Most information that you find online about self-publishing journals and other low-content books pertains to using Amazon KDP.
But there are plenty of reasons that you might want to try working with a local publisher for your books.
Plenty of people prefer a more locally-sourced approach to running their businesses, and publishing is no different.
In this article, we’ll discuss some strategies for working with local publishers for your books.
Why work with a local publisher?
To be honest, working with a local publisher is usually not more financially advantageous than using Amazon’s printing services.
In order to get your price-per-unit low enough, you’ll usually have to order a large quantity of books.
And a large quantity comes with large storage requirements!
But beyond that consideration, there are advantages to working locally.
Small local printers can often do more bespoke printing jobs, incorporating fancier printing elements.
You can have more say in the overall look of the product, and can potentially look at samples beforehand.
The turnaround time for restock orders can be quicker, depending on where your printer is located in relation to you.
There are also ethical reasons that printing locally is better.
If your objective is to have your book stocked in local shops or bookstores, they will usually prefer to not carry books printed by Amazon.
This is because Amazon is a direct competitor and threat to small, locally owned businesses.
You’ll find this especially relevant if your book or journal is themed around a local subject.
For example, local travel guides or activity books.
In these cases, you’ll have to make sure that the price you are charging for your book or journal makes sense with the printing costs.
Further, if you are selling through local businesses, they are going to want to make a profit off that book.
Businesses will usually purchase books for 50-60% retail cost.
If they do consignment, they will take a lower percentage, but you don’t get paid upfront.
These are important things to keep in mind if you are working with a local printer~
How to find local printers
The best way to source local printers is to simply start searching online.
Make sure you’re being specific that you are looking for a printer, not a publisher.
Publishers may accept queries to publish books on your behalf, but they generally aren’t looking for low-content books.
However, if you know of a local publisher and you like their work, you might be able to ask them where they get their books printed.
Local printers often also offer other services, like posters, label and sticker printing, or other paper/print material manufacturing.
So don’t be afraid to inquire if you see books are only one type of print material they do.
More businesses will offer coil or ring-bound book printing, as this doesn’t require the exact same printing equipment as a hardcover or glue-bound paperback book.
You’ll often find that these local printing companies have forms on their websites for getting a project quote.
You’ll have to provide a lot of the same information that you would via Amazon KDP, as well.
What do you need to know for a quote?
You’ll want to have your book finished and designed before getting a completely accurate quote.
However, you can work with estimates if you don’t have the final product ready yet.
You’ll want to know the page count for the book, as this will determine the spine width of the cover.
The overall size of the book will probably be a standard size. 5 x 8 inches, 6 x 9 inches, 8 x 10 inches, or 8.5 x 11 inches are fairly common.
Determine whether the interior of the book will be in black and white or colour. Colour is more expensive per unit, of course.
You’ll also want to think about what kind of binding you want, if the printer offers choices. Glue bound? Saddle stitch? Coil? Hardcover? There are a lot of options out there!
Finally, you’ll want to think about the quantity that you are planning to order.
As I said, the price will go down per unit the more you order.
But it can be a bit risky to place a large order unless you have a very specific marketing plan in mind.
Plan your marketing early
Before the big print-on-demand boom, self-published authors frequently suffered from the same affliction…
Ordering too many copies of their book!
There are plenty of horror stories out there. Many of them end with authors either giving away or recycling their unsold books.
In order to have more confidence in your publishing strategy when working with local printers, it’s a good idea to do some planning first.
If you plan on working with local stores, get a sample of your book and go talk to them first. Find out if they’re interested and what their initial order might be.
If you’re going to have an online store where you sell the books, how will you drive traffic to that site?
How will you market online? With paid ads, social media, SEO, blogging? Will you have a bigger brand around your book product, or is the product the star of the show?
Having these kinds of strategies in place will help you feel more confident going into the ordering process.
Sure, you can expect that friends and family will buy copies from you…
But there’s a saying I told my partner back when I first started my business:
You can’t build a business on favours.
Eventually, you need people who don’t know you or have a personal connection to start buying you product.
That’s how you start to turn a single product into a viable business.
If your objective is to stay small and just share your project with your inner circle, that’s fine!
But most people entering publishing are doing it with the objective of earning an income.
And it’s important to keep that in mind when you’re making big financial decisions like ordering inventory.
There are lots of great reasons to work with a local book printer.
I hope that you’re feeling more empowered about that decision, and know some of the things you need to keep in mind as you move forward!
Holding physical book inventory is definitely a step away from the “passive income” nature of self-publishing…
But if you’re more interested in passive income, I have some courses you can access for free!
Check out my offerings on Skillshare. With the link below, you can get 1 month for FREE – that’s more than enough time to take all the courses I have to offer!