Printing the Book
We’ve now gone through the manuscript for our new book at least 17 times and our friend George has reviewed it twice. Marcie and I went through it, cover to cover, one last time yesterday, and amazingly, still found a few corrections that were needed. There were a couple of grammatical errors, some punctuation errors and a few sentences that needed rewording. Hopefully, we didn’t introduce any new errors in the correction process. At any rate, we’re calling it done and are finally ready to send it off to be printed.
We have several options at this point. If we were famous writers and our book had the potential of selling thousands if not millions of copies, we’d find an agent and a publishing company and hand it over – then Marcie would clear her schedule for the book signing tour. I’m pretty certain we can rule this alternative out.
The next option is to self-publish the book and have somewhere between a few dozen and a few hundred copies of our book printed up. We’d then have to market it on our website and via the other social media avenues. We’d also do the order fulfillment – box, label and ship the book, and, oh yeah, collect the payment. I’m optimistic that the process can be streamlined so that it would only take a few minutes for each order, but someone has to be around to do it. And while the per-book profit might be higher than the other options, the overall market exposure will be much less, resulting in far fewer book sales.
The best option, in our opinion, is to use one of the ‘Print-on-Demand’ (POD) services. Once the book design is done and uploaded, these POD services take the orders, print the books as needed, and ship them out, paying us a royalty on each one. This option doesn’t require upfront cash to print several boxes of books which may or may not sell, and if ever we want to release a new edition, it can be done at any time without worrying about the existing stock.
The POD service we use is Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP). They provide all the tools necessary to transform the manuscript into a printed book and then make it available on Amazon. They take care of all the details and send us a royalty check once a quarter (it’s actually a direct deposit to our bank account). They provide lots of marketing advice and reports that allow us to track our sales.
Here are the steps to get a book from the manuscript stage to a printed paperback using KDP:
Export the manuscript in PDF form
Most word processors have the ability to export the file as a PDF file. In LibreOffice, the PDF export feature allows us to set several output parameters – the two most important being how much compression to use and whether to export blank pages. For our print book, we want high resolution images, so the output should be set to ‘Lossless Compression’ and image resolution should be 300 DPI. Also, check the box for ‘Export automatically inserted blank pages’. Everything else can be left unchecked. Then export the file.
Create a KDP account
Go to the KDP website and sign up for an account. Once you create a user name and password, you will need to enter payment and tax information – how you want to get paid and your SSN or Tax ID number so that Kindle can let the IRS know how much money you earned.
Enter book information
Next, you’ll select the type of book you are creating – eBook or Printed. In this case, we’re making a print book, so click the Paperback box. The Kindle software will lead you through the process of entering information like title, author, and description. KDP offers all kinds of tips and tutorials to help you along the way.
Your book will need an International Standard Book Number or ISBN, which is a unique, 13 digit identifier for the book. KDP will provide one, free of charge, or you can buy one elsewhere and use it for your new book. If you choose the free KDP ISBN, you can only sell your book via Amazon, however. The cost of buying your own ISBN is $125, or you can buy ten for $295. You will also need to buy the barcode. We use the free KDP ISBN.
KDP next lets you determine the printing options: book size, color vs. b/w, paper type, cover finish, etc. Again, lots of help and explanations are provided.
Upload the manuscript
Now’s the time to upload the PDF file you exported earlier. Click on the ‘Upload paperback manuscript’ button, find the manuscript file on your computer and click ‘Open’. Once the file is uploaded, the “Manuscript uploaded successfully” message will appear.
Upload or create the cover
KDP gives you the option of designing your own cover or creating one from their template. Last week’s blog talked about the process of creating your own. The maximum file size for the cover is 650MB, but the recommended size is a maximum of 40MB.
Review and Approval
Once everything is uploaded, KDP generates the print image of the book, making a number of quality checks on the cover and manuscript in the process. It then displays a copy of the book exactly as it will look in the printed form. Before continuing, you must approve the book.
Rights and Pricing
The next step is to decide where and for how much you want to sell your book. For most markets, you get 60% of the purchase price, less the printing costs as royalty. That sounds like a lot, but for a book printed in color, the printing costs are high, so the retail price has to be pretty steep to generate much of a royalty.
You may want to order a proof copy or two before your book becomes available to the public. Once you’ve reviewed it, press the ‘Publish’ button and it’s headed for the presses. Actually, it takes a day or two before it can actually be ordered.
Hurrah – it’s done! Pop the bubbly and celebrate.
Well almost. Next week, we’ll finish this long series with one more blog, devoted to publishing the eBook version of our great new manuscript.