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Monday, October 5, 2009

Publishers and Printers

Experts come in every shape and size. Some make you feel like you don't know very much and require their far superior information. Others explain way more than you'd ever want to know and make you wish you had never asked. And then there are the ones that are life-savers and are so helpful that you don't know what you'd do without them. Well, to a self published author a good printer is the life-saver, the one that makes us look good that can tweak, fudge and sends us back the manuscript for layout revisions if need be...or fix it on the spot with their pre-flight genius. (Pre-flight refers to the process a book goes through before it is printed.)

In the early days of my publishing career, I used the local printing shops to print up my books. I brought in a high quality laser copy. The company photo copied the pages. They were bulky, comb bound and I couldn't be more proud if the book had leather cover and gilded lettering. They were mine. I had sweated through the process, worked hard and ultimately finished after many, many setbacks. But, here it was in my hand and ready to be purchased by an eager reader, I was sure. The book retailed for $7.95 and was the first edition of "Teaching Science and Having Fun." My first official book speaking tour began with a conference in the Florida panhandle. I learned through a friend, that I had been chose as a Keynote speaker!

Armed with hundreds of books, the family trekked up the state to sell them. I am glad I listened to my husband and only printed 300. I had many books to trek back home. The conference was very well attended but many came to look and purchase at a later date. Questions came like a flock of geese heading south for the winter:

 "Do you ship?"

"How much does it cost to ship?"

"Do you sell wholesale?"

"How much do you discount?"

Shipping? Wholesale? Discounting? What was all that? All I wanted to do was write a book and publish it not become a one-man storefront. I soon learned the process after much help from very kind people, like the lady who took about 50 books off of my hands to sell, and others who followed suit. The first bit of advice I received was to leave the price off the back cover of the book and raise the price to at least $12.95 so I could wholesale it at 40-50 percent discount. (Wow, that much! Little did I know that other larger wholesalers required 55-60% discount.)

Well, I'm still in business, the book in question now retails for $16.95 and is in it's 5th edition, and was selected as on of the top 100 Homeschool Curriculum. It has been used in Christian schools by educators, in co-ops and right here in my own home. In fact, I'll use it in the morning to reference the best place to purchase slowing agent for our upcoming Biology co-op.

I am especially thankful to my printer, now an offset printing company that prints the books in larger runs. The books are digitized and I can upload them with a click of a button from my computer to the company's website. The book sports a 4-color cover these days and nice quality paper on the inside. This definitely is a much improved version. It really helps to have a printer that can answer questions and works with me on upcoming projects.

I will be interviewing an expert, Mike McCoy who has lots of experience in the field of book printing, both commercial and with self-published authors. He offers personalized service and consultations on projects no matter how large or how small! Remember my husband's advice? Keep that first print-run small unless you have pre-sold books and know how you will discount and ship them! Better to be safe than in debt! Besides, you can always print a larger run the next time.


  1. Thanks for sharing your journey. Beautiful cover too.

  2. I love that cover as well. The graphic artist, David Frantz, designed eight book covers for me. He is a very talented man.