April 13

How to print a book that you’re proud to sell

    I know the doubts in your mind, “If I use one of those print on demand services, will it really look as good as the books at the bookstore? Or will my reader be able to tell that I self-published?” Let me put your mind at ease and assure you that the print on demand services have increased in quality dramatically over the last few years, and, no, your reader won’t be able to tell the difference between your book and a bookstore book, if you’ve hired professional designers. Let me walk you through, quickly and easily, how to print a book, so you can take that next step in publishing your book.

    How to print a book that looks and feels professionally printed.

    We live in an amazing age for book publishing. The print on demand services now allow you to print a book that is a paperback or a hardback, has a glossy cover or a matte cover, has white pages or off-white pages. You can customize your fonts, add photos or tables, and print any size you like. You can design your book exactly as you like it, and to set it all up for printing is either free or a one-time, reasonable fee.

    So, what are the best options for these print on demand services? I have five favorites, and let me walk you through each and in which cases each is most useful.


    CreateSpace is an Amazon subsidiary, so if you’re putting out an ebook, I would recommend uploading the ebook files to the Amazon Kindle platform and the paperback files to the Amazon CreateSpace platform. When you have a book for sale on Amazon, if you use CreateSpace to print the paperback, Amazon will give your book just a bit of a boost in visibility, and it’ll ship faster to Amazon customers.

    Pros: Syncs really well with Amazon, prices at a reasonable wholesale cost, and has good, solid quality
    Cons: Only available as a paperback, may not be good enough quality for a photo-heavy book (like a recipe or travel book)


    IngramSpark coordinates well with independent bookstores and libraries, particularly in the US. So, if you’d like to sell to bookstores, definitely upload your files to IngramSpark.

    Pros: Makes it easy to sell to bookstores and libraries, available as a paperback and a hardback, great print quality
    Cons: Set up fee of $25 to $50


    Nook is Barnes and Nobel’s print on demand platform, and it’s fairly new. I actually don’t have first-hand experience with the platform or the books. Here’s what I can tell you, though, if you want to have a shot at your self-published book being sold at a Barnes and Noble bookstore, upload your files to the Nook platform, then go to your regional store and ask if they’d be interested in printing and stocking your book.

    Pros: Makes distribution to Barnes and Noble bookstores possible, without a third-party distributor

    Cons: It’s new so there aren’t many authors with first-hand experience with the platform or print quality (although I assume it’s pretty good.)


    I actually don’t print our books through LuLu at all, but I tell you what I do use LuLu for: fake books. Sometimes an author will want to use a hardcopy of his book for promotional reasons, shooting a video, taking photos, whatever—but the book’s not ready, yet. What do we do? We create a new book project and upload the book cover image and a PDF with 200 blank pages. Amazon and Ingram don’t let you do this because a book like this isn’t viable in the marketplace (no one would buy a blank book). But LuLu doesn’t care, so we print fake books for promos.

    Pros: Lets you print blank books

    Cons: Doesn’t have the built-in distribution that CreateSpace, IngramSpark, and Nook do


    This is another platform that I don’t have first-hand experience with, but I do know that authors who are printing photo-heavy books (like a recipe or travel book) prefer blurb because it has higher photo quality.

    Pros: High photo quality

    Cons: Doesn’t have the built-in distribution that CreateSpace, IngramSpark, and Nook do

    So, where does Paper Raven Books upload?

    We use CreateSpace for paperbacks and IngramSpark for hardbacks. If the author is in the UK or Australia, we will also upload the paperback to IngramSpark because they have production facilities in the UK and AU, so the author can have boxes of books shipped to her door with domestic shipping charges.

    We use LuLu for fake promo copies of the book, if the author requests. And we use the Nook platform if the author would like to pitch his book to Barnes and Noble.

    We haven’t used Blurb because our books aren’t photo-heavy, but I’ve heard great things about them.

    I hope that helps!

    What about you? Now that you know how to print a book, where do you think you’d most likely print your book?


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