Self-Publishing

Count the Seven Fruits of Israel: Before and After

One of our favorite parts of the publishing process is the joy of bringing a client's project to life. When our custom book client, Polly Jordan, came to us with her fun idea for a lift-the-flap children's board book, we were excited to do just that. In order to better explain her vision, Polly showed us her mock-up of Count the Seven Fruits of Israel, which she delicately made by hand out of cut paper. Working with her unique concept and colorful paper-cut illustrations, we were able to make her idea into a reality. Along with the creation of die-cut flaps, the client also desired the addition of a handle that would allow small children to carry the book along more easily. The following before and after images highlight this transformation process. 

Here you can see the mock-up cover on the left beside the final cover on the right. 


One can compare an interior spread from the initial mock-up with the finished product below. We take pride in quality manufacturing and materials, which were especially crucial in the function of the flaps, handles, and rounded corners. 


Here is a more detailed look at a flap, which opens to reveal the inside of the pomegranate.


This is another before-and-after look at a different spread. The integration of the glossary directly onto the background and the addition of a scroll behind the verse added interest to these pages. 

You can purchase Count the Seven Fruits of Israel on our store. Have a book idea you would like to make tangible? Learn more about our work, and we would love to help you create a professional, quality product that stands the test of time.   

What you need to know before quoting your book

Once you’ve set your heart on publishing a book—whether it’s a memoir, a company anniversary edition, a business manifesto, or even an artist’s portfolio—it’s important to know all of your inputs before you determine the route of publication. Here are a few questions to ask yourself before you start calling printers and publishers:

How much time can you commit to the project? 
This will help you determine if a DIY route is feasible, or if you should focus on full-service publishers. 

Do you have a budget?
This will be the first question a publisher will ask you, because it determines whether or not the project is possible and whether or not the given publisher is a good fit. Knowing your budget before you reach out to publishers will save you time in the end.

Do you know where you’re getting the money?
Will this project require fundraising, or is it coming out of an annual marketing budget? Will it be paid for by a single donor, or by a grant or other group? Is the budget flexible, or do you have a set amount that can’t be exceeded? Knowing this will make the quoting process much simpler. If you’re planning on fundraising, then you may not have a set budget when you reach out for quotes, and that’s OK, just know what you can feasibly raise in your network to have a sense of what is realistic.

Will cost be the deciding factor? 
The costs of producing a book vary so widely depending on print run size, level of design and editing required, book specs (hardcover vs. softcover, full color vs. black and white), that it will be near impossible for a publisher to estimate the cost of your project without a few specific details. Know these five things when you approach a publisher, and you will get a better estimate (faster):

1.    Hardcover or softcover
2.    Black and white or full color
3.    Book size (6x9, 7x10, 9x12, etc.)
4.    Page count (or, even better, word count)
5.    Print run size (for an event better quote, ask for three different quantities, to see if there are price breaks)

These variables may change as your vision for the book evolves, but this will give you a starting point.

Are you approaching printers or publishers?
A printer will take all final artwork and print, whereas a publisher will offer/include additional services: research, writing, editing, design, photography, printing, binding, shipping, warehousing, distribution, marketing, etc. If you’re comparing printers to publishers, you’re comparing apples to oranges. One will depend on you to know exactly what you’re doing—preparing print-ready design files (professionally prepared files, not a Word document with images copied and pasted in)—and one will help you create the book from your raw materials (text, photos, illustrations, etc.).

These are just a few of the many questions you might ask yourself before pursuing your book project. Let us know if there are other questions you’ve come across when quoting a project!

What to do before publishing a book, Part 1: Create a Sales Plan

A sales plan is critical to making your book successful—and will be your guide in almost every decision you face in design and printing.

 Our clients, Marilyn and Nadine, as they load up their third print run of A Cincinnati Night Before Christmas. They donated the profits from their book to Cincinnati nonprofit adoption agencies, and sold it in retail establishments across the tri-state.

Our clients, Marilyn and Nadine, as they load up their third print run of A Cincinnati Night Before Christmas. They donated the profits from their book to Cincinnati nonprofit adoption agencies, and sold it in retail establishments across the tri-state.


