book publishing services

Not Just Another Cookbook: Before and After

We don’t always have the opportunity to share a “before” image of an Orange Frazer creation. If you know our lead designer, Brittany, you know that she usually makes the magic happen with nothing but a manuscript and her own creative juices as her guide. However, for our recent cookbook project with custom client Colleen Brethen, we were given a mock-up of the book that she had been using prior to professionally publishing her recipes. It was a spiral bound collection she had put together herself, with a plastic cover (to protect from splattering, no doubt!), and cardstock pages. She asked us to create a glossy, professionally designed cookbook for her, and that we did! Colleen’s project had our creative team drooling every single day (it could be scientifically verified that our collective calorie intake quadruples when we are designing cookbooks), and we’re so excited to share the “before and after” images (excuse us while we break out the office cookies).

book publishing services, Not Just Another Cookbook
book publishing services, Not Just Another Cookbook
book publishing services, professional design, Not Just Another Cookbook
book publishing services, professional design, Not Just Another Cookbook

If you have a collection of personal or family recipes—bound or unbound, scribbled on recipe cards or typed out in chapters—we would love to help you create a professional and memorable cookbook that generations after you will cherish.

Comparing Apples to Apples: Four Tips for Choosing a Self-Publishing Company

916602_83133825 If you’ve been in the market for a book publishing service, you know that there are about a thousand different options, all offering varied templates, packages, offerings, and pricing structures.

It can be difficult to choose the right self-publishing company for you and your book when faced with a number of unequal factors. One package may break out all of the services and show the specific cost for each in an À la carte fashion, while others may bundle all of the services with the cost of production to give you a unit cost for each book that you’re producing.

It can make your head spin.

But there are general guidelines for comparing your various packages and quotes, and we’ve curated our own experiences with clients (and competitors) here to help you out.

1. Make sure you know exactly which services bundled packages include, so that you can accurately compare them to an À la carte list. We’ve had clients come in before with the list of services provided in a package from CreateSpace, Lulu, iUniverse, Xlibris, etc., and we can very quickly assure that all of these production services are included in our quote as well. Library of Congress, barcode, ISBN, “worldwide distribution” (read: Amazon listing), etc., are all standard services, but check with all of the potential companies to make absolutely certain that this is the case.

2. Calculate the unit cost of each book. Once you’ve determined comparable services, you’ll have to do some math to make a good decision. Determine how many books you are getting in each package, and break down how much you are paying per book. Then determine how many books you would have to sell (and at what price you could sell it) to break even (in each package).

3. Don’t let lofty marketing promises be a deciding factor. Some companies inflate marketing promises to lure authors. “Hollywood” packages are the worst offender. These packages will promise to send your manuscript to a special screenwriting consultant to determine whether or not your book could become a movie. The odds that this is a legitimate and reputable consultant are slim, and the odds that your manuscript will get a full and comprehensive review are slimmer. Only pay for what a company can actually give you, and that is a book.

4. Make sure your potential companies have a clean record and a solid reputation. There are a number of companies out there that continually find themselves in legal trouble for unconscionable practices, but unfortunately authors never seek out this information until they’ve experienced the worst. Look for reviews about the company online, see if they’re owned by a larger company, and if so, what the reputation of the parent company looks like. For example, Author Solutions owns a number of other companies, including Xlibris, iUniverse, and AuthorHouse, so while at first glance the lawsuit concerning Author Solutions may not seem relevant to you when you’re looking for feedback about Xlibris, you’ll discover once you follow the money that you’re actually looking at the same company. Be as informed as possible. To read more about common concerns with these companies, you can check out my post on the topic here.

Perhaps the hardest truth for an author in the publishing or self-publishing industry is that there is NO option that will allow him/her to avoid the hard work of marketing. In today’s industry, even authors picked up by traditional publishers do most (or all) of the marketing legwork, so unless you hire a PR company or a marketing guru, you shouldn’t expect a publishing company (traditional or self-publishing), to do this work for you. For more about the question of marketing in the self-publishing (or custom publishing) industry, you can read my post on the topic here.

This is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to comparing packages, quotes, and even your own goals and budget. If you live in the Cincinnati area and would like to learn more, you can attend my session at the Power of Stories: Personal History and Self-Publishing Expo. I will be exploring this same topic in greater depth and will be answering any and all questions.

Why "Cheap and Easy" Book Publishing Services Don't Always Cut It

Redefining Publishing In a recent article for TechCrunch, “How to Self-Publish a Bestseller: Publishing 3.0,” James Altucher traces the movement of publishing from the traditional, gatekeeper (or acquisition) model to today’s world of alternative, independent publishing. He also redefines publishing, arguing that it is no longer a difference between  traditional vs. self-publishing, but rather, a difference between professional and unprofessional publishing. A book could be traditionally published and remain unprofessional—with a poor cover or a lackluster marketing effort—or a book could be self-published with an excellent cover designer, editor, copy editor, and publicist and be a top-notch, professional product.

Our editor, John Baskin (right), working with custom book publishing client, Phil Nuxhall (left).

He traces the evolution of publishing through three primary stages: publishing 1.0 is the traditional, gatekeeper model (a system besieged by inefficiency and challenged by digital innovation), publishing 2.0 is the “cheap and easy” online self-publishing boom of 2010, and publishing 3.0 is the movement toward professional, well-orchestrated, self-published books.

At Orange Frazer, we welcome publishing 3.0, and here’s why.

Publishing 3.0 prizes craft, insisting that the best books require compelling and well-designed covers, impeccable editing and proofing, and smart publicity. With over three million books published every year, publishing 3.0 understands that only the professionally published books will stand out, and that traditional, capital-P-Publishers in New York are not necessarily the route to the most professional product. Altucher notes that the best of the best in the industry are moving into this new age of publishing; this is certainly what we have done at Orange Frazer.

Publishing 2.0: Cheap, Easy, Accessible, and Ubiquitous 

At Orange Frazer, we have been helping clients custom publish books for twenty-six years, and our book publishing services have evolved in that time to meet an ever-shifting demand. A few years ago, a parallel industry (publishing 2.0) emerged, an online, self-publishing behemoth with low barriers to entry and unbelievable potential. It seemed like every other week we were hearing about the latest “stars” of self-publishing. The story was always the same: they started off with a few Kindle self-published titles, sold and sold and sold until they hit the tens of thousands, and then the large, deep-pocketed publisher swooped in to pick them up and make them famous (this is the part of the story where they start selling hundreds of thousands of books, and, if you’re Penguin and you happened to pick up Fifty Shades of Grey, you are giving all of your employees $5000 Christmas bonuses, too).

Online self-publishing was, and still is, cheap and easy. You write your book in a Word document, upload the finished manuscript, create a cover using the provided tools, and that’s it. With a few clicks your book is available to the world, and you are an author.

This was an incredible move forward technologically, and it opened up the worlds of reading, writing, and book publishing to thousands that would not otherwise have been privy to them. The industry has employed thousands through various online outlets—Snapfish, Kindle Select, CreateSpace, Lulu, etc.—and it has made writing a viable career for many Americans.

Publishing 3.0: Professional Book Publishing Services

But this route isn’t necessarily for everyone, and it certainly isn’t for every book. Publishing 3.0 is a move toward a high-quality, finished, professional product. Take book covers, for example. An experienced book designer breaks down the elements of a successful book cover—the primary colors, the font, the text size, the image (is it literal or conceptual?), and even its associated genre (does it say mystery, crime, romance, literary fiction?). Book designers spend years perfecting their craft until they can create compelling covers that draw readers in and invite their questions and curiosity. Book covers aren’t just cover pages, they are artistic visualizations of a text or concept, and they tell the reader quite a lot with limited time and space.

And these kinds of book covers take time and talent. Our lead book designer, Brittany, has this graphic by Colin Harman posted next to her computer, and I think it is both humorous and fitting:

Graphic Design Image by Colin Harman

Altucher insists that in publishing 3.0 the author should curate each piece individually—the editor, designer, proofreader, publicist, etc. You can certainly go this route, but it may be time-consuming (you're doing a lot of "shopping around," so to speak). As an alternative, you can allow the publishing house to curate these pieces for you and invest in custom book publishing services. Orange Frazer has spent twenty-six years finding the best writers, editors, designers, photographers, researchers, indexers, and printers, ensuring that every book is a professional and high-quality product that we can put our name on. We insist on publishing 3.0, because we believe that authors and readers deserve the best books possible.

The pages of Revealed: Columbus arranged in our publisher's office. At OFP, each page is designed individually.

When is publishing 3.0 appropriate? Perhaps you are celebrating a milestone for your company, an anniversary, or even a family reunion. You may have a collection of stories to pass down to your grandchildren, or a portfolio of professional photographs that you would like to showcase. Maybe it is the companion piece to a museum exhibit or a novel that you hope to circulate among reviewers. There are times when you need a professional and high-quality product that represents your hard work and talent. And in a world besieged by books, you need to stand out.

What are your thoughts? We love to hear about our readers’ experiences, so share below in the comments if you feel so moved.

Partner with Book Publishing Services to Stand Out

“Think about it this way. If you had told every museum and law firm in 1995 that they needed a web page, many would have wondered “what for?” If you had told them in 2005 that they needed a Facebook presence or in 2008 that they needed a Twitter stream, they would have wondered why. We’ve reached the moment when they all need a publishing strategy, and that will be as obvious to all these entities in a year or two as web pages, Facebook pages, and Twitter streams look now.” --Mike Shatzkin, Atomization: publishing as a function rather than an industry

Book Publishing Services that Market, Brand, and Inspire

Orange Frazer Press is a publishing partner to a new industry

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Wherever you turn these days, you will find another business blogger singing the praises of publishing. And this is not publishing as it once was, a gatekeeper model designed to separate the wheat from the chaff, but an evolving and fluid term applied to individuals, enterprises, nonprofits, and more, which enter the publishing arena with digital or physical books. As publishing becomes a tool accessible to many, the “atomization” of publishing is already happening. Businesses and institutions are now becoming “publishers,” disrupting an industry already in turmoil over e-book self-publishing. However, it is a disruption that Orange Frazer has been prepared for, one that allows us even greater opportunity to embrace custom book publishing partnerships with businesses, institutions, and individuals.

