Speaking of printers, you'll need one to produce your book. That's a company, not a peripheral. Shop around to find a good company that caters for self-publishers who might want print runs in the low hundreds and who don't charge the earth for the privilege. I found the established print firm Antony Rowe to be helpful and competitive.
PRINTERS: A good printer will allow you to choose things like the type of paper stock used and the page size
A good printer is imperative. You should be able to specify page count, cover and text paper stock (measured in gsm, or grams per square metre) and the page size before getting an estimate. My cover stock was 250gsm and text pages were 80gsm. The quote will include a one-off initial setup fee (around £150), but remember to factor delivery charges on top – books are delivered by courier.
It'll obviously work out cheaper if you get your books delivered in one bulk load, as courier costs increase the more boxes there are. If your print quote seems a bit high, think about reducing the page count and increasing the page size. Your book print costs are entirely dictated by the amount of pages that it contains. Either make some ruthless edits to drop the page count or look at reducing the font size slightly. For maximum effect, do both.
That's what I decided to do, and my wallet is glad I did: by shrinking the font from 12pt to 10pt after cutting, I reduced my page count from 560 to 400, which created a substantial saving. Most self-published authors go for a paperback format simply because it keeps costs down.
This isn't unusual, though; novels are usually released in paperback unless you're an international best-selling author, in which case a publisher might release your latest masterpiece in hardback first at an increased price. If you're only printing a minimal amount of pages, though, (say, a book of family photos) it make sense to make the book hardback – it's probably worth the extra costs.
Some printers will entertain very small print runs (50 copies, say) and might even offer print on-demand services. This is perfect for self-publishers, as it means that your set-up costs are the same if you request one or 100 copies of your book. With a large order, a sample of your book will be sent out for you to approve before the rest of the books are printed.
This can be an exciting and slightly unreal experience – I cracked open a bottle of bubbly at this stage! When you've sobered up, check that the cover's colouring and print quality is how you envisaged it, and try reading your book from start to finish to spot any printer errors (like duplicated pages) or textual mistakes that you've missed. Once you give the printer the go ahead to print, there's no turning back, so make sure you've proofread your book very carefully.
Get someone else with a keen eye to proof it too: it smacks of unprofessionalism if there are lots of errors, plus it'll be expensive if you need to resubmit a new PDF to the printers. If you're determined to go down the self-publishing route, the best of British luck to you.
But no matter how well or badly your book does, you can always be proud that you've written a book and published it. Not everybody can say that.
First published in PC Plus Issue 283
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