Self Publishing Advice Duckling

What is Short Run Printing? What? What IS it?

Short Run Printing is a small (short) order of printed hard copy books (usually paperback, but could refer to hard cover) produced by a professional printing company. Short run printing is important to self publishers because it is the main way we can get a physical inventory of our books to sell at a profit. Traditional publishers usually order big numbers of books at a time, more than 5,000, and that’s how they get the books for a low enough price to be able to make a profit selling them in bookstores or anywhere else.

Before Print On Demand came around, small presses had to rely on short run printing to bring a book to market.  Now most self publishers can get a very good start with print on demand – having very small stocks of books on hand. But with enough sales volume, self publishers quickly look to short run printing to provide more inventory at a price that makes room for profitable sales.

As the self publisher, you write and create and design the book and have a final file of book interior and cover ready, then you work with a book printer to produce anywhere from 500 to 5,000 books. Some printers won’t do less than 1000. The cost per book goes down when the print order goes up. More and more traditional book printers are willing to do short runs in our current economy, when before it was not worth their time to work with the smaller orders and less experienced publishers.

We used Worzalla for the second short run printing of “Just A Couple Of Chickens” and were VERY pleased. And they did have to take more time to work with us, since we were less experienced as publishers. They were very patient… (…headsup the proof is called a blueline and it comes to you uncut and if you find a typo that late in the process it’s going to take a couple of hundred dollars to fix…)

I deeply believe in buying American, so I didn’t even consider a printer in China. With rising gas prices worldwide and rising basic wages in China, that competition is beginning to change – but regardless, I believe it is important to our economy to do our business here.

And that is Short Run Printing!


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