So where did I leave off…oh Ya, going to the printers? Well, my friends, this was actually not the original printer that was to print my book. You see, the printing business is not as simple as getting numerous quotes, paper samples, binding samples etc. and picking the best one to meet your needs. It is a complicated business and given the fact that printed material is becoming more and more obsolete you would think it would be easy to find someone willing to print and bind your book!
What did I learn, the hard way? First, there is traditional printing such as letterpress & offset and then there is digital printing. Digital printing is more economical and usually faster. Then, there are 2 types of printers I encountered. “Print on demand” which allows for singular or small order printing and the price is usually guaranteed for numerous small orders. This is great for entrepreneurs or first-time authors with a small budget. The other type is for larger print runs and therefore more economical, but, it must be paid for up front. How do you choose? Ask yourself how many are you going to sell? Of course, you won’t really know until you start selling! This is where “pre-sales” are a great way to go! You check the climate for your content and at the same time collect some cash to fund the book…buyers get a special one-time price- a win/win. So, now you should be able to decide…are the presales a big hit and are you a bit of a gambler? Or are just family and friends buying it?
Another thing I encountered was Print Brokers, sometimes disguised as Publishers. What is a Print Broker? Well, basically a middle man between you and the printer. They get a quote from a printer and add a percentage for themselves. Sometimes they have “set up fees” and sometimes they do not. Sometimes they disclose they are a Broker and sometimes they do not! I would stay away from the ones that don’t disclose they are a Broker. I would especially stay away from the Brokers that hire other Brokers to print your book! Yes, they both build in a profit margin and guess who is paying them? And if you do a reprint? Yup, you pay them every time…. I don’t have a problem with paying someone for a service, I just like full disclosure, that’s all. BE CAREFUL.
Once I had the print type decided and narrowed down to a couple of printers I sourced, it was time to get serious. Some printers will charge for a Proof Copy and then credit you back all or a portion if you order. I think this is fair. Some companies provide it free of charge. I had one of each. The one that was free was poor quality and they had to print it again. Their second attempt was only slightly better. So if they can’t get a proof right what are the chances they would get the whole order right? Starting to feel some pressure, presale books sold and no definite printer yet! The second company Proof Copy arrived and was way better. I was finally starting to feel like they might be the one! One quick paper change, lighter for shipping. And now that all the photos were printed…it was time to check the quality. I took the majority of photos myself and consider myself a “hobby photographer” …a few were not up to our standards and needed to be changed. DELAY#1
The photos were either replaced or reshot and the PDF was off to the printer again. A second Proof Copy was printed and shipped. Each time I was waiting for a Proof Copy it was like waiting for an old best friend I hadn’t seen in years…mixed feelings, would I still like them? Well, the final Proof Copy arrived and finally, this was my book! The book I worked endless hours on and only could imagine until this moment!
Now, to get it printed in volume and delivered! Off to the printer now for the last time….approved and paid for all up front. A delivery date promised. A few days before expected delivery, an email…the printer broke down, awaiting a part! DELAY#2 New, extended delivery date.
Delivery, day! I email the printer first thing in the morning…tracking number, please? Reply…”on it”. No Tracking number and delivery time comes and goes, no books. Phone call later in the day…Printer: “UPS lost some of your boxes?” Me: “What?!” Printer: “I will personally deliver the boxes I have tonight by 6pm” …6 pm…no books …9pm…No books and I am seriously thinking now that I have been duped and there are no books coming and this is a seriously intricate SCAM!!… 9:45 pm….2 very young men arrive with 2 of my boxes of books…”Sorry, we were late, the printer hired us to deliver these as we were going to be in the area, we were going to Hamilton!(an hour away?!) We got lost….” DELAY #3
Friday morning I call the printer to hear their story. It seems the boxes were not in fact lost but damaged…possibly in a car accident….Me: “Wait, what did you say…damaged, car accident?” Printer: “Yes, they need to be reprinted”. DELAY #4 Me: “your kidding right?”…Now, I am thinking this is one of those shows when you get “Punked”……but then It was at this exact moment that I found this all to be quite comical…I mean what else could I do? It was clearly a legitimate operation as I received 2 boxes the night before. I also came to realize that a Broker is only as good as their suppliers…they are at the mercy of the printer and courier company! He apologized profusely and told me he was at the warehouse all morning going through the boxes to salvage those that could be salvaged and he would deliver them personally the next morning. The balance would be reprinted and delivered within a week. We also negotiated some extra books for my trouble….
As promised, the second print was completed along with the extra books promised and delivered on time, again personally! FINALLY ALL HERE, and only 4 delays!
This all reminds me of my favorite John Candy movie….”Trains, planes, and automobiles”. Remember, sometimes what can go wrong, will go wrong. I know so much more now and will do things differently with my next book…yes, my next book. It’s like childbirth, you forget the pain with the most worth while things in life!
Ciao for now, Natalina