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  • Short Run Printing: 5 Benefits

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    Digital Printing, Self-publishing

    Let’s evaluate how short run printing can benefit a self publishing author. One of the benefits of self-publishing your own book is that you are in charge of how and when it is printed. But along with that choice comes the reality that the author is also funding the printing process, unlike a traditionally published book whose printing costs are covered by the publishing company.

    Most authors, and especially writers who are new to the process, may not know exactly how many books to print or what kind of printing process to choose. Authors can either print their books in a short run printing utilizing digital technology or through offset printing, a more traditional printing method.

    But more and more, self-published authors are choosing short run printing to bring their work to print. But is short run printing the best choice for you? Let’s take a look at how to pick the right printing option for your next work.

    Short Run Printing vs. Offset Printing

    The two options available for printing your book are short run printing and offset printing and both of them result in beautiful, high-quality final copies of your book. But the way that books are printed through each is very different and as a result, authors may choose one over the other for specific reasons.

    Short Run Printing

    Just as the name implies, book printing that is done in a short run will only result in a few books up to around 2,000 copies of a book being printed at a time. Short run printing is also completed using digital printing technology that usually involves lasers that allow for a single-step printing process. Since full-color printing can occur easily during short runs, it is economical to run fewer copies at a time with this type of printing.

    Offset Printing

    Typically used by large publishing houses, offset is the printing style of choice for runs of at least 2,000 copies or more. Offset printing utilizes a single plate for each page of a printing job and a printing press to create the final printed project. Offset printing produces final projects through a multi-step process to transfer colors to the printed page and it has been used by traditional publishers for many years.

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    Reasons to Choose Short Run Printing

    Authors who choose to self-publish will need to fund their own book printing runs but printing large quantities of books can be expensive. Overall, investing in short run printing is usually the best option for those authors who are self-publishing for five impactful reasons.

    1. Less Financial Risk

    As a self—published author, any books you sell will be initially funded by you before they are sold, and then you can recoup your investment (and hopefully make a little money as well). But utilizing short run printing, authors can buy a small number of books upfront rather than thousands of books at a time.

    Then, once that smaller number has sold, the profits can be used to fund the next printing of copies to sell. Since short run printing can be ordered in as small of quantities as one single book at a time, authors can better manage upfront costs and only order more copies when it makes the most sense for their own book’s sales.

    Authors can choose to print large or small quantities of copies on their own timeline without being required to print huge numbers of books that may take a while to become a return on their financial investment.

    2. Lower Upfront Cost

    A big concern many self-publishing authors have is investing a huge amount of money upfront during the printing process. They probably spent quite a bit of time writing their book on their own time — and own dime – since there is no advance money coming in from a publishing house in anticipation of future book sales.

    Many writers who publish their work themselves also outlay some money toward formatting software to make formatting the book easier, while more funds may even be put toward professional support like editors or graphic designers that will help to create their book cover. With all of these potential expenses, self-publishing authors may be hesitant to order the large quantities of books that offset printing requires.

    Digital technology makes short run printing a much less expensive option for new authors that don’t know how quickly they will sell books. Authors will have a smaller financial risk with paying to print a few hundred books rather than thousands of books that may take a while to sell.

    3. Order Quantity Adjustments

    Especially for a new author without any book sales to use as a guide, deciding how many books to order can be difficult. Order too many books and you may have to hold on to them longer than you would like to; order too few and you will be faced with the same challenging decision all over again.

    And authors who choose to use a presale to help them get a good idea of how many books to order in the first place can get a more accurate count and avoid the dilemma. But even if you do send out a presale email to gauge buyer interest ahead of your book’s launch, it’s still possible to miss the mark with your estimations.

    If you order short run printing, you can change the number of copies at any time by adding the extra copies in as a new short run. But offset printing doesn’t have the capability to easily add copies since each run of books will need to meet the typical minimum order of 2,000 or more copies.

    4. Reordering is Simple

    With small minimum order requirements, short run printing of books is easy for authors to do when they run low on copies to sell or use. Authors who want to attend an unexpected conference may want to order an additional 50 or 100 copies to take with them, and short runs allow authors to do that at any time.

    And with some printing companies’ quick printing capabilities like Publishing Xpress’s quick ordering and delivery of short runs made possible through digital printing technology. Their standard production time for orders is 4 days post-proof approval so self-published authors can have a fresh copy in their hands in just a few days.

    Authors who utilize offset printing will not be able to reorder books at any time unless the minimum order is met, creating a potential disaster for self-published authors that want to take advantage of attending author events or restocking their books whenever possible.

    5. Shorter Turnaround Time

    Offset and short run have very different turnaround times. The time between when the order is placed and when you receive the final bound copy of your book is determined by the type of printing method that is used in each. For offset printing, additional production time is needed to allow the ink to dry and set up before the book can be bound and finalized.

    Coupled with the larger quantities that offset printers also require, authors that select this printing method will not receive their printed copies quickly in comparison to short runs that use digital printing methods. With digital printing that uses almost instantly drying ink from lasers to print each page, books can be immediately bound and shipped, resulting in a very fast turnaround time.

    And while a long turnaround time might be acceptable for the initial printing of a book, many authors may not want to wait extra weeks or longer for a reprinting of their book in fear of missing out on sales and the real possibility of slowing down the momentum that their book is currently enjoying.

    Scheduling a Short Run

    Choosing the right kind of printing method and the company to work with is a big decision for self-publishing authors. Dazzle Printing has decades of experience working with authors who see the value in using short runs of digital printing technology to transform their books into beautifully printed copies, ready to get into the hands of readers, in a matter of days.

    And authors who choose short runs for their books have the added benefit of being able to select a hard copy press proof of their book to hold in their hands to review prior to ordering their first run of books to be printed, a great way for authors to see what their book design choices will look like before investing in boxes of books. Dazzle Printing is ready to help you bring your book to print quickly and with the number of copies you need, whenever you need them.


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