Wednesday, October 31, 2012

This is how I do print on demand (in the Philippines)

Even though ebooks account for most of my sales, I still get requests for paperback versions. There are people who just prefer it, and who am I to turn away a willing reader just because I didn't have a print copy of my book?

A company called Books On Demand has been printing the Philippine editions of my self-published books (they're the tiny paperbacks I started selling in November 2011, in case you have one in your possession right now). Prior to discovering them I was using CreateSpace, which is great too, except they were printing the books out of the US and I was spending a lot on shipping. Books On Demand is just in Ortigas! So so cool. (Update: I also work with Marikina-based JMD Copy Print! Their phone number is 919-3283 and they also print one copy minimum.)

Anyway, I just had a nice conversation with them today, and I think I should maybe post some of the questions I often get about how we work together. Because we think some people don't yet realize how easy and affordable it all is.

What does one need to do to get their book printed?

Prepare your book the way you want to see it laid out in print. They have some guidelines, which you can request, and they'll accept your PDF file. Send also your front cover, back cover, and spine images.

What I do: My books are simple and usually just text (with some illustrations), so I just send a layout done in Word and saved as PDF. Could it look better? Of course, but I do it this way to keep my costs low. So far my layout costs are zero. My covers are done by more artistic people, so I just get a hi-res JPG of them and email them over.

How many copies do they require an author to order and buy?

One copy.

Of course, it'll be an expensive single copy if you decide to do that, because they have to put some work into making sure your book looks good. As with most things that scale, the price per copy goes down the more copies you order.

What I do: I take pre-orders, and accept payment prior to delivery. This way my first order is always way more than 1 copy, so I can negotiate for a lower per-copy rate. And I don't end up paying for excess copies out of my own savings, nor do I have zillions of copies lying around waiting to be bought. I tried that and don't really have the space to keep that going.

How much does it cost to print a book?

My books are small, an estimated 4.25 x 6.75 in, and rarely go over 150 pages. I'm able to sell them at P300 apiece, which means it costs less than that to produce them.

I must mention that I don't make a lot of money from selling them at P300, so the markup isn't that huge. I've also started giving away the profit by offering cupcakes to the people who buy this edition. But it's not about profit anyway. (Business experts, don't yell at me.)

If the book isn't in the best shape yet, will they help out?

Books On Demand can help with the editing, layout, cover design and even the publishing legwork (getting an ISBN etc) for a fee. I don't use these services myself, but I've seen them do this for other client authors.

Can they ship a book order directly to the buyer?

Yes they can.

What I do: I tend to pick up the books myself, from their office in Ortigas, because I usually offer to sign the paperbacks ordered directly from me. They've offered to do the shipping for me and I'd actually recommend it. Shipping in many cases costs less than setting up a meetup, and more practical when the buyer is in a province or faraway city.

What kinds of books do they print?

A wide range of stuff. The thing to remember is that if it's a conventional enough book, then they can print it. You're in effect hiring them to print your book, instead of submitting a book for their approval. You're in charge.

So yeah, this is how I do it. This means I don't have that many copies of my own books at home anymore. When someone places an order, I just send off an email to Books On Demand and tell them to print my book. Sometimes they print five books at a time for me, sometimes just one. And then I pick it up, ship it to the buyer. And maybe buy cupcakes.

It's not that difficult. Writing the book, that's what's difficult. So go do that, and then get your paperback already.

(PS. Are they paying you to talk about them? They sometimes sponsor our Author at Once workshops, but no I don't personally receive anything to talk about them. Just a happy customer.)

26 comments:

  1. Thank you Thank you Thank you for your concern to people like me. I have always wanted my book published but I had no idea how. Some say it would cost a lot. I hope someday, I'm going to be just like you and make my family proud.

    By the way, my name is also Mina ;)

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  2. Ma'am, sa tingin nyo po, ganu kaya kalaki yung magagastos ko sa pagkuha ng IBSN thru BOD? :)

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  3. ONLY 100 OR 200. You only send a copy of the cover, title page, copyright page and the ISBN application form at the National Library

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  4. Hi Ms. Mina.