But from many bloggers and thought leaders, the prescribed route has been DIY. Thought leaders generally advise a self-directed approach, suggesting you hire on an editor, designer, etc., start with an e-book, and learn the business yourself. Even in recognizing the pitfalls of this approach, they generally compare DIY to traditional publishing, leaving out the wealth of options in between or generalizing these options, lumping all author services companies together with mega-companies like iUnivere and Xlibris (see our past post about the dangers of these companies and self-publishing models here). Thus, in this line of thought, it’s either go the gatekeeper model or master the details of digital files, print specs, conversions, warehousing, shipping, etc. and distribute your book like a business card.

However, we’ve been in the business long enough (twenty-six years) to see where the DIY approach breaks down, where it becomes cumbersome and upsetting, and where, unfortunately, it leaves many overwhelmed and resigned.

Why even self-publishing needs publishers

What is EPUB? What is your comfort with CSS? What is the primary e-book distribution channel for libraries? What about the proper margins for a print book? Photo resolution? Bindings and paper weights? The publishing and printing industries are fraught with insider jargon and necessary expertise. Publishers are publishers because they have every last detail perfected, the process streamlined, the creative process specialized. We employ the best photographers, writers, editors, printers, proofers, and many, many more. There are a number of seemingly invisible decisions that must be made throughout the process, and frankly, having spent over a quarter century perfecting our process, we know that we do it well. It can be incredibly time-consuming to teach yourself this process, and for many businesses and institutions, it’s just not time you have, as you are too busy being the best in your own industry.

Publishing partners: custom publishing as a solution for forward-thinking businesses

Publishing partnerships are emerging as a progressive, collaborative process that has the ability to bring the best books to market for each business. In fact, The Economist announced last week that it will be partnering with PublicAffairs to publish ten books annually, entering into the publishing world with an experienced partner.

At Orange Frazer, we took note of this industry shift about two decades ago. We were commissioned by the Iams Corporation in the ’90s to create custom materials for veterinarians all over the world. It had a hefty amount of research that needed published, and it needed a small and versatile publisher to take it on, one willing to have a personal relationship with it, that could make the creative process as iterative as possible. We became that company, entering into a world that still lacked a name or definition. Our publisher, Marcy Hawley, decided one day to call it custom publishing, because we felt that the books we were able to create for our clients were truly one-of-a-kind, as template-irreverent and perfect as possible. We knew that as custom book publishers, we could take on the needs of businesses, nonprofits, educational institutions, and others to create professional, branded, and inspiring products for a new generation of businesses.

For those forward-thinking institutions ready to take on publishing, check out our website for custom publishing options, or shoot me an email at [email protected]. And check back here for more in this series.

Why Book Publishers are Like Carpenters: The Craftsmanship of Custom Book Publishing Services

I was talking to a friend of mine the other day, a local woodworker that I met back in my donut-peddling days in high school, and as we were sharing what we are currently doing, how busy we are, etc., I had an interesting thought. I was describing to him how Orange Frazer views our book publishing services, how much I’ve learned in my time here about book production and the craft of building beautiful, long-lasting books, and realized that, in truth, I was talking to someone of the same trade.

Dan Thirey of Thirey Fine Woodworking is a woodworker, a craft carpenter, a maker of customized wood cabinets and counters and cupboards and shelves. He can remake your kitchen or restore your furniture. He is, put simply, a true craftsman. I knew that as I described our publisher’s view of a book, the importance of the binding, the resilience and gloss of the dust jacket, the direction of the grain on the paper, that I didn’t need to explain myself—he got it. As he smiled and nodded, I realized, he understands what it means to create a product whose value resides in its endurance, whose worth is often measured sentimentally or nostalgically, whose purpose is not industrial or transitory, but emotional and permanent. When you step into his shop (which I highly recommend if, like me, you can still remember the sharp scent of woodchips in your grandfather’s basement workroom) you step into another world: a world that still understands the value of individuality and quality, beauty and permanence.


It is this world that you step into when you visit Orange Frazer. We are seven people, six rooms, two warehouses, and over four hundred titles. Our books adorn the office like diplomas, memories of accomplishments and relationships throughout the years displayed proudly. Walk into our publisher’s office and you will be greeted by armchairs, not desk chairs, a view of Main St., Wilmington, not a view of the neighboring high rise. This individuality extends to our product as well. You will notice that an Orange Frazer book is heavier, that its binding is stitched, that its pages will always open and lie flat, that each interior page is its own canvas. Orange Frazer books look and feel different than other books, because we believe that books should be strong, durable, and beautiful. Our publisher, Marcy, hasn’t ordered a tote bag in years because she can’t find anyone who still works with strong canvas. She is a perfectionist when it comes to materials, and even more so when those materials build our books.

When it comes to custom publishing, Orange Frazer insists on craftsmanship. Whether you are publishing a memoir, a business or corporate anniversary book, a photography collection, a family history, a poetry chapbook, or a children’s book, we will make sure that your product is exactly what you want.

Because we just don’t know how to do it any other way.