Designing and Selling Your Book
It's been a few weeks since my last blog post (sorry!). If you haven't read my previous posts, I have a chronic illness and there are some days and weeks where I just can't handle as much. I'm working on giving myself grace and prioritizing my health when that happens, so I really appreciate your patience!
The week, I would like to share about the most popular ways to design, distribute, and sell your book! The most common question you have asked me is: "What is the best way to design and sell my book online?" I have good news for you! There are several great ways to do this! I'm going to talk about the pros and cons of the three most popular self-publishing services below.
Print-On-Demand or Bulk Printing?
The very first thing you need to decide is whether you'd like to use a print-on-demand service (POD) or bulk printing services for your book. Most self-published authors opt for print-on-demand and here's why:
- What is "Print-On-Demand?" This means that your book is not printed until an order is received. The biggest benefit of POD services is that there is no monetary risk involved! You don't have to spend money on hundreds of books ahead of time and hope that they all sell. It's very convenient, and there are many easy-to-use POD services available online (keep reading to learn about them).
- What is Bulk Printing? This involves printing large quantities of your book before any copies have been ordered. The biggest benefit to this method is that you make more money per book. Why? Well, for one, most printers give you a large discount for ordering in bulk. The biggest reason, however, is that POD services take royalties from book order. Of course, the downside to bulk printing is that you have to personally ship each book that is ordered. However, this also allows you to sign your books and include notes, gift wrapping or promotional materials if you'd like. :)
Top Print-On-Demand Services of 2018
As self-publishing is becoming more popular, there are new POD services popping up all the time! However, these are the three most popular POD services that I'm aware of:
This is Amazon.com's self-publishing service, and I have heard many authors say wonderful things about it. Here are the biggest pros and cons in my opinion:
- PRO - Easy, free book design resources: CreateSpace has their own online software that will help you build the pages of your book! Preview their cover art and interior pages software.
- PRO - Royalties are relatively high compared to other POD services: You are paid a royalty of 40% on the main Amazon.com listing and that is even higher (around 75%) if you transfer the book to Kindle. You can calculate the estimated royalties earned per book purchase on this page.
- CON - No hardcover books. This was a big con for me when I was looking into POD services because I wanted my book to be a sturdy picture book for young children. Another POD service called Ingram Spark (see below) offers hardcover books as an option.
- CON - It will be more difficult to get your book into other bookstores. You may think that having your book on Amazon means you will automatically get lots of sales, but Amazon is currently very saturated with self-published books! Unfortunately, that means that 1) you will need to market your book and 2) you will likely want to distribute/sell your book elsewhere as well.
Blurb.com is the service I used to self-publish my first round of books, and honestly, it was a great experience that I highly recommend! Blurb actually offers POD and Bulk Printing services (what I used).
- PRO - Easy, free book design resources: One reason I chose Blurb is that they offer bookmaking resources for designers and non-designers alike. If you are comfortable using Adobe InDesign, they have an InDesign plugin that makes uploading your book easy. However, they also have free book design software for folks without design experience. Check out their book design resources here.
- PRO - Amazing customer service! I can speak from experience on this because I asked SO many questions while I was formatting and figuring out how to distribute my book. I even asked my customer service rep about taxes at once point LOL!! He was so nice and helpful the entire time, and always responded to my e-mails within 24 hours!
- PRO - So. Many. Options. As I mentioned above, I love that Blurb partners with so many other online platforms. They can print your books and help you sell on every platform (Amazon, IngramSpark, and Kickstarter included).
- PRO: Wonderful print quality: I can't speak for other Blurb authors, of course, but the books I got from Blurb were higher quality than any of the proofs I ordered from CreateSpace, IngramSpark, BookBaby, etc. Plus, they offer hardcover books.
If you feel somewhat competent in your book layout skills and are looking for a POD service that produces similar results to Amazon CreateSpace, but is 1) better at distribution and 2) offers hardcover books, IngramSpark is a great option to go with. I carefully considered this option myself.
- PRO - Great quality at lower costs: Ingram Spark's color printing costs far less than Amazon CreateSpace - and their books have a slightly higher-quality finish, in my opinion.
- PRO - Better at distribution: While CreateSpace is great for those who want to sell on Amazon, IngramSpark is better at selling your book on multiple platforms, while still giving you decent book royalties (not so for CreateSpace).
- PRO - Hardcover books! If you are making a full-color, hardcover children's book, IngramSpark will give you just that (CreateSpace doesn't offer hardcover).
- CON - Not as user-friendly: IngramSpark is better for self-publishers who feel fairly confident in their book layout abilities. While CreateSpace and Blurb offer free book design software, IngramSpark offers a 35-page file creation guide.
SO, What Are YOUR Needs?
If you can't tell from reading the lists above, there isn't a "right" or "wrong" answer to self-publishing, so much as there is a "right or wrong for me" solution.
People often asked me what I did, but I am a Graphic Designer who is already skilled in Adobe InDesign. I opted for Blurb because their color printing is the highest quality (in my opinion), they offer hardcover books, they partner with Kickstarter (I used a crowdsourcing campaign to promote and launch my book), and their customer service was willing to answer all of my "dumb" questions and hold my hand through the process!! LOL.
So, instead of asking yourself which service is best, try asking yourself what your specific self-publishing needs are, and build a checklist from there. Also, remember that I have only discussed three of the most popular POD options out there! Here are a few others you may want to explore:
What Do I Use Now?
If you're curious about how I print and sell my books now, I started using a local printer in New York City to print "Animals Under the Bed!" back in September. I found that ordering my books in bulk from them provides the best color and printing quality for my artwork, and I enjoy being able to personally sign and ship each book to my customers. This may change in the future, but for now it has been a joy!
As always, I hope this has been helpful for you!! Don't hesitate to ask questions in the comments below. I love hearing from you guys and I am happy to help in any way I can.
Hope you're having a wonderful week!