    Thanks for this info. It will help a lot as I am also planning to publish my first book this year.

    I have a question: What is the assurance that BOD will not sell books without the authors' knowledge? Are there contracts or any legal protection that will prevent that from happening? (I am sorry if I sound skeptic on my very first question, but it's a reality question I believe.)

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    1. Hello! Good question, and it doesn't need to be specific with BOD. Any printer you work with might end up doing this. Personally though I haven't had a problem with it, but you should bring it up anyway with anyone you work with. They'll need to spend resources to print a book and sell it though, and it's probably the main thing that'll keep them from doing this to you or anyone else.

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  5. Hi! In reference to Stan's question, there really is always that risk of the printer/publisher selling your work without your knowledge. They have just as much freedom as the author to accept advance orders or advance payment just enough to cover their printing cost. They may offer it to bookstores or other company's by direct email and the author may not even know it. he printer/publisher may in effect be receiving more orders than the author because usually people contact the publisher and not the author. There has to be a way to legally protect the author from being by-passed by the printer/publisher in terms of selling. This is something to think about. Thank you.

    ACW

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    1. ACW, hello!

      I guess if it's about legal means, then if you do catch your printer infringing on your rights like this, you will be able to take action -- because they won't have a piece of paper that you signed telling them they can distribute the work.

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  6. Hi! I just want to ask how much will my book cost. Including the printing fee and the shipping fee. I'm from the province by the way. I have at least 160 pages (acc. to 6x9 standard). Thanks.

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    1. You will need to call them! I'm not affiliated with them so I can't give you a costing myself.

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  7. I wanna ask if they offer editing, grammatically? Do they? :) Of course, when you choose them to publish your book. Thanks :)

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  8. Hi. I just wanna ask if they offer editing, grammatically? Do they?

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    1. Hello! They're really just a printer but if you need editing they can refer you to editors muna before they print.

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  9. Hello. Kailangan po ba ng ISBN bago nila i-print yung book mo? Thanks! God Bless!

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  10. Hi po! I just want to ask kung nag-accept sila ng isang book lang angipiprint. Bale gusto ko lang pong ipaprint yung story ko para may collection ako. Thank you po.

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  11. Hi. What if you are not near mandaluyong to pick up your books for selling, will they deliver it?

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    1. Yes, you can pay for them to ship the books to you

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  12. tanong ko lang po pwedi na po ba e-market yung book na gawa ko kahit di pa ito na eregester sa IPO o kaya naman kahit wala itong ISBN?

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  13. Thanks for the article. Interesting. This seems a great idea for printing just a few books, but at what point is it more economical to use traditional printers? If I wanted 50 copies of my book published, is booksondemand still going to be cheaper than a traditional printer? I'm basically wanting to sell copies of my book at seminars and don't want to have to store 100s of copies of my book.

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    1. Traditional printers have already set their ideal number and it will probably be 300 and up. But print on demand to me is about printing without waste and expensive upfront costs. If you're selling at seminars, you'll be able to set a price for your book and know how many people are likely to buy it. If you can reasonably sell hundreds in a short amount of time, then trad printing is better option

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  14. Hi Mina! Is there any legal implication if a book is sold without being taxed? I suppose this would be the scenario if I choose to take the BOD route.

    I appreciate this article :)

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    1. Hello! Not an expert (please get an expert's opinion) but if you're doing this as a business then there are guidelines that exist covering what businesses are required to do. Like selling any product I think.

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    2. Hi Mina. This is really a very helpful post. Just to follow-up on this question. May I know how you personally handle the tax issue with the books you sell?

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    3. Hello! Since 2014 my print books have been sold through a publisher that does its own paperwork on that. I also have a registered corporation and an accountant on retainer for the corporation. (If you need advice that's specific to your situation you'll need to consult with someone you can share your specifics to.)

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  15. Thank you Mina! This has been very helpful. Sending my regards from misspsychobabble.blogspot.com! :)

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