Self-publishing is a process that involves the author coordinating all publishing-related activities, such as editing, typesetting, cover designing, printing and book distribution, that are needed to successfully produce a book and ensure it sells. The author bears the cost of production and decides the rate of royalty, while retaining all rights to the book.
CinnamonTeal provides best-in-class print-on-demand services within India. So what is print-on-demand and why should it concern you?
Print-On-Demand (POD) is printing technology that allows a complete book to be printed and bound in a matter of a few days and makes it possible to produce books in very small quantities (even one or two at a time). Single copies or ultra-short-runs of 10s, 20s, 30s can be produced just as cost-effectively. Per unit, it will cost just the same.
Unless an author is confident of immediate sales at least 400 copies of their book, we typically recommend that they opt for the print-on-demand method. The other option, called offset printing, is very cost-effective for producing a larger number of copies (usually upwards of 500, upwards of 100 if the book is fully in colour), but the cost involved is not always within a new author’s budget. Besides, a new author might not be able to sell a large number of copies immediately after the book is published. The print-on-demand method allows a single copy to be printed after an online order is received, and the cost to print is paid for by the buyer, at the time of purchase. This approach works well, especially if the book is expected to sell over a long period of time. In such cases, a small quantity can be ordered for bookstore sales.
As an author, a combination of self-publishing and print-on-demand can offer you the following benefits:
1. You have total control over all aspects of your book. No one is going to edit your work, interfere with your personal “style” or remove sections you deem important without your consent. Moreover, customization (or bespoke publishing) is possible.
2. Your book is available for sale within 120 days or less, starting from the a raw manuscript of the book to receiving your printed copy. Compared to the “old time” methods of publishing, even if a publisher accepts your book, it is normally not available for sale for almost a year or later. When you self-publish, your book gets published on your timetable, not that of a traditional publisher, whose priorities are entirely different from yours.
3. You will yourself set the price of the book and will earn the entire profit (after excluding costs and discounts provided to retailers) from each sale. Compare this to traditional publishers who pay the author a fixed percentage of the marked price. You can set up a web page to sell your book, take orders and purchase the amount of books you need to fill the orders, or use our online bookstore to sell your books. This option is not possible with standard publishers who purchase the exclusive rights from a writer, thus making it impossible for authors to sell their books on their own. Most importantly, you retain all rights to your book.
4. Print-on-demand allows printing in very small quantities. That means you can address very niche audiences. Earlier the economics of book printing meant you had to have a readership of at least 2000-3000 before it made sense to publish a book. That, in fact, is the approach taken by traditional publishers. However, print-on-demand allows you to cater to much smaller markets. One author, for example, is a college professor who has compiled his notes into a textbook. Each year, he prints a few copies – one for each student in his class – with updated material.
5. Because you are printing the book only after it is sold, your book will always be available i.e. your book will always be in print. There will not be an “out of print” label next to your book.
6. Your book gets printed only if someone orders it; you don’t need to spend a large amount of money printing copies of your book and have them lying around or getting destroyed by mice or mould.
7. With our print-on-demand services, you can have your books listed on websites all around the world. When an order comes, simply direct it to us and we will print and ship the book to the customer.
So what’s the catch?
If you decide to self-publish, it is important that you, as the author, remain completely involved with all aspects of the process, including the marketing of the book. The process of self-publishing does not end after the book is written, not even after the book is printed. Since you, as an author, know your audience better than anyone else, you are best suited to market the book.
At CinnamonTeal, we will assist you in the marketing process but we expect you to remain involved during the entire process.
Self-publishing isn’t for you if:
a. You dream to sell a million books.
We have had many authors approach us seeking instant success and hoping to sell “at least ten thousand copies”. Here’s a secret: more often than not, that won’t happen. Average sales are in the range of 200-250. If this is a book you really believe in and will market aggressively, you will sell more copies. We have had authors who have sold in excess of 2000 copies but in each case, the author was mainly responsible for the sales. We only aided the sales process by ensuring that the book was available to anyone who wished to buy it.
b. You plan to recoup all your investments with the first 100 copies you have sold
On an average there is an expenditure of about Rs. 25,000 before you see the first copy of your book. This figure is indicative and the actual figure depends on a whole lot of other factors. To expect to recoup these costs by selling just a few books is to dream the impossible. Attempting this will only result in the book being priced out of the market. If you opt for self-publishing, patience must be your strongest virtue. Which brings us to the next point.
c. You expect success overnight
Self-publishing is a lot of hard work and it is self-defeating to think that success will come easily.You must be willing to first put in a lot of effort and turn out the best manuscript you can. After that, you must be willing to wholly immerse yourself in the publishing process and in marketing the book. It may take a few months, even years, before the efforts pay off but you must have the fortitude to hang on till then.
d. You are unable to accept criticism of your book
We mean, of the constructive kind. While we assist you with the publishing process, we will advise you on whether a manuscript needs to be edited, the type of layout that is most suitable, the approach you should take while selling. Many authors take offence, especially when told that the manuscript needs to be edited. Any advise we give will be in the interest of the book’s success and should be taken as such.
Read this blog to understand if you are ready for self-publishing.
Possible Uses of Print-On-Demand
Translation of works from regional languages to English and vice-versa
Books with (limited) regional appeal, for reaching new markets with new and niche content
Publication of out-of-copyright works that are difficult to obtain
Personalized gifts for your loved ones e.g. a smartly-produced collection of your dad’s poems
An album to preserve and showcase cherished photos and mementos
Customized/personalized business presentations
An easy way for publishers to ensure that books remain “in-print” without having to invest in costly inventory
Publication of theses by graduate/doctoral students
Bound manuscripts that novelists could use to show agents and editors.
Compilations – of recipes, essays, weekly columns, short stories or poems.
Our Print-On-Demand services include
Archival of content so that repeat orders can be immediately processed. Archived material and all other transactional data is kept secure. Our archival service also allows back lists to be immediately brought back into print
Content management services so that multiple editions of the same book can be simultaneously delivered if required.
Shipping and handling for distribution across the globe, thus avoiding the need for the author or publisher to manage book orders.
Printing of dummy copies for display at book fairs, etc.
Printing of a limited number of copies for use at a particular event
Direct order processing and delivery so that customer orders can be immediately relayed and processed.
Meticulous quality control processes to ensure consistency of all aspects of the book before printing and delivery.