Key questions to answer as you create your sales plan:

Who is your target audience? If you’re publishing a book for an anniversary, how large is your company, community, or organization, and how many within this group do you expect to actually purchase the book? If the book is for a more general audience, how many do you think you can sell within three months?

Why does this matter? You need to know how large your target market is to determine how many books you can conceivably sell, and consequently, how many books you should print in your first run.

Where do you plan on selling the book? Your website, local stores, national book store chains (Barnes & Noble, Books-a-Million, etc.), Amazon, your gift shop?

Why does this matter? This will determine how many access points you have to your target audience. If you’re only selling your book on your website or in your gift shop, this may limit the number you sell.

Do you need (or want) to make money on the book? Some of our clients only want to cover the costs of production, others want to donate profits to the organization or another nonprofit, and some see the book as an opportunity to build market share or extend the company/organization brand.

Why does this matter? This will determine how important the unit cost is in your decision. If you don’t need/want to profit off the book, then a smaller print run with a higher unit cost isn’t necessarily a bad idea. However, if you have a large target audience and you intent to profit off the book, then a larger print run with a lower unit cost is ideal.

How will you use the book? Is it a gift to donors or employees? A business development tool? A sales piece? A product for your gift shop?

Why does this matter? This determines certain quality decisions—hard cover or soft cover, black and white or full color, dust jacket, etc. For example, if the book is a gift to donors who give a specified amount during a capital campaign, the book’s perceived value/quality needs to be fairly high. A cheaply produced book given to high-dollar donors undermines the gesture. 

These four questions are critical starting points for your sales plan. You may also consult friends and family with experience—anyone who has published or sold a book before, or anyone who has experience in marketing/sales. You can also refer to writers’ blogs online for helpful input on marketing and promoting your book—these resources may also have personal stories that resonate with your goal and may help clarify how to publish and sell your book.

Are there too many books?

Post written in response to Tanja Tuma’s piece on a Frankfurt Book Fair panel asking the same question This is a question I have tried to highlight at every publishing workshop I lead. Are there too many books published today? But every time we, as a group, or as publishers and authors individually, try to answer this question, we come up with wildly different responses—yes, the rate of publishing is eclipsing the rates of reading and buying; no, there could never be too many books in the world; yes, print runs are shrinking every year; no, readers are still struggling to find great books. These diverse responses, I believe, stem from an incomplete question.

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Are we asking:

• Are there too many books published today for first-time, self-published authors to be profitable?

• Are there too many books published today for good books to be found by good, traditional publishers? 

• Are there too many books published today for small publishing houses to support even limited print runs?

• Are there too many books published today for readers to easily discover new books?

These are all pertinent questions. I’ll focus on the first question, as it is the most relevant to those who attend my publishing workshops and to our potential clients.

Are there too many books published today for first-time, self-published authors to be profitable.

I’ll say this much: it’s tough. Supply has outstripped demand. Tuma quotes author Gabriel Zaid, who observed “the reading of books is growing arithmetically; the writing of books is growing exponentially.”

Here’s how it breaks down:

Supply: There were 1 million published books in 2003 at the time of Zaid’s quote, and as of 2013 there are 28 million. The self-publishing industry alone has increased by over 436 percent since 2008, with 458,564 new titles in 2013 alone (and these numbers only account for those self-published books that actually acquired ISBN numbers, as tracked by Bowker).

In 2013 alone, there were 304,912 print books published by traditional publishing houses and just over 1 million print books produced in the non-traditional sector (print-on-demand, reprints, self-published books, etc.). Add to these figures e-books in both the traditional and non-traditional sectors of the market, and the figures are overwhelming.

Demand: American reading habits have declined over the last three decades. A Gallup poll in 1978 found that 42 percent of adults had read 11 books or more in the past year and that 13 percent had actually read more than 50 in the past year, but Pew’s report from 2014 shows that only 28 percent had read over 11 books in the last year, and nearly 25 percent hadn’t read a single book in the last year (contrasted to 8 percent reporting in 1978 that they hadn’t read a book in the past year).

