, I find myself working with authors more and more recently. As I listen to them I try to anticipate their needs. The miracle of the Internet has opened many more pathways for authors to get their work into the hands of their audiences, and self-publishing is a good way to go. In traditional publishing the authors were shielded from printing. It was the authors job to write and the publisher’s to handle all the other details.  Authors didn’t have to know anything about that other stuff, but if one goes the self-publishing route, you better have at least a cursory knowledge of what I’ve called in a previous blog printerese.

what you have to know

Suppose you were searching for a printer what do you want to know first? Right, how much is this going to cost? To determine the cost, the printer will  ask you some questions:

  1. How many books do you want to print?
  2. What kind of binding, hardcover or soft?
  3. What is the page size of the book?
  4. How many pages?
  5. If it is hardcover, what kind of material do you want for the wrapper, leather, cloth, or paper?
  6. If leather or cloth do you want foil stamping on the spine and cover?
  7. What kind of paper do you want for the text?
  8. Will it be half or full bound? This refers to using a different wrapper material on the covers than is used on the spine.
  9. Will there be photographs, and if so, will they be color or black & white?
  10. Will the pages bleed? (Remember this from a previous blog?)
  11. Do you want the pages sewn or burst bound?
  12. Do you want a dust jacket, if so will it print?
  13. If the dust jacket prints is it four color, two color, or one?
  14. Do you want a protective coating on the jacket like UV or film lamination?
  15. Will there be any special processes such as foil stamps, or  foil embosses on the jacket?
  16. Will the edges of the text be deckled or  smooth?
  17. Will there be any other special requirements such as gilting?
  18. Do you want a bookmark ribbon bound in?
  19. Do you want endpapers (recommended), if so, will they print?
  20. Do you want flyleaves?
  21. How about headbands?
  22. Are there any special boxing or packaging requirements?
  23. If the books are to be shipped what is the address, how do you want them shipped, and do we use your account?
got lost after No.4

I’m sure there are other questions that must be addressed, but this is a pretty comprehensive list–don’t you agree? While each of these questions is important to pricing the project, unless you are in the business, you probably got lost somewhere after question number 4. What do you do? Well, you can run back to the safety net of traditional publishing, if you can find a publisher to handle your book, that is. Or you could decide to persist and learn what you can. Good resources would include, the web, the library, book designers, graphic designers, printers, or print brokers like myself.

knowledge saves

Whatever learning path you decide to take, concentrate on the 23 questions above and make sure you can answer them completely. Then and only then, are you ready to seek printing bids on your own. Otherwise you are a sheep just waiting to be sheared and trust me there are plenty of people who will gladly take your money while you are all starry eyed and dreaming of being a best selling author. In one case a woman spent over forty-thousand dollars before even one book was printed. Now that’s sad.

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