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Printing Your Christian Book
How to Publish with Minimal Risk
If you've shopped around, you likely know publishing your book can be an expensive undertaking. But like many of us, you don't have the money or are not willing to spend lots of money to publish. This Hubpage is about how to be prudent with your cash. It is about how to keep your expenses to a minimum and accomplish your objective.
You want to have a professional product and you may need help to develop one, but you'll want to keep an eye on the bottom line. Get some prices on printing before you make too many commitments. Work your numbers from a fair price you can charge and actually collect on your book. Some companies will quote book prices that may be unrealistic in today's world. So start with what you believe is a fair and releastic price for your book. Check the stores to see what readers are buying and how much they are paying. Then make sure your printing fees are not too high. You still need to plan to give 50 percent to retail establishments, or to pay sales associates online or off. You should have some profit for yourself, as well. After all, you did the work!
So establish a fair price and price printing. Price print-on-demand books, short run books and longer runs. Be sure you are asking for the same type of paper, same size book, same cover material, same cover coatings, etc. That way you can fairly compare.
This Hubpage was developed to help you decide which way is best for you.
In Case You Are Wondering
Yes, I have published a Christian book, in print. A former newspaper reporter, I used my skills to encapsulate the biblical principles we need to truly love and forgive others, set aside pride, deal with tragedy and death, and so much more. I call it Fast Track to Victory, A Christian Guidebook.
You see I came to know God as an adult. When I did, I realized I lost out on many years of Bible study, study that I really needed to live the Christian life. I looked for a book that would get me up to speed, but I did not find one. So I have written it, a book that teaches the basics of Christianity in a relevant way, all in one place. A book which sidesteps doctrinal conflicts and deals with the brass tacks of everyday life. A book which meets you where you are at and helps you catch up, but which helps you develop the habit of spending time daily with God in his Word. A book which helps instill a love of God's word and wisdom in your lives. A book which helps you know how truly wonderful our God is.
My book is printed on demand, which means I was spared the expense of stockpiling books I would be forced to sell or look at... It is my goal to help spare you as well.
Let's Get Down to Business
Publishing is a business. Being an author is a business. Know it and act accordingly. Don't fall prey to commercial schemes. Test the waters carefully before spending your cash.
You need to have a business plan. How will you reach your readers? If you are a pastor and have a congregation, you may have some easy sales in the beginning. But you should get feedback and develop a plan to reach out beyond your church to others in your target market.
You can do this by offering to speak at different churches and conferences, offering your services as a guest on radio and television shows, or developing an online following through a blog or podcast. It's best if you do all three....
But be careful not to go beyond what God is actually calling you to do. Be in prayer and be sure he actually wants you to publish. Ask for his advice every step of the way. Get people to commit to pray for you and the success of your book. Do it early. Then you can do your research and trust in what God allows.
God may be calling you to epublish. He may have a different plan. Whatever the plan, it's always prudent to be sure you are hearing from God and walking in the center of his will.
Test the Waters First
I recommend that you test the waters before spending your cash. You can do this with an ebook, but you may want to reach folks who wouldn't touch an ebook. In those cases, you'll want them to have a printed book. In those cases, your best solution might be print-on-demand books. But that depends, on a number factors.
The main factor is how many books you can easily move -- how many people you already have in your following. If you pastor a large church, a mega church, your best bet might be a print run of at least 500 or 1,000. But those with smaller churches, or churches where the people are on tight budgets, may not be able to sell that many books, at least not within a reasonable period of time. You don't want to tie up money in a stack of books that are not selling.
So before you pay for printing, you need to shop. As a print broker, i get multiple price quotes. I advise you to do the same.
Start by talking to a printer who is willing to advise you on customary paper thicknesses, cover thicknesses, and book sizes for your project. Make some tentative decisions and price your book accordingly. For example, you may want to try 5.5" x 8.5" book with an all-black interior and color cover of say 100 point with an ultra violet coating and perfect binding. Be sure to have the printers quote on exactly the same thing. If someone goes with a 60-pound paper, you won't be comparing apples to apples.
For this to be cost effective, you need to pay a very reasonable price for printing. Otherwise, you won't have money for the retailers, who typically take 50 percent of the sales price. You need a portion for affiliates, if you have them, and for fees to online services like Paypal, if applicable. Find out what's left after all those expenses and decide if it is enough for you -- before you commit to a print job.
Don't assume you have to pay a really high fee for pint-on-demand. As a print broker, I can help you get a very reasonable price.
Ordering your Books
Deciding how many books to order can be tricky. You want enough to get rolling, but not too many. Your best bet might be to use print-on-demand and start with enough books to pass out for endorsements and book reviews, those friends and family members who you wouldn't dream of asking to buy a book, and enough to sell to members of the congregation, or to sell at a book signing you've scheduled.
Start small. Have business cards and/or flyers with a web address where readers can go later to order your book. You can always print more. Running out of books is actually a good thing. It means folks are interested in your book. Running out may make it seem more precious. So don't be afraid of running out. It may actually be a good thing.
If books don't move as well as you anticipated, you're not stuck with as large a pile of books....
What You Should Know Before You Hire a Book Designer
A Free Ebook
Like most writers, you're probably not thinking too much about how your book will look. You've been busy just focusing on what it will say. But if you are planning to self publish, you'll need a professional book design, inside and out.
It's likely you'll want a professional designer, one who will help you capture your reader's attention. That's true even for ebooks; the book cover needs to attract interest in a virtual store.
