Print books are no more difficult to produce than eBooks

stack of books
If you can produce one great-looking book, you can produce many

Yes, they take longer to produce.  Obviously… because you have to design them a certain way, then get them printed… and fulfillment takes time.

So, the time between when someone orders the book (online) and they receive it, is necessarily going to be longer than an instant download. Of course, if someone is in a bookstore, they can purchase your book as soon as they see it…

Yes, print books are more structured, they need to follow a certain “flow”. You need to adhere to certain standards for size and front matter and back matter (if you want to be taken seriously, anyway).

With an eBook, you can build it out however you like. You can include full-color pictures, full-color fonts, at no additional cost (printing all those colors will cost you). So, you have more freedom. But with a print book, you’re actually trying to adhere to certain standards, so you’re recognized by a larger audience as someone to take seriously… an expert who can be trusted.

So, sticking with standard can actually work in your favor.

The thing is, once you understand those standards, and you learn how to present yourself well, it’s not that difficult to do it — and repeat the process. Everyone who’s on their own, forging their independent way in the world, knows the magic of a repeatable process. You find out what works best, you get your system down, and you keep repeating that process, tweaking it as you go for the different situations and scenarios.

It’s exactly the same with publishing a print book. You get your system down, you find out what works, and you just keep doing that same thing. You can go as basic as you want, or as complex. You can keep things simple and streamlined, or you can pull out all the stops.

And it doesn’t need to take forever.

One afternoon about 10 years ago, while I was on vacation, I was looking at four different poetry collections I had on my laptop. I wanted to publish them. And I knew how to do it. By the end of the afternoon — maybe a few hours, tops — I had four different poetry chapbooks (about 50 pages each) ready for purchase in print form. I was actually surprised, how quickly it went. The end product(s) looked great. And it took me a few hours.

That’s it.

Because I knew how to do it. I had the proper tools. And I decided to do it.

If you’ve been publishing eBooks because you think they’re so much easier to do than print books, you may want to reconsider that. If you’ve got great content, you owe it to yourself (and the world) to get the word out in print. On Amazon. Even in your local bookstores. For that matter, national bookstores, like Barnes & Noble.

It’s possible. You just have to know how.

What would you publish, if you knew you could?


Why would anyone publish in print? Here are 4 good reasons.

old books on a shelf
Why would anyone publish in print, when digital is so much easier?

Why would anyone want to create a printed book, when they can create eBooks a lot more easily – and cheaply?

Why would anyone want to get wrapped up in the process of designing and producing physical books that take time to deliver to customers, when they can deliver a digital information product immediately, with no additional production or shipping costs?

What’s the point of having a tree-killing artifact of yesteryear in your creative portfolio? Aren’t printed books so… 1990?

1. Comfort. Familiarity. Ease of use.

A lot of people still prefer printed books to eBooks. They like – no, they love – the feel of a physical book in their hands. It gives them a sense of well-being and solidity, to have something tangible they can carry with them and put on their bookshelf. They’re “old school” and they like it that way. Or, they just never warmed up to eBooks or digital media.

Also, the proliferation of Kindles, Nooks, iPads, eBook readers, websites — the whole range of digital reading options — has reminded a lot of people just how much they love an actually book. It doesn’t need to be plugged in or charged. You don’t need to wait for it to boot up. You won’t be interrupted by social media alerts popping up on the page. And there’s something very comforting about the heft of a book. It’s a companion. It’s a haven. And the Internet hasn’t weaned us of that need.

2. Exposure.

When you publish a printed book, you have a chance to reach a wider variety of customers, regardless of operating system or hard disk space. And you actually have a chance to showcase your work on display at a bookstore. And if you’re going to appear on television, YouTube, or even on the radio to talk about your book, the person interviewing you will likely ask for a hard copy of your work. If they’re holding an actual book in their hand in front of the camera, viewers can see — yeah, it’s real. It’s a thing.

3. Credibility.

With a printed book in hand – especially one with an ISBN – you can approach magazines and newspapers and radio and television hosts and have something in hand to talk about with them. You can mail your book to reviewers and reporters, and you can hold up your creation for the camera, when it comes time to tell the audience what all the excitement is about. And when members of your audience go to their local bookstore to see if they carry your book (depending on what service you use to publish your book), they can put in a request for the book from the bookstore, and potentially help you get it stocked on the bookshelf stores. (Though you may already be convinced, like many other infopreneurs, that bookstores are not the place to sell books, still, it doesn’t hurt to see your book on the shelves of a brick-and-mortar store.)

4. Perceived expert status.

Probably my favorite reason to publish in print, is how it can take your ideas to a whole new level and get you the kind of exposure once reserved only for the select few picked up by a mainstream publisher. Having a book in print has a way of instantly establishing you as an expert, in ways that producing (even getting rich from) digital information products can’t, in the offline world. When people hear you’ve written a book, and they see that book in your hands, a something happens inside their heads that says you must be pretty smart. Chances are, it’s true – you are! But what matters most is that others think so. Perception can go a long way.

Everyday folks have an innate respect for people who can translate their expertise into an actual book. A lot of people may think about it, but most of them never do. As a published author, you’re in a league of your own. And that’s a pretty good feeling.

