I am mostly finished writing and have an illustrator so now my question is: What is reasonable to pay for printing? I got one quote for about $4000; that seems a bit expensive to me.”
To truly assess your quoted price I’d have to ask: How many copies and are you doing full-colour interior? Those aspects will significantly influence the price of printing. Other things that influence printing costs is trim size and binding type. At the moment I’m still having issues coming to terms with an acceptable printer so I can’t give you a firm sense of pricing but I’ll tell you what I know now from experience.
When I do Print On Demand (POD) with Amazon’s CreateSpace it works out to about $4 per copy plus shipping and because it’s shipping from the US it’s usually $50 for 1 book or $200 for 50 books bringing the per copy price to about $8 which is reasonable. Obviously the more you order the better the price per copy becomes because it gets cheaper. The trouble I’ve had with CreateSpace is that in the 10 proof copies I’ve ordered of “P.I. Penguin and the Case of the Missing Bottle” there is noticeable whitespace in the gutter. That makes me wary about using them for full-colour picture books. I do use them for novels and have been very happy with the quality and price.
I’ve also had one proof copy done through IngramSpark’s Australia branch. Their binding and gutter looks great but the paperstock was only 45gsm so I’ve put through the order again on higher quality stock paper. The 45gsm is very thin so you see the bleed through from the opposite side of the paper. IngramSpark (Lightning Source) are slightly more expensive than CreateSpace but again are POD so you can order in very small quantities. One issue with them is that they charge administration fees. It’s $50 every time you upload files which is frustrating during the preparation stage. For example, I have one proof copy from them so far and have spent more than $100 for that because it’s been two sets of uploads at $50 each, plus express production and shipping for the proof copy.
I’ve recently attended some professional development workshops about children’s book publishing and have had a couple of local printers recommended to me. There are some advantages of going local with your printing company as well as some disadvantages. I’ll be approaching a few local printers for quotes over the next week so I’ll know more soon.
At the workshops we were told to expect to spend about $6000 for 2000 copies full-colour from a local printer. Because you have to order in higher quantity and it’s not POD you’re responsible entirely for distribution which can be challenging and adds a warehousing dimension to the self-publishing journey. It is more expensive upfront, but when you do the math it works out to $3 per copy which is actually comparable and in some cases cheaper than POD. It is, however, a significantly larger investment upfront and therefore there is a greater chance of not returning on the investment.
While producing a picture book is relatively inexpensive, printing does add up quickly. You have to remember that your printing costs are directly correlated in the retail price of the book and that the stock you order is a business asset. Even if you have 2000 copies sitting in boxes in your garage you have thousands of dollars worth of stock that should sell over time with ongoing marketing and distribution (assuming the book is good). It’s an investment in product rather than an expense.
I hope this helps. I’d love to know who you got the $4000 quote from and for how many copies that quote was for. As I mentioned, I’m still on the hunt for a printer I’m 100% satisfied with so am always interested to hear of those available who provide quality service.
Congratulations on the production of your book. I look forward to seeing it!
If you have a question about writing books for children or publishing, drop me an email and I’ll tell you more!