Getting your first Proof as Cheaply as Possible

August 20, 2012 — Leave a comment

The last ten years have seen some freakishly drastic changes in the print and publishing industry. The two largest changes evident to the regular reading public are ebooks and digital magazines. They’ve completely altered the structure of a business model that was centuries old.

One major change that is as evident to you guys, though, is the creation of Print on Demand (POD) publishing. None of the major publishers really use this method, but it’s certainly ideal for smaller outfits who focus heavily on online sales.

So what is POD?

Here’s a quick definition I pulled:

Print on demand (POD) refers to digital printing technology that allows one or two copies of a book to be printed at a time, dispensing with the expense of warehousing books. It also allows a publisher or author to have books printed only as they are ordered, which means that at the end of the year, a publisher doesn’t face costly returns from bookstores. In recent years the quality of print-on-demand books has improved to the point that there often is little difference between them and the average traditional print book.

Why am I talking about POD books?

Well, all of Twit’s books have so far been POD. But I have another reason beside that.

Today I’m going to talk about getting your first proof, and there’s no better way to go than POD on this front.

The Old Way of Printing

If you go through an offset printer, or are just wanting reader copies for a book, the best option is Createspace.com. Yes, they’re an Amazon company. But, they’re also incredibly cheap (i. e. free) to do setup and creation of titles. With a traditional printer, you would be charged a setup fee for each title that your per unit price goes on top of. There’s nothing wrong with this, because, well, it takes time to setup a printer for a larger print run. If it takes time, you should be charged for it.

But, if you’re printing books during creation, so as to prevent a screw up during the creation timeline, it suddenly becomes incredibly expensive to continually print new versions of a book.

For instance, on Dieselpunk, we’re about 75% of the way through the creation of the book. The heavy lifting, like story review and deep copy edits, is done. The only missing pieces at this point are:

  • Foreword
  • Cover
  • Interior Design
  • Final proofing of book

Well, the biggest stumbling block here is the foreword of the book. Chris isn’t writing the foreword for Dieselpunk. In a major departure from our earlier anthologies, we’ve pulled in an outside expert to  write it for us: Larry Amyett, Jr. Everything else is going to be done in house.

Larry Amyett

Chris and I first met Larry at a local Steampunk convention. He was giving a presentation on, naturally, Dieselpunk. Like I said, Larry’s an expert on this subculture.

Chris and I were enthralled by the concept and decided to start work on this anthology.

But, we wanted to have an easily readable format for Larry. He doesn’t dig on ebooks or anything, and we wanted something cheap and effective, even if it was  incomplete, so he could work on his part while we continued work on everything else.

In comes Createspace. I simply did a layout of the PULP! template (which is designed for compactness and readability), sent it into Createspace, and had it ready to ship in two days. How’s that for turn around time on a proof? Even better, it cost me less than $10 with shipping. A lot of proofs run in the $20-30+ range, and that’s beside the fact that you’d have to pay a setup fee. I also didn’t have to worry about a manuscript bind from a local printer, which would still cost me more time and money than the POD method.

On top of that, I’m ordering myself a copy. While we’re working on the interior and cover design, I figure I can start proofing in my free time.

Better yet, once I have Larry’s foreword back, I can just upload it to Createspace with the other files, and print it out the next version of our reader copy.

So, if you’re interested in starting your own anthology or publishing your own book, keep this in mind. It doesn’t matter where you go to print your final book, whether it’s offset, Lightning Source, or any other site. If you are in control, use Createspace as a cheaper alternative to keeping it all with your final printer. It gives you more control because, ultimately, it’s cheaper to produce a book by using their service for the proofing and reader copies. If something is cheaper, it’s more manageable. You shouldn’t ever have to feel like, “Oh, man, I really want to change this chapter heading, but I’ve already spent $90 on proofs and changes.”

By keeping your production costs cheaper, you enable yourself to focus on the final product, and whether the readers will enjoy it, and not on whether you have to cut back somewhere else (like marketing your book, or your feeding your family).

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