Self Publishing Print Books and Interior Book Design Joel Friedlander header

Joel Friedlander is the author several books including The Self-Publisher’s Quick & Easy Guides, a series of ebooks that help to solve key challenges for self-publishers. He has won the AIGA “50 Books of the Year Award” for his work at Aperture Publishing, and the Printing Industries of America Gold Award for his book design and production. He is the owner of Marin Bookworks of San Rafael, California and runs the very popular site for self publishing information TheBookDesigner.com

Joel is the son of a printer. So he’s been around publishing most of his life. He opted to go into design because it was more interesting to him than standing next to a printing press.

He started Marin Bookworks in the 1980s after working for Aperture publishing because he wrote a book he knew no other publisher would want to take on. Marin Bookworks serves small and medium-sized publishing houses as well as independent authors.

We had a fascinating discussion that covered a range of topics including: went to use an offset printer rather than on demand printing, the future of publishing, and the advantages and disadvantages of being a self published author..

Here are some of the highlights of our conversation.

  • How to self publish print books and how to determine which printing options are best for you based on your book, the market and your budget.
  • Self publishers can produce many different types of books profitably, if they have the right market and know how to produce those books.
  • The state of self-publishing today and how author responsibilities have multiplied.
  • The need for education in the self-publishing space.
  • Self-Publishing a book the right way can cost anywhere from $120 to $20,000 depending on the kind of book you’re doing, the market you are selling to, and what you want to do with it.
  • $20,000 is the budget you should have if you’re trying to publish a front list book with a national book tour.
  • If you want to do a high quality print book and ebook you’re probably going to spend $3000 and $6000.
  • The process of self-publishing a coffee table book.
  • The key to being successful with print on demand is finding the right market for your print book.
  • Here’s a tip: one thing you might want to do as a new author is publish the e-book first, and only publish a print book after your audience asks you for one. This way you know there are people out there who want to buy it.
  • The importance of connecting your production and your marketing.
  • People have a price ceiling on what they’ll pay for entertainment. It’s important to tailor your book length to your market.
  • If you have a long book consider splitting it up into shorter books.
  • When it’s a good idea to go with offset printing versus print on demand.
  • The advantages of offset printing.
  • The process you go through from finding a short run printer to distributing your book.
  • If you want to sell books in bookstores you almost have to use the offset printing. Print on demand books have a bad rap because they weren’t good quality in the beginning.
  • It’s very hard for self published authors to to sell books in brick and mortar bookstores simply because of the volume of books that need to be produced in order to have that strategy be successful.
  • The only major disadvantage for a self published author is how difficult it is to get in to the traditional supply chain of distributors and bookstores.
  • Traditional publishers only advertise books they think are going to sell well already.
  • Book buyers don’t generally buy a book based on who published it. If your book is the quality they expect they will be happy to buy it.
  • A book that would take a traditional publisher a year and a half to two years to publish can be published in a few weeks by a self published author.
  • The Hybrid Author Movement.
  • Traditional publishers buy books seasonally. So the acquisition editor of Harper Collins may be buying books for Fall of 2017 right now.
  • Another major advantage for self published authors is that we can talk directly to our audience. Traditional publishing has always been a business-to-business selling model where publishers sell books to distributors and bookstores, not directly to readers.
  • Readers will talk to authors in a very different way than they talk to the publisher of a book.
  • Authors who are part of the market they are selling to have a much deeper understanding of the customer. The author who has overcome depression and writes a book about it is much closer to the audience than a traditional publishing company is.
  • The future of publishing.
  • How to start your own publishing company.
  • If you want to support yourself financially you really need more than one book.

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Options for Distributing Your Books out You Get It from the Printer

1. You can try to get a book distributor. This is complicated and expensive, so if that’s the option you choose, you should know up front before you order the run from the printer. (Most distributors, if they’re going to accept a self published author, are going to ask for a discount of anywhere between 65% to 75% off of the retail price.)

2. You use a Fulfillment Center. The Fulfillment Center keeps a small number of your books on hand and typically they have an 800 number that people use to order your book. All the orders go to the company and they ship the product to your customer. In this scenario you’re paying on a transaction basis. You will pay a fee for every order that is shipped by the fulfillment house.

3. Do-It-Yourself. This is where you have the books shipped to your house and fulfill orders yourself. This is the least expensive option if you have space to warehouse the books. In this scenario,you become a merchant on Amazon. Amazon will order books from you and you will ship the books to them.

The Self-Publisher’s Quick & Easy Guides

A Self Publisher’s Companion — expert advice for authors who want to publish.

The Self-Publisher’s Ultimate Resource Guide — every indie author’s essential directory to help you prepare, publish, and promote professional looking books.

Joel’s Copyright Guide — There’s still a lot of unnecessary mystery and folklore about how copyright works. Learn what you need to know about copyright quickly and efficiently.

Self-Publisher’s Quick & Easy Guides—ISBNs & Barcodes — Learn how to use ISBN, how to get it, and what it means. Includes questions and answers about ISBN, and how to decode both the ISBN and the Bookland EAN barcode that appears on the back of your book cover.

Links and Resources Mentioned in the Interview

APE: Author, Publisher, Entrepreneur-How to Publish a Book — The book by Guy Kawasaki and Shawn Welch. Joel wrote a section for the e-book on printing your self published book.

TheBookDesigner.com — Joel’s website

Articles on the cost of self-publishing — Joel’s series on the cost of self-publishing.

Understanding Book Printing Estimates for Self-Publishers — Joel’s series of articles on estimates from printing presses.

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