How to organize Printing or Print on Demand

12 Apr

Printing – to sell more books?

Why should you have a print book, such as a paper back and not go with the digital version only? In a former blog post we listed eleven reasons for this:

  • The majority of book buyers still chooses printed books at the moment (that will change)
  • You can give out review copies to newspaper/magazine or book blog reviewers
  • To be hosted at local media / TV interviewers who want to show a copy of your book
  • To sell your book easier to libraries
  • To participate in a Goodreads giveaway
  • To sell your book to those who really don’t want an e-Reader or just love paper books
  • If you write non-fiction it is almost a must to offer it in paper as well
  • You have an ISBN number and can get listed with Bowker at worldwide bookstores
  • Physical books are just nicer to give on Christmas – unless you put an e-book on a new e-Reader and wrap it
  • To sell more e-books! Yes – because they seem to cost so much less in comparison…
  • To list your book in more categories / genres on Amazon: per book type you are allowed to choose two categories / genres. Two print and two digital versions – which increases your books’ visibility and also shows you exactly in which genre you have the most success.
Espresso Book Machine

Espresso Book Machine


During your pre-production phase you acquired already a bar code (for your print book) and an ISBN, the International Standard Book Number, a 13-digit number that uniquely identifies books published anywhere in the world. How to get one? Or better a blog of ten, if you intend to write more books. The price of a blog of ten is the same as buying only two ISBN’s.

Good news for authors in Canada: ISBN are free for Canadian citizens, publishing a book in Canada – no matter were it is sold. But that’s not the only benefit for the publishing industry in this country.

Selling your e-book on Amazon doesn’t necessarily require an ISBN, you will get automatically an ASIN, Amazon’s identifier. Other retailers may require an ISBN, such as Kobo for example.
ISBN numbers are assigned by a group of agencies worldwide coordinated by the International ISBN Agency in London, England.  In the United States, ISBN’s are assigned by the U.S. ISBN Agency: R.R. Bowker is the independent agent in the US for this system. You can apply for an ISBN online. On average it takes about two weeks for ISBN’s to be assigned. Getting your own ISBN is very important, as the initial purchaser of this number is considered officially as the publisher. Don’t fall for “free” ISBN and don’t purchase it from other sources than the official organizations.


Plan and calculate printing carefully
Unless you have hundreds or even thousands of paperback orders, it doesn’t make sense to have your book printed the traditional way. Book printers expect a run of at least five thousand books to give you a reasonable price per book. Avoid to be one of these authors who have a garage full of books and no idea how to sell them ever. Get your distribution channels (more about this in one of the next blogs) first and then order your printing.
For small print runs consider “Print On Demand”
CreateSpace and Lightning Source are recommendable POD’s who offer small print quantities and are distributing your book to wholesale and retailers. They have changed the book publishing landscape considerably. The issue of discounts and returns (the banes in book selling) are one of the primary reasons you might use them. Getting into Lightning Source (LSI) requires you have at least three books for sale. If you have only one book, you can band together with other authors, however, one of you has to be the official publisher. You can get your book into and Barnes& with only a 20% discount, and you avoid accepting returns.

Use both POD services for best results
Printing through Lightning Source is the least expensive way to get your book into If you get into Amazon via a distributor or the Amazon Advantage program, you’ll pay a slightly higher discount. Lightning Source is owned by Ingram, so when you sign up with LSI and pay $12 per year (per title), you get your book into Ingram’s large distribution network.
The benefit of CreateSpace: it’s owned by Amazon and your book will always show as available on Amazon’s website. However you can go with both to get full advantages and broader distribution of your book.

For just a few copies use “Espresso Book Machine”
If you don’t want to have print books, but would like to have a book signing or your grandma wants a copy of your book in paper, use either a print shop that offers digital printing or any of these Espresso Book Machines that are sprouting up in large cities. You certainly can order it online from them and get it shipped. Their prices are a bit higher, but if you need a bunch of books “yesterday” then it is a good option. Locations can be found at their North America Map.

Traditional book printing
Finding a cost effective Book Printer who wants to deal with a small publisher requires a bit of a search. Most printers can print books but few printers are professional book printers. There are only about 50,000 printers in North America and only a handful of them are book printers. Few book printers want to work with the first time publisher. Get referrals from other writers, check out books in your library that often shows the name of the printer or ask at writer seminars others about their experiences with printers. Don’t just order it from the first book printer you cross, get at least ten quotes for printing & binding prices, including shipping costs and references to have enough points to compare. Then ask those printers to give you titles of books they printed, and even maybe contact the independent authors, who dealt with the printer. A Google search or the Better Business Bureau regarding the printers reputation might be helpful too. Sample printing calculations can be found here:

Expect at least about 2-3 weeks in average including freight, but this depends heavily on your printer’s schedule – The earlier you book, the less time you need to budget. Add at least ten days as a safety margin for unforeseen’s, such as lost freight, weather disasters, machine breakdowns and other delays. A great source for detailed information about the printing process and explanations of trade-specific “slang” can be found at

Use the printing time to increase your marketing efforts:

  • Plan and advertise the book launch
  • Get as many pre-order for your book as possible
  • Increase Social Media efforts and sign up with even more reader forums
  • Spruce up your web page and write lots of blogs
  • Prepare news / press releases
  • Schedule interviews and book signings
  • Use Google+, Flickr, Pinterest etc. to show your new books’ cover image

The book release date is not the end of your book journey, but the beginning. Your book should have an active life span of at least 2-5 years, and much longer for an e-book, as it is a living document and can be revised to a new version any time. You now have almost a full-time job of being an author, and should continue to perform all of the marketing activities that you have been ramping up before.  More about book distribution channels in the next blog post. Stay tuned!




If you would like to get help in all things publishing, have your book heavily promoted and learn how to navigate social media sites: We offer all this and more for only a “token” of $1 / day for 3 months. Learn more about this individual book marketing help:

If you enjoyed this blog post, please feel free to check out all previous posts of this blog (there are more than 710 of them : ) if you haven’t already. Why not sign up to receive them regularly by email? Just click on “Follow” in the upper line on each page – and then on “LIKE” next to it. There is also the “SHARE” button underneath each article where you can submit the article to Pinterest, Google+, Twitter,, Facebook, Tumblr and StumpleUpon.

Thanks a lot for following:

@111publishing 111Publishing @ Google+


Hyper Smash


1 Comment

Posted by on April 12, 2013 in Publishing


Tags: , , , , , , ,

One response to “How to organize Printing or Print on Demand

  1. Clare Davidson

    August 13, 2013 at 6:45 am

    A very interesting article, thanks.

    I’ve just started using Lightning Source as well as CreateSpace. It’s worth noting that they will accept you with only one book, so long as you are planning on releasing more and have the ISBNs. Or that’s certainly the case in the UK, where you have to buy ISBNs in blocks of ten.

    Unlike CreateSpace, Lightning Source do charge set up fees and there are additional costs if you make changes after submitting the initial files. They aren’t as user friendly as CreateSpace, but certainly in the UK they are the best option for making your paperback available to distributors and wholesalers.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: