Hi Indies! It’s been a long time since I’ve been able to contribute to the “Dear Indie” resources, but I’ve recently had two brand new experiences in the self-publishing journey that I’d really like to share with you. Since there’s a lot to cover, I’ll have to break them up into their own posts. Today, I’d like to start with the most exciting:
Going to Print!
There are plenty of words to describe the feeling of holding your own book in your hands for the first time, but in short: I highly recommend experiencing it for yourself at least once! For us Indies, going to print means submitting our books to one of the well known Print-On-Demand (POD) Platforms such as CreateSpace or IngramSpark. I admit, I thought the entire process was going to be a lot more daunting. If you’re like me and visit Goodreads regularly, then I’m sure you’ve seen the many topics discussing printing mishaps, order delays, etc. It can be off-putting, to say the least. And, depending on how you decide to get your book to print, it can be yet another expense. Let’s look at that first, before looking at the platform options…
DIY vs. Professional
Since my first printed book was one that I’d already had a custom eBook cover made for by Deranged Doctor Design, they were able to render the print cover alongside it for a very small fee ($40). My first printed book is a box set – that’s not always going to be the case, and may not ever be the case for you. Even so, the total cost was under $200, which included the transparent 3-D render, 3-D Amazon render, eBook cover, Print cover, and a variety of Facebook and Twitter banners for “Coming Soon” or “Available Now” – I’m telling you, these book cover artists kick ass! 😉
If you’re considering DIY’ng your cover by using a POD’s ‘cover creator’ interface, be aware that the stock photo must be a certain size (dpi). So, if you already have the photo and it’s too small, you’re either going to have to purchase it again at the larger dpi or find a different one. I’m facing this exact problem with the current eBook cover for Collar Me Foxy, because I made it myself with a smaller dpi stock photo. On the bright side, now none of you will need to make the same mistake! LOL
Having your print cover created by a professional also gives you more creative options for the WHOLE cover, rather than just the front. The cover creator interfaces are limited and I’m not sure they allow you to add stock photos or other creative embellishments to the back cover or spine. But, since I’ve never used that feature, don’t quote me on that – do a little research first, before deciding which way you want to go.
An Indie friend of mine is currently taking the DIY route for the Interior Layout Formatting portion of her first printed book and I can’t wait to hear about her experience.
I chose to have my cover artists tackle the interior layout formatting for both my print and eBook version of the Collection – even though I’d done all of my own interior layout formatting for the individual novellas. Like many things we do along the way, there are often pros & cons:
• On the pro side, having DDD handle the interior formatting saved me a ton of time and since I don’t currently have Microsoft Office, it also saved me the headache of not having any compatible software for the free offered templates. If you do have MS, both CreateSpace and Derek Murphy (DIY Book Cover extraordinaire) offer a ton of free interior layout formatting templates that you can use to design the interior of your books – I do believe Derek’s are for both eBook and Print. I wouldn’t be surprised if you could find even more free templates merely by plugging that into your preferred search engine and looking around.
• The con side, is that you can’t make any changes after a professional has created those files for you – so if you notice a typo too late – it’s just too late. You can’t open the file on your own computer and make any necessary changes. My designer gave me that warning ahead of time – as a professional should. So, be aware and make absolute certain that you’re giving them the cleanest, most polished version of your book. I don’t know about IngramSpark, but during the process of uploading a book to CreateSpace, they gave me a list of steps to take to ensure my book was awesome. I bypassed it, simply because this is a collection of already professionally edited, proofread and published books.
If your book hasn’t already been published as an eBook, Createspace offers to convert your printed files into eBook ready files and send it directly to KDP for you. This might be a great advantage if you’re planning to print prior to eBook – POD’s don’t allow you to publish for Pre-Orders, but you could print while your eBook is pre-order to rack up those Amazon reviews in advance!
My results: Having both the cover and the interior layout formatting done by a professional, I didn’t have 1 single error or print issue. My book turned out perfect inside and out and beautiful to boot! The colors appear a tad darker than in the electronic file, so that may be something to keep in mind if you already have dark colors for your cover.
The specs I chose were as follows:
Trim size: 5.5″ x 8.5″
Cover: Glossy (matte should be reserved for pastel colors, IMO)
Bleed: Stop before end of page (also known as No Bleed) – I learned that Bleed is for picture books, which allows illustrations to reach all corners and edges of the page, rather than having a white border.
Note: Be 100% sure on your specs when you order your print cover and make sure they match the specs you choose when uploading your files to the POD, otherwise you may have problems – however, I used an online page count calculator that ended up being 100 pages off and my cover still fit perfectly – my designers are either awesome or we lucked out!
As you can see in this comparison photo, the trim size makes for a larger than average paperback book. Since it’s a collection with approximately 436 pages, this was the perfect size, as anything smaller would’ve made for a very thick book which may have been difficult to hold comfortably. However, if you’re printing a rather short novella, you may want to opt for smaller trim sizes so your book doesn’t come out as thin as a magazine.
My success with going professional is not to say this can’t also be accomplished by going DIY – I’ve seen positive stories on GR, too, not just negative. Everything we do, merely gives us more experience and broadens our knowledge of the industry as a whole. I plan to attempt going the DIY route in the future, so will undoubtedly revisit this topic to discuss that avenue further. Now, let’s look at our platform options…
CreateSpace vs. IngramSpark
I chose to use CS, not just because my eBooks are already enrolled in the KDP Select program, but mostly because it’s free and I spent time asking people I know and trust their opinions/experience with using that platform, which were positive.
After doing a bit of research, the most helpful article I found to show the differences between these two platforms can be found right here, it’s very succinct.
It seems that CreateSpace is in the lead simply by being faster, cheaper and more customer-friendly.
Their biggest downside: they don’t offer Hardbacks with dust covers, and IngramSpark does. In the CS community forums, the Ingram affiliated Lightning Source seems to be a popular choice for ordering just Hardbacks. Bookbaby and Nookpress were also noted. I would be leery about getting involved with anything related to Barnes & Noble ever since they shut down their European markets and became a U.S. presence only, but perhaps with just the hardbacks, your book’s range isn’t an issue? Again, do your research to find out which you’d want to try (if any).
Note: I realize I left a third contender out of this entire post – Amazon’s new beta print platform done through Kindle Direct Publishing, itself – that’s because I simply don’t have enough information about it yet, and most of the feedback I’ve seen on Goodreads is negative. If you have any insight on this platform, please share it with us in the comments below!
♥ That’s it, Indies, I hope you find this post helpful for your publishing goals! Next time, I’m going to cover my first experience with ordering Swag. 😀