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!