What You Should Know Before Hiring a Book Designer tells you in ten easy steps what you show know before you hire anyone. This free ebook, which I wrote, tells you: How to avoid extra fees for revisions, how to streamline the print process, how to limit your expenses, and lots more!
Download it here.
Learning about the Book Trade
Printers typically give your best price in large quantities, so you will probably get your best price at 1,000 or more copies. That's too many books for many writers; even 500 books may be too many. But like many business, printers like large orders. It's more money for them.
So you may be looking for a printer that specializes in short runs -- maybe runs of at least 50 copies, or runs of up to 200 copies. You can get the regular printers to quote on orders of 200 and 300 and you very well may want to do that. But it is likely you won't get the best prices on the smaller runs.
Any writer looking for a run of 50 or more books can consider a short run printer; every other writer will be looking strictly for pint-on-demand firms. Some of them will farm out your print job to another printer, which is okay if the price is right. The bottom line is the price you'll pay and the quality you'll receive.
Gauge quality by asking to see work samples before placing your order, checking references, and no matter what else you do, get a proof. That way you'll see what kind of job they're doing with your book before committing to your whole order. A proof is necessary. Even if you are confident in the printer's work, it is the last chance you'll have to make changes before the final printing. It's already going to cost you some, but not as much. Make sure you are happy with their work, and yours, before the box of books arrives -- no matter how small.
They may offer you a digital proof. For a book you have probably put a lot of time in, I would go for the actual printed book. There is nothing like seeing it with your eyes, thumbing through the pages, even passing it around to a few trusted individuals. You are more likely to find mistakes that need correcting with a hard proof. At least that has been so in my experience as a desktop publisher.
Now, a printer may not deliver the EXACT number of books you order. They have what they call overruns and underruns. Basically, the number is somewhat fluid depending on when the press stops or the printer stops. You may get a few more books than you ordered, or a few less. Expect to pay accordingly. That means you probably better order a few more, rather than less, than you have to have... Be sure to ask the printer if you'll be receiving an exact number of books, or if the order is subject to overruns or underruns.
A Few Things you Should Know
Test marketing your book has been called beta publishing and that is what I am advocating here. When you beta publish, you can publish -- without the frills. If you want, you can save a little money on things like an ISBN to put your book in distribution circles. That may sound like stabbing yourself in the foot, but know that distribution merely makes the books available for retailers to order. That doesn't mean they will put your book on their shelves. When you have a print-on-demand book, the stores can't ship back the books like they can with other books. So they have no incentive to stock your book.
When you self publish, you are competing against traditional publishing firms who know the ropes well -- and who still are floundering in some cases. So that is why I advise you to test your market. Test your sales plan. If it doesn't work, come up with another one and test that. When you have a game plan that appears to be working, then you may be ready to order in larger quantities. Until that happens, it is a questionable investment.
Since you are expected to drive the customers to the stores, I question whether you need distribution, unless you have a mass market book with lots of sales. Then you'll want more sales channels. But to start, why not send the buyers to your own website or those websites which give you the best return?
A place to sell your Christian Book
At my website, I publicize and sell new Christian books. I feature new book announcements, book excerpts, a Bible-based living column and more. If you are publishing a Christian book or ebook, you'll be able to promote it at my website for free.
You are able to register with your email address and upload you book announcement, book cover and mug shot. All submissions must be approved prior to becoming live on the site.
Readers and authors have a chance to connect and interact through commenting on the site. A storefront, plus Amazon.com and Smashwords.com shops are available.
An affiliate program provides online sales tools.
Visit the site at www.newchristianbooksonlinemagazine.com
What You Should KNOW About Self Publishing
This is my ebook about writing and publishing books, in digital and print formats. It book tells you candidly what you can expect. Guiding you through the book creation process from start to finish, What You Should KNOW About Self Publishing will help you turn your manuscript idea into a salable book.
You'll look at researching the competition, preparing to write, getting feedback, arranging for artwork, getting free publicity, developing a marketing plan, printing your books, publishing digitally, and how to avoid mistakes that will cut into your profits.
This ebook is available from my website at www.newchristianbooksonlinemagazine.com/store and other online retailers.
About the Author
Cheryl Rogers is an experienced writer, editor, desktop designer and print broker. Her background includes newspaper writing and editing, freelance magazine writing, and desktop design for print shops.
A self published author, Cheryl has written Fast Track to Victory, A Christian Guidebook, a book that encapsulates the biblical principles that sets us free to truly love and forgive others, set aside pride, and deal with tragedy and death. She also has written Making Choices: Lilfe is Lilke Acorns, a Bible study for children which teaches that things are not always what they appear to be. Her book Just Like Jonah Wail Tales features exaggerated tales of woe with modern day characters who make bad choices and land in whale of trouble, just like Jonah in the Bible. The book aimed at preteens and teens teaches there is a price to pay when you disobey. A unique book for families, I Can See Christian Storybook Treasury is a book with stories for toddler through teens. The book can be used as tool to dispel doubts about God that develop as a child grows.
Cheryl helps other authors with self publishing projects offering coaching, ghost writing, editing, proofreading, and print brokering. It is her goal to help authors publish as affordably as possible and purchase only the services they need. If you are considering writing as a career, or would like a writer's coach, you can connect with me at www.mentormecareernetwork.com
I share my original Scripture songs at my website, www.songsfromtheword.com
© 2014 Cheryl Rogers