Last week I attended the launch of a book by one of my clients, only a month after we had tied up the manuscript. In the interim the material was prepared for publication (i.e. editing and design) by my colleagues at A story to tell then, after final adjustments to the typesetting and a good proofread, the files were sent to the printer. Three days later the books were delivered to her office on a Monday, ready for the Thursday launch.
A couple of days after that, the print book was available for order literally all over the world, via several major online stores including Amazon US and UK, Book Depository and Booktopia. The ebook version will soon be available from all the major vendors as well.
This is the way of modern independent publishing. Very quick and remarkably inexpensive. To a large extent the future that was originally promised by print-on-demand has arrived.
No longer does publishing a book mean printing hundreds of copies and hoping most of them don't end up stacked under your bed or in the garage. No longer is the selling of your book limited to your own city, let alone your own country.
The book I mentioned, by the way, is State of the Nanny by Louise Dunham, which provides insights into the nanny industry (including where shortcuts are being taken) and a timely reminder that children need to be the first priority in all policy decisions in the child care sector. It really is a must-read for anyone involved in the sector, including parents.
The front end of this process hasn't really changed that much of late. Thanks to the benefits of the digital age, editing and design can be achieved very efficiently, especially when you're working with people who know what they're doing.
Print-on-demand changes things
What has really changed big time is the printing side of things. It wasn't that long ago that having a book printed required a minimum order of around 1000 copies to make it cost effective, due to the high initial setup cost associated with offset printing. Print lead times were at least two weeks, often longer.
Digital printing improved that situation a lot, but until recently has still required an order of 200 or more copies to be worthwhile, and turnaround times were at least a week.
With services like IngramSpark (formerly Lightning Source), you can now have a single copy of a book printed for the same per-book price as printing 100 copies. And it can be printed and shipped same day, if necessary. Print-on-demand (POD) is literally that: print copies of your book as you need them – no more, no less – without being penalised on price.
Even better, IngramSpark have printing facilities in Australia as well as in the UK and US, so the old 'tyranny of distance' for independent authors based in Australia is melting away as well.
All of this makes the idea of publishing your own book a reality for everyone. If you've been writing a regular blog or newsletter for a while, you already have most of the content you need: your book could be out in a matter of weeks. Even if you were to start from scratch it could be done in quick time if you put your mind to it (and/or sought help to bring the content together).
Paper books still carry a lot of credibility and are a brilliant way to position and promote your expertise. And now there is no excuse not to have one.
As usual, if you have any questions or comments or need any advice, please add a comment below or contact me.