So, before you write off the idea of putting out a print version of your work, ask yourself what’s stopping you. Are you just not familiar with the process? Does it seem overwhelming to you? Have you just never tried?

There are a lot of benefits to be gained from publishing in print — especially as an entrepreneur or infopreneur. You owe it to yourself to consider it. And re-consider your feelings about print publishing.

Got questions about the print publishing process? Let me know in the comments below. I’d love to hear from you.






From writing to publishing

books on wall around doorSomething really amazing happened when I went out in the world after college. I wasn’t really sure what I wanted to do with my life, and I just needed the job to make rent. So I got a temporary job helping out in the office of the vice president of a business-to-business publishing company a few miles from my home.

It started out as just another job so I could pay the bills, but it ended up kindling in me a passion for publishing that I never actually knew was even possible. Yes, I had been writing since I was eight years old, and I had been creating my own books on my own for a few years, but I had never had direct exposure to the world of publishing proper, until that time. As is often the case with somebody who has innate talent who gets noticed but people who need those talents, I was quickly identified by the VP as somebody who had more to offer than just filing skills.

I was promoted into a position doing direct mail advertising for the company’s products, and I grew our mailings from three mailings per year in the United States to four mailings per year, plus two mailings in Canada. Our earnings increased, too, which is what tends to happen when you have a good list, a great product, and you have a fantastic team that knows how to put it all together. I was very fortunate to get to work with those people, as well as being given a lot of flexibility and freedom to grow the program – which I did.

My favorite part of that job, however, wasn’t something that you would think a person would enjoy. That job was proofing bluelines – doing quality control on the proof copies of publications that were going to press that same week. Once a week, on Tuesday afternoons, my coworker, Dot, and I would sit down with big sheets of blue printed proofs of a few publications, and go over them with the proverbial finetooth comb, looking for smudges, inkblots, typos, anything that would make them look less than perfect. Some people would hate that kind of work – it genuinely makes your eyes cross after while. But both Dot and I enjoyed it, and we also enjoyed each other’s company, so all in all it was a great thing.

The other great thing about it was that it introduced me to the behind-the-scenes workings of publishing and printing. That gave me a very real appreciation of how laborious the process was to crank out thousands, hundreds of thousands, even millions of copies via offset printing.

It’s no small feat, believe me. Every step of the way is labor-intensive. And accordingly, it gets expensive.

Of course, digital has changed everything, and I got a real taste of just how much you changed things just a few years later, when I moved to California and started working for a little software company. I was head of documentation of the company, responsible for writing manuals for the software for DOS, windows, and Macintosh. I’m totally dating myself by mentioning DOS, but back in the day, it was a big deal, so it’s worth mentioning.

My experience there was totally different than it was at the other publishing company. Because suddenly, you could do everything on a computer. Whereas just a few years before that, everything had to be re-created for typesetters and then proofed and then put through the whole offset printing and binding process, now with a PC or Mac, you could write, format, and generate your gallery with the equipment in your office. You could format the book, design it exactly the way it was supposed to be, and then print it out double-sided and sit down and read through the entire thing without having to bring in anyone else.

It was just so amazing, I can’t even begin to say. It was like nothing I’d ever done before. And it was so, so gratifying to know that my finished product was going to look exactly as I had specified it when I had typed it all up and formatted it on the screen in front of me.

I also gained a real appreciation for Apple standards when it came to documentation. In the PC world, everybody wrote their documentation however they liked, they formatted it however they liked, and they produced whatever books, how to guides, quickstart sheets, etc. that seemed useful to the people writing them. Apple, however, had standards for how you write documentation, what order you write it in, how it’s formatted, how it’s structure thematically, and so forth. Nothing was left to chance with Apple. And if you didn’t follow their guidelines, it wasn’t accepted.

When I first started writing documentation for the Mac, I really chafed at the restrictions. But it didn’t take long for me to realize how freeing that really was. I didn’t have to reinvent the wheel, I didn’t have to figure things out from scratch every time I started a new piece of documentation, and I could trust that my readers would look at my manuals through the same lens that they looked at every other piece of Mac documentation – the expectations were clear, and it made everything much easier to manage, as well as understand.

I did a bunch of other tech writing after that, for hardware, medical software, even an equipment purchasing guide for a national insurance company. Each job was very different from the last, and each one taught me a whole lot – including the importance of a clearly designed document.

Then the World Wide Web took off, and I moved into the web development space – devoting my life to designing webpages instead of print documentation. Everyone seem to think that the Internet was going to be the end of books – if you could read something digitally, why would you want a print copy? There seemed to be an assumption that people would prefer digital over print. We see now that that fear was completely unfounded. The Internet has not meant the end of books – it’s brought a renaissance of books. Because now, with all the digital technology and print-on-demand capabilities, it’s possible for a wider variety of books of a wider variety of types in virtually every conceivable format to be produced easily and cost-effectively.

And even though professionally speaking I went digital, in my own life and in my own writing, I still stuck with the print publishing world. And in fact, my digital job made it possible for me to fund my personal print publishing, both by giving me a nicer paycheck and also by give me the chance to really develop some online connections that steered me in the direction of digital on-demand publishing.