Monday, July 16, 2012

Printing a Book

As most of you know I have been waiting for my books to arrive from the printers in China. Well! They are finally here, a whole pallet of them, 1000 copies sitting in my living room. It is a great feeling having my project complete and the finished book in my hands however at the same time it is quite terrifying haha. I now start on a completely different phase of creating a book and that is sales and marketing however that's a whole new set of posts. So lets talk more about the printing.

Finding a printer
Your book is complete and you are ready to place your first order of books and start sharing them with the world. The first thing you need to do is find a printer. This is somewhat harder than it sounds. I was quite keen to go with a printer in New Zealand however after inspecting a lot of books in the book stores I discovered that most books were in fact printed in China. I thought I would check it out anyway. So I emailed 10 different printers some from China some from New Zealand. I only received 5 emails back. The couple I got back from printers in New Zealand were quite ridiculous they were 5 times the cost of getting it done in China which meant I would not make any profit. So I ended up using a printer in China, I went with the company that was emailing me back the most and able to meet my requirements. It has been a tricky process and I have taken a few more risks than I would have liked however it has paid off and I have the books and am very pleased with the result.

Finishing options
I wanted my book to have a very professional finish and be well suited to Libraries and schools. Because of the nature of my readers I ordered hard cover with 157gsm pages. I decided on a Spot UV gloss with matte lamination for the cover. These things didn't add too much to the price as I was ordering 1000 copies. There are so many options when it comes to printing and finishing if you are not familiar with these just go into your local professional printers and ask them lots of different questions. Also have a look at the different finishes of the books in books shops. I feel like all this stuff adds a lot to the professionalism of your book.

As I ordered my books from China I ended up paying through PayPal. This worked really well as I was able to make payments that they could see at their end quickly and keep the whole process moving. I was very paranoid about sending money to a far away land and never seeing any books but the process kept me at ease most of the time. I paid for a draft copy to be sent by air so I could make sure everything was correct. I made some small changes to the files before going a head with the 1000 copies. Sadly they used my original file for the inner pages of the book which means my changes are not made on the printed copies. I am not too bumbed though as they were only minor and I am probably the only one who knows, notices or cares. The company I used asked for a 60% deposit before starting the printing then the rest of the balance before they ship. I was sent photos of the books before I paid the balance, the company were also emailing me on a daily basis. I never once spoke to them in person although all correspondence was done in English I felt I would be better understood through email. If you are worried about the legitimacy of the company give them a call for your own peace of mind.

I was given a choice of either air freight or sea freight. Because of the major cost difference I went with sea. I am not certain as to weather I would choose this option second time round. It took over two months for the whole process and a lot of it was not even when the books were on the ship. There was about a week in between when the prints were ready and when they were loaded onto the ship. Then at my end in New Zealand they spent about 1-2weeks coming from Auckland to Wellington and then being called on for a customs check. It was a very long process which I am quite keen to streamline a bit more next time.

Extra charges
The cost of printing and shipping were not the only costs I encountered when importing the books. Once the books made it to New Zealand I had to pay the logistics company for all their services as well as GST. These charges were close to half the cost of the printing and freight, just something to be aware of.

Things I learnt
Give the printer a date that you need the books by. I think that because I didn't give them a specific date my job was bumped down the cue a lot for more urgent jobs.
Get a pdf visual of the job sent to you before they go ahead with the final printing. This would have helped me with the wrong file being used.
Try to pre arrange a logistics company for your import matters. I ended up being allocated one because I didn't have one arranged already. I have a feeling I paid more doing it this way. Having one pre arranged would also allow you to get a quote before hand.

Another option is to:
Publish your book with CreateSpace: get high royalties, low book prices, and expanded distribution.

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