Overview of Print on Demand

Hey there. Welcome to the How Print on Demand Works module of the course. This video is going to be all about an overview of how print on demand and publishing actually works. How the different components interact with each other and what it looks like both from the writer's point of view and from the consumer's point of view.

So let's get started.

How Does Print On Demand Work?

How does self publishing actually work when you use a print on demand company? There's a lot of confusion about it because self publishing has changed a lot over the years. It's become a lot easier than it was 10 or 20 years ago, which is great for us as food bloggers.

At the most basic level, what a print on demand company does is print your book on demand. Which means somebody purchases your book on Amazon or through some other ways that I will talk about later in the course. That company gets an order, they print your book out and they ship it to the buyer.

In the old days, they had to print out 500 or 1,000 copies of your book and ship it to you. And then you had to ship it to the people who were purchasing your book, so it's really freed up a lot of the logistical challenges that used to exist, not to mention the upfront costs you used to have to pay.

How Do You Work with a Printer?

So how do you work with a print on demand printer to get your book out there? It's actually a pretty easy process these days, which is lovely. It makes it a lot easier for us.

I always like to say the hard part of publishing a cookbook is writing the cookbook. That's where all of your time and energy is going to go.

The publishing part is pretty simple.

And this is true, regardless of whether you're self publishing or using a traditional publisher, the writing process is going to be where you spend all of your time and energy. I talk about some of the gotchas and things to keep in mind while you're creating your book in some of the other videos.

For this discussion, we're going to assume you have written your cookbook. It can be in any form. It can be in Word. It can be in the Note App, it can be in an email on your phone, whatever is easiest for you to use to write it.

You have your book written, it's ready to go. So how do you get it to a printer? How do you get it on Amazon is the big one that most people are worried about.

Lay It Out

The first step is to take your written book, all the content you have and design it and lay it out for whatever format you want to publish it in.

This course is all about print on demand, which means that you're going to want to put it into a PDF form so it looks nice when it's a printed copy of your book in someone's hand.

There's a lot of different ways to do this. My first book was done in Pages on my Macintosh. I've also done some in Microsoft Word. And then if you want to get fancier, you can use InDesign to lay them out.

And some people will even use something like Canva, even though that's not the most efficient way. Or Scrivener is another tool.

But you basically take all the written recipes, you design it and lay it out in a way that looks pretty.

How do you figure out what looks pretty? Turn to your cookbook shelf, pull out some of your favorite cookbooks and see what they do. I also go into more design considerations in future videos, but that's the easiest way to figure out what your design should look like. 

Create a PDF File

Once you fully laid out and designed your cookbook, you export it as a PDF file. Almost all word processing software can export as a PDF. Almost all programs on a Mac can save as a PDF.

Take that PDF and go to a print on demand printer. Amazon KDP and IngramSpark are the two major ones, but I will talk about a few different ones later.

Upload It and Fill Out Meta Information

In order to upload your PDF, you need to fill out a web form. It asks for a few things like the title, the author, and the description for the sales page.

Then you upload your PDF of the inside of your book. And then you also upload a PDF of the book's cover. The cover can be done in a lot of different ways as well.

After you submit those two files, it usually takes one to three days of processing. And then depending on what printer you use, it can be from free to about $100 to submit your manuscript.

Check Your Proof

Once it goes through the approval process, you can then order a physical proof that they will ship to you. You look it over to make sure everything is lined up correctly and make sure the quality is what you're looking for. Then you approve it.

After your approval, it shows up on Amazon in three to five days. At that point, you can start marketing it.

Market and Sell Your Book

When someone clicks on the Buy Now button, your printer will get an email saying someone purchased your cookbook. They print out the book and they ship it directly to that person. You never have to touch it again.

You don't need to order 500 copies of your book to store in your garage. It makes this whole process very, very simple.

So that's how the overall print on demand publishing works. You write your book. You lay it out and design it for print. You export it as a PDF, you submit the PDF along with some information to the print on demand publisher. Then it shows up on Amazon. And it's all about marketing, marketing, marketing from there.

The next video, we're going to talk about several of the different print on demand printers that are out there. Most of this course focuses on Amazon KDP, but there's IngramSpark and a few others that I at least wanted to mention so you know what your options are. And I'll help you with that coming up next.

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