I seem to have jumped through all the hoops to get a proof copy of “My Grandma Mary” printed by Lightning Source! I got an email today confirming the order from last week. The holiday has slowed things down but if I understand how it works, I should have the proof copy in my hand this week! I’m really excited to see it. If everything looks good than I will make it available for sell asap. My mom is usually really patient about histories but on this one she asks me about it every time I talk to her. It has taken a long time to get to this point. I’ve learned so much. But I’m sure there is a lot more to learn.
One thing I’ve realized is I’m glad there are places like Blurb and places like Lightning Source. Even though they are both print on demand companies their business models and target customers are completely different. I can see that I’ll be using both companies in the future depending on the project. For small runs, Blurb is a better choice. For books with a larger audience Lightning Source can be the better choice. While Blurb has a higher price per book they have no set up costs and no on going cost to keep the book available to print. While LSI has a much cheaper price per book they set up cost of about $100 mean you have to order at least a certain number of books to make it more cost-effective than Blurb. In the case of “My Grandma Mary” you have to order at least 5 copies to make LSI a more cost-effective option.
I’m still waiting to see how the quality of Lightning Source compares to Blurb.
So you have decided that your story project will be a book and you’re really excited about it and ready to take the next step. Pause for just a moment and think about how you are going to publish your finished book. There are more options for publishing a book than ever before. Here are the main ones that I can think of:
traditional – usually one place for printing another for binding
print on demand – on-line
local copy center
self printing from your computer with your printer
Each option has advantages and disadvantages and each one has requirements that you will want to keep in mind as you begin your story project. One of the most important reasons to decide which route you are taking is so that you will know what size and file format requirements your choice will have so you don’t end up with some unexpected glitch near the end of your story project. I won’t go into great detail here on each one but just give some of the pros and cons of each option.
I don’t have direct personal experience with using a traditional printer but I’ve some indirect knowledge and what I learned in college. If you are wanting to print a large number of books upfront it is an option that should be considered. My books so far have a very limited audience so this hasn’t been a consideration. It might be an option for “My Grandma Mary” in the near future.
This is a great option for most story project books. There are lots of print on demand companies. My favorite is Blurb, but I haven’t tried all of them. The quality varies and the options vary from company to company so check around and find one that fits your needs and understand the size and format requirements. Print on demand sites are not flexible on how your files are uploaded to their servers.
Depending on your story project the local copy center might be a good alternative if you are doing a project in a standard letter-size format and are happy with the binding options they have. Don’t assume that this will be you.
quick turn around
lower quality binding options
variability in knowledge, quality and cost
This is how I did the first few books I published for my family. It was a good way for me to get started but between the cost of the ink and the number of hours I spent baby sitting my printer I wouldn’t do it again unless it is for a project which is small in the number of pages and the number of books. A neighbor has told me about retrofitting his printer with a continuous ink supply system that I’m anxious to hear more about. It cuts the cost of printing from home dramatically. I’ll let you know when I learn more about it.
not usually cost-effective
There is no single printing option that is right for all story project books. So look at each project and pick the option that makes the best sense for that story project. Just make sure that you look at the options at the earliest stages of the story project.
What printing options have you used in the past? Do you have any words of advice for others?