Print on demand companies offer a great approach at publishing fiction books, especially in this day and age. Unlike the traditional book publisher's way of making you order a lot of books on the first printing (usually a thousand), you can order them one at a time, eliminating warehousing, inventory, and a lot of middlemen. In other words, the book is printed shortly after it is purchased, a process otherwise known as "on demand" printing.
This state of the art method of instantly producing books saves time, a lot of money, and is very safe for the environment. It is more economical for both the buyer and the seller, even though the price per book may be a little higher than bulk purchasing books when they are published.
In the past, on-demand printing was never even thought of because of the way the printing press was made. A master template of a book was made and the process of duplicating and binding a book was very time consuming and cumbersome. They wanted to print as many books at one time as they could in one session so they didn't have to keep changing templates all day long.
Now this process has gone digital and all that is needed is a couple of electronic files (the book cover and the book file) and a combination duplicator/binder an eighth of the size of an old printing press.
Nowadays, the process of printing is done with laser precision and with digital computer technology. No more expensive templates and no more need for mass production! The operator calls up the files for your book (that you can format and upload into their publishing program), clicks the specifications, and pushes the print button. In a few minutes, you have a fully published hard copy book awaiting shipment.
If you are like most writers just starting out in the publishing world, you probably have very little in the form of a writing budget. The process of printing after a person buys is the savior for writers, publishers, and book sellers all around the globe.
With print on demand companies, there's no more warehousing your books until someone purchases them. No more advanced order publishing. Ultimately, there is no more wasting of your writing budget printing copies of your books.
What if you want to change the edition or revise your book? Most publishers won't let you until their contract has expired between the two of you. With print on demand companies, where you are the true self-publisher, it is as simple as revising your electronic book file, resubmitting it to the company printing your books, and all future copies of your book will be printed as the new addition. With this alone, you can save thousands of dollars in losses due to excess old revisions or changing a template.
Some of the so-called "self-publishing" companies, which are really vanity presses, charge you for their publishing service, whether they are publishers or claim to be print on demand companies. They call it "charging you for using their service" which is simply putting you in contact with the right people to get your book in print. If you ask me, you should never out right have to pay for print on demand service, but that's just me.
The real self-publishing systems out there that utilize print on demand companies don't usually charge any up front fees for their service. In fact, To stay in business, they must charge, but it is in the form of commissions generated by each sale on the back end where you don't even personally see it. They are paid by the person who buys your book.
1. You submit the final draft of your book to a company that offers on demand printing in the format you want it to look like as it is printed. This is where knowing how to format your book into a standard book format comes into play. A book copyright will be added to your book automatically by the company.
2. You upload your front and back cover images to their computer server. This will be the final design and ready print image preferably in 300dpi high quality .jpg format.
3. Some companies also allow you to add an introduction for your story, choose a genre, and enter various other aspects of your book. This is usually done if you will receive a shopping area with your publishing contract where people can purchase your book directly from the publisher.
4. The company verifies all of your files are correct. This process is sometimes done automatically by checking that your page sizes match for the type of book you choose to publish (e.g. hardcover, softcover, or electronic). Once verified, all of your book's components are added to their computer system in a publishing account for you.
5. Depending on the company, your book is completely published at this point. At this point you should proof your book, or buy one to see how it looks. You should always order at least one copy of your book from print on demand companies before releasing it to the public to ensure it looks the way you want it to in print. This is called a "proof". If it doesn't look the way you want it to, you can always resubmit the files after making the adjustments.
You can make all of the changes you want up until you verify your proof. After your book is published, most print on demand companies allow you to make minor changes (revisions) to your book and update it any time you like. Some do not.
Your fiction book, if it is published as a hardcover or softcover, will be assigned an ISBN number from the company allowing you to use their services. Making a small revision will not affect this number, however, major changes will cause the ISBN to change.
6. Someone orders your book, either using the ISBN number or the information you give them to place the order.
7. The publisher receives the order and forwards the order to the printing and distribution partner company (unless of course they print and distribute it themselves). Your royalties are added to your account and paid to you in accordance with their payout terms. The printing company is paid and the publisher takes their commissions (the only self-publishing cost of publishing your book, which you never have to worry about since this is all done for you).
8. An operator sets up and accesses your file in their computer system and ensures the formatting is correct. If everything is good, the operator presses the print button on the large printer/binder system and prints a perfect copy of your book.
9. Your book is printed and bound in a matter of minutes, 5 to 20 minutes depending on size, shape, and color.
10. Your printed book is sent to the out-processing and distribution department where it is properly packaged and addressed to the buyer.
11. Your book is sent directly from the print on demand companies to the customer, keeping you out of the distribution loop too (if you choose not to be involved with it).
Above is a brief description of the print on demand process; the actual process is much more in depth than this, but just as simple.
This entire process, from the time you actually publish your book using a on-demand printing company until the customer receives a book takes about ten days (give or take a few). So much for eight months or so that it takes a publishing company to get your book into print.
Speed is crucial when you are publishing your book - you want to get your book on the market as soon as possible while you are excited and motivated so it can start working for you. Print on demand is definitely the way to go to ensure your book is ready to market fast.
NOTE: Be aware that some "self-publishers" claim they publish with on-demand printing but still take up to 8 weeks to process and publish your book for final print. These are the ones that charge you up to a couple thousand dollars to publish your book for you while you claim all rights. Unless they are formatting the book for you, try to avoid these types of publishers also known as "vanity publishers". If you are totally self-publishing, you should have no delay once you complete uploading all the parts to your book.
So, where do you go to find the best on demand printing companies? In my quest to save time and money during the publishing process, I found the best publishers offering print on demand access for independent publishers (writers who publish their own work) that doesn't cost you anything up front.
The best print on demand companies that I've found and the main one I personally use for all of my hard copy and kindle format publishing is listed on this page. Just because it is free to use doesn't mean they don't produce the same great quality book as the leading publishers.
Lulu.com is the first true self-publishing company I found. I published my fiction novels through them as well as some of my first how-to book publications. They don't cost a penny unless you want specialized services and produce a pretty good quality book. I didn't quite like the book size choice, but it worked for my books. Great choice for any type of author. You can publish any type of book through Lulu.com. Book cost is a little higher than the rest.
CreateSpace from Amazon is my current self-publishing company. Unlike most other print on demand companies, this one is directly related to Amazon, it is easy to get your books are listed in Amazon marketplaces. Their publishing interface is easy to use and doesn't cost you a penny. I seem to sell more books through Createspace using Amazon and the KDP platform and the quality of books printed through them are great.
The best pricing you will find of all of the print on demand companies I researched is Ingramspark. It is not as well known as the others, but their unique process shortens the time from order to bookshelf. The printing costs, also taken out at the time of purchase, is what is paid for your publishing, and a small set up fee of $45.00 per title.
You can have your fiction novel, short story, poems, and other fiction works published in a matter of hours with little to no upfront or hidden fees or charges!
Even if you are a published writer, you may have noticed by now that your book's income is not quite what you had expected! In fact, most people that pay to publish their book don't ever make it out of the red (they never break a profit). How discouraging is that for them and new authors looking in at how it is going for the other author?
If you have questions about the print on demand companies I've mentioned, please let me know. I may be able to help you choose the right one for your needs.