The verdict: Both traditional authors and self-published authors are struggling to make a living off of writing. A survey presented at the 2014 Digital Book World Conference reported that 54 percent of traditionally published authors and almost 80 percent of self-published authors are earning less than $1,000 a year.

Is this a reason not to publish your book?

No.

It is, however, a reason not to publish your book for the money. A small portion of traditionally published and self-published authors will earn enough from their writing to make a living, but the vast majority will need to have a separate—and steady—source of income to support their writing. There are dozens of other reasons to publish—to establish authority in your field, to share your personal history with family and friends, to celebrate a milestone or anniversary, to see your passion in print, etc.—but fame and riches should not rank in the top ten.

Why do we have suggested minimums for your print run?

This post answers two questions about our quoting process for custom book publishing:

1. Why do we recommend minimum print runs?

2. Why don’t we use print-on-demand services for smaller print runs?

If you’ve ever requested a quote for custom book publishing services from Orange Frazer, you know that we request five primary pieces of information: hardcover or softcover, word count, black and white or full color, book size (dimensions), and quantity (or print run). When a client discusses a project with us for the first time, he/she often has no idea how many books to print, so we offer suggestions based on unique retail goals, the targeted audience, and cost. We want a client’s book to be successful, and we do not profit by upselling clients to thousands of books: often, we find ourselves convincing clients to print fewer books when we know that the investment in a larger print run may never see its return in sales.

We also have recommended “minimums” that vary based on the other manufacturing aspects of a book project. For example, if a client is printing a book in black and white, we suggest printing at least 250 copies, whereas for a full-color book, we would recommend starting out at 500 copies. This is often to keep unit prices low. A full-color book requires special paper that is more expensive, so printing more of these books will drive down the unit cost. These are suggestions—one can print any number of books from one to one million, but we do know what does, and doesn’t, make sense, so we try to offer recommendations for minimum print runs based on our experience.

So why isn’t it cost-effective to print less than 250 books?

Over the course of twenty-seven years, we have chosen the best book manufacturers in the industry to create our books. We rigorously judge the final product, and settle for nothing less than excellence in manufacturing. We want Orange Frazer books to last lifetimes. Books of this printing caliber are not at all cost effective when printed one-at-a-time, or even in quantities of less than several hundred. Unit costs of books in a short print run—e.g. of a full-color, hardcover book—through one of our book manufacturers would be exorbitantly expensive. It isn’t until the print run reaches several hundred that you see a unit cost that offers a client any potential profit margin. We know that because we have quoted thousands of book projects (and will quote thousands more) and so, to save the client time, we recommend minimums that we know will produce a more cost-effective quote.

To answer the second question, why don’t we transition our services to digital, print-on-demand publishing? The self-publishing industry has been trending toward small print runs (or no print runs) and higher unit costs. Print on demand is very cost-effective for beginning authors because books are only printed at the time of purchase. It’s better to spend $10 per book and ensure that every book printed is sold (as it is only printed once it is sold) than spend $5 per book and never sell 500 of them.

We believe that there is a great future for print-on-demand publishing (we recommend it to a lot of potential clients that request quotes from us), but for the clients that choose Orange Frazer, it doesn’t yet make sense.

Because we work with book manufacturers, rather than commercial printers or print-on-demand digital printers, we are able to do projects that many other companies can’t—coffee table books, specialty bindings and interiors, lay-flat books with glossy pages, and so on. Quality and unit cost are chief concerns. We are able to produce books of high quality (in both manufacturing and design) and deliver unit costs below that of print-on-demand alternatives.

But this is a lot to put into an email, so often, when a potential client requests a quote for a print run of twenty-five books, I point him/her toward a print-on-demand service, such as CreateSpace. If he/she requests one hundred books, I generally suggest considering a larger print run, to make the books more cost-effective. And if a client approaches us requesting a quote for ten thousand copies of his/her first novel, I generally say, “Hold up, and let’s first talk about your goal.”