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Self-Publishing a Book: How to Choose a Printing Company

A press operator working in a printing factory

Are you Planning to Self-Publish a Book?

Self-Publishing continues to grow in popularity because it gives book authors complete control over the publishing process. Instead of taking direction from a publishing company, self-published authors make all the decisions regarding their book's content, cover artwork, pricing structure, distribution, and marketing strategy.

Another decision self-published authors are free to make is choosing the printing company they want to produce their book. Finding the right printer is crucial to achieving the desired quality, cost-effectiveness, and timely production of the book. With that in mind, below are 11 key factors self-publishers should look for in a printing company.

A worker at a printing company holding a printed book
Inspecting a Perfect Bound book after it has been trimmed to size

11 Factors to consider when choosing a Printing Company to produce your Book

1. Quality of Work: Naturally, you will want to select a printing company that consistently produces high-quality printing. Requesting samples of their work will help you gauge the quality level first hand. If possible, try to get samples that have similar features to your particular project. Examine the samples closely to ensure they have crisp text, vibrant ink colors, and exhibit an overall attention to detail.

2. Printing Capabilities: Make sure the printer has the presses to match your specific printing requirements. Digital presses are ideal for producing short runs of books and offset presses are better for larger runs. Finding a printer with both types of presses is a major plus because it will allow your book to be economically produced at lower quantities when it is first launched as well as the higher order quantities you'll need when demand for the book rises.

3. Years of Experience: It is important to research how long the printer has been in business. Longevity is a reliable indicator of success because it demonstrates that customer satisfaction has been sustained over time. Printing companies that prioritize long-term client relationships are the ones most likely to have a strong foundation in place, thus enabling them to service your needs well into the future.

4. Paper Selection: The type, weight, and finish of the paper you choose for your book's cover and pages will significantly impact the look and feel of the book. Unfortunately, some printers limit your paper choices to only a few standard options. Since you want the paper to be well-suited for the book's content and also satisfy your aesthetic preferences, find a printer that offers a wide paper selection so you can select the perfect stock for your project.

5. Binding Options: Some printers only offer certain binding types, so if you have a preference for a specific binding method (such as perfect binding, saddle stitching, spiral coil, wire-o, comb, or hardcover binding) make sure the printer you choose offers the binding option you need.

A hand holding open a printed comic book
Self-Publishing is extremely popular with Comic Book creators

6. Finishing Choices: If you want your book to have a unique appearance, find a printer that has an extensive finishing department. Finishing refers to various options that can be added after the ink has been applied to the paper. These finishing steps can greatly enhance the look and/or functionality of a book to help set it apart. Examples of finishing operations include gloss, matte, and soft touch coatings, protective laminates, and eye-catching enhancements such as embossing, foil stamping, or die-cutting. Folding, scoring, perforating, trimming, and drilling are other common finishing procedures.

7. Pricing Structure: Request quotes from multiple printers and compare the pricing. Be sure to consider not only the cost per unit but also any additional fees for setup, file preparation, proofs, and shipping. It is always better to focus on the best overall value rather than the absolute lowest unit price.

8. Turnaround Time: Consider the printer's turnaround time for printing and shipping. Have a discussion upfront to ensure they can meet your deadlines, especially if you have a specific launch date or event planned for your book. In that regard, be sure to plan well ahead and provide realistic target dates.

9. Proofing Process: Be sure to inquire about the proofing process that is offered by the printer. You should always have the opportunity to review and approve a digital or physical proof before the final printing begins. A digital proof refers to a proof in an electronic format, such as a PDF. Physical proofs or mock-ups are usually only provided upon request and are generally reserved for projects with atypical complexity. Bear in mind that physical proofs will almost always incur a charge for the proofs themselves plus a shipping fee.

10. Eco-Friendly Practices: If environmental sustainability is important to you, inquire about the printer's use of eco-friendly materials and processes, as well as participation in recycling programs.

A female office worker picking up the phone
Friendly and responsive customer service adds tremendous value to the book printing experience

11. Customer Service and Communication: This entry is placed last in the list, but not because it is the least important. It is actually one of the most important criteria and is strategically placed last to increase the chance it will be remembered. Selecting a printing company that has excellent customer service and communication skills is a vitally important part of the self-publishing experience. You want to select a company that not only meets your printing requirements but also takes an interest in your project, is responsive, provides clear explanations, and works hard to help you achieve your goals. So reach out to your short-list of printing companies with any questions or concerns you may have. Then assess their level of customer service before making your final decision. You'll be so glad you did!

Color Vision specializes in Book Printing!

For the past 40 years, Color Vision has been producing high-quality books at very affordable rates. We print and bind all types of books for self-publishers, including fiction and non-fiction, novels, biographies, how-to books, cookbooks, comic books and more.

As a full-service printer, we have digital presses to produce short run projects and offset presses to produce longer runs. This means we can accommodate your initial start-up needs as well as produce books in volume as you grow. We also offer a wide variety of binding and finishing options to make your book unique.

Plus, as a totally-custom printer, Color Vision offers just about any book size or binding style that you might want. We also stock a wide variety of paper types and can also custom order just about any specialty stock you might need. As far as ink colors, we can print your book using Full-Color process (CMYK), PMS Spot colors (Pantone), Black Ink only, Grayscale, or any combination of these color systems.

If you have any questions or want to discuss your book project, give us a call at 800-543-6299 and we'll be happy to help. Or, use our Quote Request form to send us the specifications of your project and we will email a quote to you.

Self-Publishing can be a very rewarding experience and we hope to be a part of your book's creative journey. As always, we look forward to assisting with your printing, binding, and finishing needs!

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Self-Published Books: What is an ISBN number? Do I need one?

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