Saturday, 2 May 2015

Does Print on Demand Cost a Lot of Money?

I had an email last week from a talented writer, named Beatrice Hale.

Beatrice attended a session a friend and I ran on self-publishing, and since then has published her first fiction novel, a real boy's own adventure, about flying and airships. It's based on a real-life story. Her illustrator is Kura Carpenter, the very talented artist I've used before.
Ice Escape from

Beatrice has uploaded her first e-book online, very exciting, and was asking 'What about Print on Demand. Do I have to pay for the kindle formatting services?'

Because this is a fairly common question, I have posted my answer to her here. 

"Hi Beatrice

Congratulations on your book! Kura is great, isn't she? 

CreateSpace will produce an excellent product. Regarding paying for CS formatting and uploading services, you don't need to use their paid services unless you want to. You can upload a pre-formatted document to CreateSpace at no charge. I did use their formatting services for Inner Fire, partly to see what they were like and partly because it was all new, but at $249.00 US I thought it was a bit pricey. But the end result was very good. However, since doing Inner Fire I've produced two more books and I've just used my own self-generated template, and uploaded my own document to CS with no difficulty. 

CS can work with both doc or pdf templates now, which is quite good. But if you don't feel comfortable with word or pdf then you can pay a professional to format into a create-space ready format for you, or you can purchase a template from something like the Book Designer. These templates aren't that expensive, although they're in US dollars, so the prices do vary a little depending on the exchange rate.

I've got here an article on my blog which may be helpful:  and also I have some handy links on my pinterest board: to various companies who can assist you.

My suggestion would be if you are planning on doing several more novels use the CS services (bite the bullet, recognise you won't get your money back) just so you figure out what to do for next time. However, if you're short of cash or don't plan on doing any more books, you might be better just to use ebooklaunch or the BookDesigner to format for you. There's another company I've heard of to, called Author's HQ , which is also supposed to be very good and that might be a solution for you too.

CS are very very helpful. If you have any questions at all you can email and they respond usually overnight. They are always polite (excessively so, sometimes!) and usually they answer your question comprehensively. If you get stuck you can phone too, but of course charges apply. If you do use their paid services for formatting and so on, then they offer quite good phone support and I found this helpful. The good thing about CS is the cost of their books, even by the time you pay for the shipping, is generally quite cost-competitive - cheaper than you can print in NZ, unless you're doing a larger run - and also you can ship internationally via the CS system which is a lot, lot cheaper than international shipping rates from NZ. The downside of CS is the delay on shipping. And they don't pay you until you make $100 USD. 

I use CS mainly for promotional books to avoid the cost of shipping, and also to offer purchasers an alternative, as some people like to read print. 

Two things to be aware of if you use the CS formatting service: Their formats are double-sided (i.e. two pages to one sheet) and their formatting is copyrighted to CS. This means you can't take the proof to a NZ printer and get it made up here for local sales. And secondly, any changes made after the proof completed cost you money. This means if you find an error you have to pay to get it changed. If, like me, you can't resist tweaking a novel, this can be extremely pricey. (this is the main reason I do it myself!!)

Oh yes, one other thing about CS is look at the distribution options quite carefully. What I do is to use a NZ ISBN for CS distribution only at a lower price point (around 9.99), and a CS ISBN for extended distribution (around $15.99). This is so I can reach both extended and web market places. I don't know if its really worth doing this, but I figured it can't hurt and there's no charge to produce two books with different ISBNs and the same cover and title. A lot of self-pub people recommend this because they say it increases the traction into the extended marketplace.

Anyway, good luck. Sorry this email is so long and best of luck for your first print book! "