Last month I spoke about self-publishing at Nick Williams’ event ‘How To Be An Author Entrepreneur’. The event was timely, because I was able to deliver copies of Nick’s new book ‘How To Be Inspired’ at the same time. Nick’s reaction to his book took me completely by surprise. He was amazed when I told the group that Nick’s 140 page book had cost just over £1 per copy to print. And that was from a UK printer!
Nick had been to Staples the day before to photocopy and wiro-bind the handouts for the day. 30 sheets of A4 printed and bound cost Nick almost £2 per set. And here was me, announcing that a 140 page paperback book had cost just over £1. I can see why he was surprised. Yet this wasn’t some special deal – this was the standard price of paperback book printing. Sure, I had to order 1,000 copies to get them at this price. If I had ordered 50 copies then each one would have cost a lot more. But I’m aware that prospective authors often assume that printing costs a lot more than it does, and so I am delighted to set the matter straight.
Before committing to one of the print on demand ‘publishers’ that advertise on the internet, check out other prices for the print element first. I went online this afternoon and found one of the best known print on demand publishers quoting £5.46 per copy for a similar paperback book. True, you don’t have to commit to printing 1,000 copies. But at £5.46 each, you’ll find it virtually impossible to charge a competitive price to supply the retail trade. But at just over £1 a copy, you’d be able to charge a competitive price, and supply just about any retailer.
So however tempting, don’t just go for the publishing option that requires the least effort. You could pay dearly for your decision. I know authors who have gone with one of the major print on demand publishers, and are now wondering why they can’t get their book into Waterstones. Remember that most retailers will expect at least a 50% discount off the cover price – so if your book sells for £10, the retailer will expect to buy it from you for £5. If you’ve paid £1 to print it, then that’s fine. But if you’re paying £5.46 to print it, then you’ll want to turn down the sale, or be forced to increase the cover price of your book …