Today’s post is a guest post from Jeff McRitchie. If you’ve published your book as an eBook, but you’d like printed copies to use as giveaways, one way to do it is to bind your own books, rather than to go through a POD outfit. In this article, Jeff explains how you can do that. Take it away, Jeff…
Whether you are a brand new author just trying to figure things out or a veteran self-publisher, one of the most important decisions you will need to make about your books is how to distribute them. Many authors choose to distribute their titles as e-books because the distribution is easier and the price of printing and shipping your book is eliminated. However, there are many readers that prefer (if not demand) books that are actually printed. But what is your best option for printing and binding your own work?
Before I dive into this topic and give you some solutions, it is important that I mention a few important things…
- The options here are really best suited for short run or POD titles. If you know that you are going to need thousands of copies of your book, it will probably be cheaper and easier to engage with a printing company to print and bind your book for you. However, for many small authors, the minimum orders, set up fees and overall cost per book make a DIY the only real viable option.
- All of the advice here is designed to complement your e-publishing strategy, not replace it. There are some other awesome articles on this blog that will help you with the advice you need for getting your e-book out there.
- Most importantly, publishing a printed book has three important phases. Hopefully you have already finished the first phase which is to write, edit and layout your book. The second phase is the publishing step which we will discuss here. However, none of that really matters unless you complete the third step which is to market your title. Before you invest in printing and binding equipment to do your own publishing it is essential that you already have your plan to market your book.
If after all of that you are still interested in printing and binding your own title, here are five steps for getting started.
- Choose a cost effective print device: If you aren’t careful the cost to print your book will eat all of your potential profits. Additionally, you need to make sure that you have a print engine that can handle your volume. Make sure that you check to see what the cost of the toner is. Most printer manufacturers make their money on the toner not the machine. Look for a printer that has cheaper aftermarket cartridges to help cut down your costs. Check the duty cycle for the printer you are considering to see how many copies of your book you can print per month without overworking the device. Finally, be sure to make sure that printer will handle the size, thickness and paper type that you are going to use for your book. Generally speaking you will be better off with a high speed laser printer than an inkjet one and a black and white model will be far less expensive per page than a color one.
- Choose Your Binding Style: There are more than ten different binding styles that are commonly used to bind books and documents and I have seen every one of them used for self-publishing. That being said, most professionally bound books are published using a style called perfect binding which involves using hot glue to attach the pages of your book into a one piece pre-made cover. If you think you can sell your book with a different type of binding such as plastic combs, double loop wire, plastic coils or even in a three ring binder you might want to consider using one of those styles. However, if you think your readers are going to demand the look and feel of perfect binding you are going to be in for a little bit of an adventure. Still here are a few options for getting that perfect bound look…
- a. Buy a perfect binding machine: Unfortunately traditional perfect binding machines cost thousands of dollars and are impractical for most small self-publishing projects. Still, depending on your volume this might be an option and is one of the easiest. Cost: $3000+
- b. Make your own covers and use glue strips: One of my favorite options for DIY perfect binding is to make your own one piece cover, score it to create a spine and then use a thermal binding glue strip and a thermal binding machine to bind the book into the cover. This is extremely cost effective but can be fairly tricky and time consuming. Cost: ~$200 including 50 glue strips a machine and inexpensive scoring device.
- c. Consider Steel Spines: Both Unibind and Masterbind offer options that allow you to bind documents with steel spines. You end up with the look of a perfect bound book but the binding is a lot easier. The machines for this type of binding will cost around $500 and the supplies will be less than $1 per book. Cost: $500-$600
- d. Buy Pre-Printed Thermal Binding Covers: One of the most professional looking options would be to use thermal binding but to buy pre-printed thermal binding covers with the glue already applied in the spine. This is a lot easier to deal with than the glue strip option above but is also more expensive. You will probably need to buy at least 300 covers to make this option work and the covers will most like cost between $2-4 each. Cost: $700-900 including a machine and 300 covers
- Design and Print your Cover: This step really needs to be left until after you choose your binding style since the dimensions and style of the cover you are going to use will depend on how it is going to be bound. Make sure that you include you ISBN number on the back (part of that marketing plan) and that you come up with something really appealing since many potential readers will judge your book by its cover and not its contents (at least initially).
- Assemble and Bind your Books: Finally you are ready for the fun part. You take your printed pages and you use your binding machine to assemble the book into a finished product for your readers. You might choose to bind a small batch of books to get started or you can adopt a pure POD model and do them one at a time. The choice is yours.
About the Author:
Jeff McRitchie is VP of Marketing for http://www.mybinding.com and has helped hundreds of self-publishers find the equipment and supplies that they need to create their own books. He has written thousands of articles related to printing, binding and laminating and regularly writes posts on the MyBinding company blog.
Thanks for being here today, Jeff.
If you’d like to be a guest on Self-publishing Adventure, drop me a line through the contact form and let me know what topic you’d like to discuss.