Printing Options for the Self-Publisher

Printing 5 Comments »

I’ve been so bad about keeping up with this blog for a couple of months that it’s hard to know where to pick up! However, one of the biggest questions aspiring self-publishers face is where to get their books printed. Since I had such wonderful experiences with the two printers I used, I thought I would give a little background info and pass them along as resources.

There are two primary types of printing available: Print-on-demand (POD), or offset printing. Even though POD is becoming increasingly popular, I knew that because of quality, interior layout, and cost considerations, I wanted to do an offset print job for the official print run of Pajama School. So I began contacting different printers, giving them my specs, and getting quotes. Here’s the information you need to be prepared to give in order to get a quote (I’ll demonstrate by including the specs I chose for my book:

Book size/Trim size: 5.5 x 8.5
Number of Pages: 336 (Early on I just had to guess how many pages the book was going to be; I started with 256 and had to get an updated quote once I knew for sure how many pages it was.)
Quantity: 2,500 (I got quotes on several different quantities and compared them to see what was the most realistic and cost-effective.)
Text: one-color (black) on 45# hybrid white (444ppi) (I tossed around the idea of doing a brown ink interior, but it was significantly more expensive, so I opted to stick with black.)
Cover: 4-color on 10 Pt. C1S + lay-flat gloss film lamination
Binding: Adhesive bound soft cover
File type: printer-ready application and PDF files

If any of the above looks like a foreign language to you, I encourage you to order the free Publishing Basics Book. It includes some helpful information about different paper types, in addition to many other details. Also, the companies I contacted were more than happy to send me samples of various paper types and weights, and covers that they had printed. Do as much research as you can on your own, but then don’t be afraid to ask your printer contact for clarification or help understanding what the different specs mean.

Offset Printer Recommendation
It’s kind of a long (but amazing!) story of how the Lord led me to the company I chose for offset printing, but I would highly recommend them to any self-publisher! The company is called Jerico, LLC. and is based out of Sisters, Oregon. You can send an e-mail to Eric Weber if you are interested in getting a quote on your book project. Eric was extremely helpful and patient in answering my questions and explaining anything that I didn’t understand. He was always prompt in responding to e-mails (the only means of communication we ever had!), and went above and beyond what I expected to make sure that I was pleased with the final product.

Short-Run POD Printer Recommendation
Since I knew I wanted to do a small run of about 40 books to send out as Advance Review Copies, I also had to check into a POD option. The two main companies I had heard about were 360 Digital and Lightning Source. After filling out some forms, reading lots of information, and making contact with representatives at both places, I opted to go with Lightning Source. The process is very extensive (so brace yourself for the long-haul!), but the information is very thorough and I found the customer service to be excellent. Just be sure you read everything carefully and follow all the guidelines! I poured over tons of pdf files and all the help sections on the website to be sure that I understood what I was getting into and how to do it. Then I sent all the appropriate files and links to my cover designer and interior layout designer to make sure they knew how everything needed to be formatted and submitted.

Lightning Source provides other services for authors in addition to printing, but since I didn’t want to mass distribute digitally printed copies of Pajama School I didn’t utilize anything other than the actual printing. Using them for the first print run also gave us the opportunity to proof a hard copy of the book and make changes to the final manuscript before sending it to Jerico. It’s pretty costly to make changes once you receive the proof from the offset printer, so the more changes you can make ahead of time, the better!

Hopefully this information is helpful. I’m anticipating having some more time over the summer to post regular updates on this blog again. As I’m learning first-hand, once the book is printed and released, the work has just begun!

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