Whether you want to retain creative control or are just having a difficult time getting attention from traditional publishers, “print on demand” is like getting the keys to a radio station across the street from the SiriusXM headquarters. You get to release your books on your own terms and build up your readership without interference from above.
With that being said, you’ll have to work harder and figure out how to sell a book on your own. Having no publisher to wrestle away creative decisions also means no established infrastructure. But fear not! With a little navigation and some elbow grease, you can make print-on-demand bookselling a success.
What Is a Print-on-Demand Book?
Unlike traditional publishing, which usually prints up a batch of thousands of books (or more) for distribution and then prints more once that first batch is gone. Print on demand is the opposite. When a customer orders a book, the print-on-demand company will create the book and ship it without any input from the author.
How Does Print on Demand Work?
If you decide to go your own way for book publication (or are tired of rejection) and are searching for “how to sell book – online,” you will see businesses that specialize in print on demand. You will have to send your manuscript to the print-on-demand company according to their format guidelines, including cover art.
Once all of the parameters have been met and the manuscript is ready to be crafted into physical books, you will set up your storefront to sell your book online. When new orders come in, the print-on-demand company makes the book and ships it off. You don’t have to worry about inventory or unsold books.
Four Ways to Sell Books Online
For many authors, the fear over how to sell a book themselves keeps them away from even trying. They worry about quality control, upfront costs, or having to focus on myriad business decisions instead of the fun, creative aspects of writing.
What print on demand offers is more creative control, not less. If you want to sell your book online on your own terms, you have options!
- Print-on-Demand Book Store
When searching for a print-on-demand book store, you’ll need to do some research. Get a test printing of your book to feel the quality in your hands. Check everything, from color to paper quality to durability.
Pros of a Print-on-Demand Store
Benefits include the following:
- Full control of the content
- Begin publishing immediately
- No inventory, meaning books are printed and shipped as ordered
- Book in print as long as you want
Additionally, you keep the majority of the royalties when you work with a print-on-demand store.
Cons of Online Print-on-Demand Shops
- No publisher to handle storefront or marketing
- Upfront costs, unlike with a publisher
- Must check quality of printing first
- In charge of the final cover art and editing
Now, for some authors, those may not be cons – just the price of freedom and creative control. Just be aware that with print on demand, the buck stops with you!
- Amazon KDP
The Amazon print-on-demand service is called Amazon KDP for Kindle Direct Publishing. This is a popular option for those who only plan on selling their books through Amazon anyway.
Amazon KDP can print in color or black and white, so whether you’re publishing a children’s book or a novel, they’ll be able to handle it. Additionally, unlike hiring a print-on-demand company, publishing through Amazon KDP requires no upfront costs since they just take a profit from the book sales to cover production.
Pros of Amazon KDP
Benefits of the Amazon print-on-demand service include:
- Your books get shipped through Amazon Prime
- If your eBook is already on Kindle, the transition is easy
- Setup and maintenance are minimal
Perhaps the biggest benefit, however, is that the program is free.
Cons of Amazon KDP
Drawbacks to Amazon KDP include:
- There are many reports of low-quality results
- Amazon takes a high percentage of the profit
- Amazon is the only storefront that can sell your book
- Payments take a long time to process
Thanks to how payments are processed, it can take authors weeks and even months to see the money from book sales appear in their bank accounts.
As for how much Amazon charges per book, they take a 35% royalty for all books under $2.99 and over $9.99. For books between $2.99 and $9.99, they take a 70% royalty.
- Ingram (Wholesale)
When it comes to wholesale book sales and distribution, Ingram is the largest. They’ll supply books for bookstores at wholesale price. Their print-on-demand service, IngramSpark, allows authors to become part of Ingram’s large network.
Authors may even see their books end up on bookstore shelves without having to sign with a major publisher first. As such, when setting up an IngramSpark account, authors must set the standard price for their book and the wholesale price, which IngramSpark recommends setting at 55% of the standard price.
Pros of Selling Through Ingram
Benefits of Ingram include:
- You can take advantage of Ingram’s vast distribution network
- Books can end up selling in major physical bookstores
- Books can end up selling through major online retailers
As you may discover in your research, other print-on-demand services sometimes use Ingram, too.
Cons of Selling Through Ingram
Drawbacks to working with Ingram include:
- Your profits can be extremely low
- The setup process is complicated
- Setup and test books are expensive
- Edits cost extra
While authors may find the idea of Ingram’s network enticing, you may discover that making a profit is difficult. The setup fee is $50, which takes care of the internal pages and cover of a test book. An edit after this point is an additional $25.
With self-publishing, you’re going a step further with your level of control. Instead of a print-on-demand structure, you’ll get batches of books printed that you’ll then sell yourself. This way, you can weed out any books that are damaged or have misprints, and you can even go the extra mile and personalize books with signatures or other touches for customers.
Pros of Self Publishing
The best benefits of self-publishing include:
- The most control of any option
- You get to check the quality of every copy of your book personally
- You’ll have multiple copies that you can personally sell or distribute
Additionally, orders can be personalized for customers.
Cons of Self Publishing
Drawbacks of self-publishing include:
- Every step of the process is your responsibility
- All costs are yours to bear
- You must personally take time to ship books to customers
- You will have to rectify any errors yourself
When you go self-published, you have to be ready for the workload! Unless you hire editors, graphic designers, proofreaders, a webmaster for your storefront, and people to handle shipping for you, that’s all stuff you have to take care of.
Get Books into Your Customers’ Hands with Print Bind Ship
Whether you want to trust a print-on-demand service to ship books to your customers or you’d rather handle it yourself, the first and most important thing is to get books that are consistently high quality.
Print Bind Ship helps authors just like you around the world! We will print up a batch of books for you to distribute or connect with your storefront to fulfill orders directly. We’ll print up a test book for you, too! If you’re ready to get your book off your computer’s hard drive and in front of eager readers, then it’s time to contact Print Bind Ship.
Yes, but authors must do their own quality checks. The service benefits authors by taking care of inventory and shipping hassles.
Yes! You can trust a print-on-demand service to make the books and send them to customers or order batches and ship them yourself.
You can market your book by interacting with readers on social media, submitting it for indie book awards and reviews, giving away some advance copies, and paying for advertising.