What’s the best way to get your memoir or family history book into print? That’s a question with many answers, and even more people out there telling you which answer you should choose. Which one will work best for you?
Begin by asking yourself three questions:
- Who is your intended audience? Are you hoping for commercial success with wide distribution of your book? Or, is your goal to distribute a limited number of copies to family and friends?
- How many copies will you need? This will help you to decide whether it's better to use a digital printer or an offset printer. For a discussion of the different types of printing available see our blog posts Printing Choices in Self Publishing and Print on Demand Lowers the Cost of Family History Books.
- How to plan to pay for the book’s printing or publication?
When you’ve made some decisions about these questions you will be better equipped to make a choice on who you want to print or publish your book.
If you objective is a limited distribution to family and friends it is important for you are planning what is referred to in the industry as a private publication. With this kind of self publishing you don’t need the services of a publisher who offers editing, design, distribution and publicity – all at an additional charge. You need a printer who will do the physical work of creating your book. You need only to look at whether the printer will provide the size book, cover quality, type of illustrations (color or black & white) etc. that you want. Next, decide about how you want to handle distribution. Do you want to buy the books in bulk and distribute them yourself or would you like to have the printer put them into an online store so that people can order their own copies of your book, saving you some of the cost of producing it? Finally, look for the printer who offers the best price possible. It is important to understand that many publishers provide printing services. Just make sure that if your goal is a private publication you arrange to pay only for the services you need to have the book printed. These publishers may try to sell you additional services you don’t need. Don’t let them do it.
If your goal is to achieve commercial success you have a much greater variety of choices to make and that variety is expanding almost daily as the world of publishing evolves rapidly. Do you want to publish with a traditional publisher? Is a big publishing house or a small press better for your book? What are subsidy publishers or vanity presses? What options are available in the growing world of self publishing? Spending some time to understand your options is well worth your time.
Here are a few links to help get your education underway.
- Author and former publishing company president Michael J. Dowling provides a good overview of the industry in his white paper How to Choose the Best Method for Publishing Your Book posted on The Book Designer.
- The Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America Blog Writers Beware offers a more detailed analysis of small presses, subsidy publishers, and vanity presses in its post Small Presses
- Angela James, executive editor of Carina Press, Harlequin's new digital-first press offers some good information in Choosing a Digital Publisher
Taking some time to explore your publishing/printing options will save you both money and frustrations as you guide your book into print.