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logo2xI’ve been slowly shifting the distribution of my books from CreateSpace to IngramSpark. Both services make physical copies of books available through Ingram. However, I discovered that CreateSpace apparently doesn’t offer the typical 40 percent discount to bookstores. This makes it a deterrent to bookstores to carry CreateSpace books.

While IngramSpark offers a better discount to booksellers, it costs more to print books with IngramSpark. Also, books printed with IngramSpark apparently show with a shipping delay on Amazon.com.

You can have the advantages of both, though. You accomplish this by listing your book with IngramSpark and CreateSpace (without choosing the expanded distribution options). Doing this, you have your book listed on Amazon.com with no shipping delays, and you can order physical copies at the better price from CreateSpace. At the same time, bookstores can order your books with the typical discounts from IngramSparklogo-csp-no-tm

The other advantage you get with using IngramSpark is that you can publish your book in hardback format. I don’t expect many hardback sales, but I like that I can offer the book. I have two books that I’ve always been disappointed that I couldn’t publish as hardback because they are designed to be more like a tabletop book. They were the first two hardbacks that I set up on CreateSpace, and I was happy with the finished product.

Now, I’m not saying having your book in IngramSpark will get your book into stores, but it will help. Barnes & Noble still doesn’t like stocking print-on-demand books, but I have found other chains willing to offer my books (at least at a local level) when they can get a standard discount. This actually confuses me because I was willing to offer those stores a better deal than they could get through Ingram if they dealt with me directly. Corporate policy wouldn’t allow it, though. Go figure.

For now, take a look at IngramSpark. Get your account set up and familiarize yourself with what’s on the site.

Next week, I’ll talk about the hiccups that I’ve run into and how I’m working around them.

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Lots and lost of offset signatures ready to be folded, cut, and bound into pages.

My writer’s group had the opportunity to tour Sheridan Press in Hanover, Pa., last week. One member had printed her book with them and another member had worked for them previous.

This particular location can do offset as well as digital printing. It began as a small company in 1915 that printed a single poultry publication that went out to 100,000 people. Today, it had multiple locations and prints magazines and journals as well as books.

There is definitely a lot more work that goes into printing offset and although our guide said that she could tell the difference, I can’t see it.

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Polybagged journals getting shipping labels.

I was also surprised that with all of the automation involved in printing, how much still needs to be done by hand. The more your project has something that needs to be done by hand, the more expensive the project will be.

Walking through the plant gave me a much better understanding of what happens to a manuscript when it goes to the printer. It gave me an appreciation for what I’m paying for. This is a double-edged sword.

While I now understand better why offset can give you a price break that print-on-demand can’t when you order more books, I also see that the cost many printers charge for print-on-demand corrections is ridiculous.

And anything that helps me better understand the industry is a good thing.

Here are some additional shots that I took during the tour.

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The high-speed print-on-demand machine sends the paper in a continuous line through printing on one side and then the other before the paper is cut into individual pages.

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Checking the signatures coming off the press to make sure everything looks good.

new-amazon-kindleI was reading Joanna Penn’s Author 2.0 Blueprint the other day and she noted, “If you’re self-publishing, most of us make the vast chunk of our income from ebooks, because there are no restrictions on sales and readers don’t even have to know who published the book.” (BTW, you can get this book for free from her web site and it’s a great resource.)

This statement in the book struck me because it’s far from my own experience. I get about 45% of my income from my books and about 5% from my ebooks. I certainly wouldn’t mind it being the other way around if my current book level made up the 5%.

With a $7.99 ebook, I earn a $5.42 royalty for each sale. For $2.99 ebooks, I earn $2.04 and for $0.99 ebooks, I earn $0.35. That a pretty high percentage (35% to 68%).

By contrast, for a $19.95 paperback, I earn between $5 and $15 after subtracting the book production costs. That means I’m earning between 25% and 75% in net profit for each book.

So per book, I make more for each print book than I do for each ebook. Ebooks tend to be less expensive, though, but you need an e-reader to read them. I still run into plenty of people who tell me that they don’t have an e-reader or that they like the feel of a book in their hands. To be honest, I also meet people who look at my books and ask if they are available on Kindle, Nook, or Kobo.

I still need physical books to sell when I do festivals or presentations. People are there ready to buy and are looking for them.

My book sales have been growing nicely over the past couple years, but the e-books haven’t kept up. It certainly seems like it would be a more efficient use of my time if I was selling a couple thousand ebooks a month.

I think Penn’s statement just shows how much better my marketing needs to become. It’s all right, but it needs to be better. It can be better.

So what are your experiences? Do ebooks or physical books sell better for you? What are your best marketing techniques?

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