Are you interested in selling print versions of your book but not sure if they’re worth the investment? Do you feel iffy about the logistics of printing books? Good news: print-on-demand companies provide an easy way to print and ship your book without breaking the bank.
What Is Print-on-Demand Publishing (POD)
Instead of printing (and paying for) a ton of books in advance, print-on-demand technology allows you to print a book only after an order has been made. This completely changed the game in the publishing industry, particularly for independent authors and publishers needing a more sustainable and cost-effective way to get their books out in print.
To get started with POD, do you need to know the ins and outs of how to print books? No! Print-on-demand companies handle most of the printing and shipping process for you. When you have to take care of so much in your self-publishing business, using POD services is a no-brainer. Which print-on-demand services should you consider?
Top Print-on-Demand Companies to Know
1. KDP Print
When it comes to print-on-demand companies for books, Amazon’s KDP Print is a leading service. As a self-publisher, you know just how essential Amazon’s marketplace is for selling books online. (In case you’re not aware, Amazon is the world’s largest online retailer – “Books” is its 5th highest-selling category.)
Amazon Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP) integrates print-on-demand with its brick-and-mortar stores in 13 countries. You can set up print-on-demand books on the KDP platform. It’s straightforward and convenient to use, especially for published authors already bringing their ebooks to market via KDP. In terms of royalties, you get 40-60% royalties.
Along with KDP Print, IngramSpark is one of the best print-on-demand publishers to know. IngramSpark is a gigantic book distribution company specializing in print, reaching more than 39,000 online stores. These stores include major bookstores like Barnes & Noble as well as numerous libraries.
To submit your book to IngramSpark, you’ll need two print-ready PDF files. (Most print-on-demand companies require these files, which we go over in detail below.) With IngramSpark, you get 45-70% royalties.
With Blurb, you get a pretty intuitive and comprehensive platform to put your POD book together. However, it is the pricier option. One of their key offerings is photobooks, a great choice for indies selling graphic novels or cookbooks that involve photos and graphics.
Once you upload and create your book on the Blurb platform, the base price is determined by what kind of format you’d like to choose, such as photo, paperback, magazine, and more. You can then set up your book to be purchased on Blurb’s site or Blurb plus other retailers provided by IngramSpark. You can earn 45-64% royalties.
Bookvault is a POD service platform that can help you sell directly on your website with various apps, plugins, and integrations. You also get the option to sell to their distribution networks like Amazon, IngramSpark, Gardners, and The Great British Book Shop. As a UK-based company, Bookvault is a fantastic choice for those targeting the UK book market. Bookvault requires a $23 setup fee. You can earn 40-90% royalties.
BookBaby is the priciest option, with a $399 setup fee. Why so expensive? Well, this option is great for indies looking to order their physical copies in bulk. Also, BookBaby offers a more hands-on support with professionals who will review your book (instead of an automated software). BookBaby’s distribution network includes all of IngramSpark’s stores plus other retailers. When it comes to royalties, you get 45%.
PublishDrive is an online self-publishing platform that gives you access to KDP Print and IngramSpark. Beyond that, the platform helps you sell in markets like China through CNPeReading, where there are literally millions of readers wanting print books.
CNPeReading distributes to JD, a giant retailer capturing 30% of the Chinese market, and Dangdang, which is another prominent bookseller in China, with 30 million monthly visitors to its online store.
Note: Currently, PublishDrive is the only aggregator that can easily get your books to audiences in China.
Set Up Print-on-Demand Books With PublishDrive
It doesn’t take much to publish print-on-demand books and start selling in thousands of channels:
- Sign up for a PublishDrive account.
- Upload your print book files.
- Add print specifics like trim size and binding type.
- Add details like creators, metadata, categories, rights, and retail price.
- Switch on the POD service channels you’d like to reach.
How to Prepare Your Book for Print
When publishing print-on-demand books, you want to make sure your book files are ready to go.
There are two main PDF files to prep:
- Your book cover design that also includes the back cover, spine, and bleed area.
- Your manuscript file that includes all interior pages of your book.
You can provide your print-on-demand books in paperback or hardback. However, paperback books are the most common format with a trim size of 6x9 inches. You can take care of your manuscript formatting in a Word or Google document. You can also create professional page layouts with programs like InDesign or Vellum.
Be sure to follow these main requirements:
- Use CMYK or RGB color spaces
- Save black and white images as gray-scale or single-color black
- Use 300 DPI image resolution (minimum)
- Page size should fit the trim size you set in the metadata
- Add 0.125" (3 mm) bleed to all sides
- Fonts must be embedded in the PDF files
- Exclude crop or trim marks from the final interior
- Margins should be a minimum of 0.5” (13mm) from the final trim size
- All page numbers should be in a logical order, even numbers on the left and odd numbers on the right
For more details, check out these print formatting guidelines.
How Much Does it Cost to Print Your Book?
When you sell your books through a retail channel, you’ll come across book printing costs and book printing services tied to retail margins. Do note that retail prices have a minimum or base price to cover print and distribution fees. Profit margins differ based on the number of pages, color types, and paper types.
When ordering personal copies (like sending the book directly to readers), you’d have to manage the shipping and taxation costs. When it comes to print manufacturing costs, you’d have to cover them. When it comes to distribution, that’s usually deducted from your royalty earnings, which varies store by store, as mentioned above.
Here’s an example of print costs:
- Selling price: $20
- Distribution cost: 50%
- Manufacturing cost: $6 (based on the number of pages, colors or black and white, and trim size)
- Author’s compensation: = 20 * 50% - $6 = $4
Besides the wide reach you can get for your print-on-demand books, here are other perks you’ll have with PublishDrive:
- Simple interface for all book formats: Publish and manage your ebook, audiobook, or print-on-demand books under one roof.
- Print formatting support: PublishDrive automatically tackles all print-related formatting requirements for every store.
- Transparent analytics and sales reports: Track sales in real-time for all stores. Access pre-made sales charts to understand your data.
- Marketing tools: Boost your sales with built-in marketing tools for running price promotions, sending review copies, and more.
- Earn more royalties: PublishDrive doesn’t take any additional royalties. You’ll pay a monthly flat fee. All earned royalties are yours.
- Features for splitting royalties: Automate the process of splitting royalties among co-authors and other collaborators with the Abacus or Team Royalties features.
- Maximize reach: Some PublishDrive indies made 200% more book sales in 2022 by self-publishing internationally – in all book formats and stores possible.