The Power of Print-on-Demand for Self-publishing

The Power of Print-on-Demand for Self-publishing

Let’s face it, if you’re reading this, you likely want to self-publish something. You’ve probably heard about Print-on-Demand books and you’re ready to deepen your understanding. 

Well, luckily, here at 3 ferns, our goal is to demystify and help you navigate your self-publishing journey with confidence and ease. 

In this blog, we’ll explore what Print-on-Demand is, why it could be beneficial for you, and some cautions to keep in mind.

What is Print-on-Demand?

Print-on-Demand is a publishing model where, unlike traditional publishing deals that require an author and a publishing company to contract for a set number of books, you get to choose how, when, and how much of your books will be printed at a certain time. 

Just as the name says, Print-on-Demand books are books that are only printed as they are ordered. Think of it like food at a restaurant that’s made to order, it’s not a fast food chain that has your food ready to go, but it’s made for you when you ask for it.

In recent years, Print-on-Demand books have been growing in popularity. More and more people are wanting their stories heard but sometimes the traditional publishing can be rather restrictive, and it may be difficult to get anyone to pick up your book.

Self-publishing may seem like a daunting task but the Print-on-Demand  model can make it easier for people wanting to start their publishing journey.

Why It Could Be Beneficial?

Let’s go over a few of the reasons why Print-on-Demand is an option that many self-published authors choose. 

Ease and Accessibility

Print-on-Demand platforms are designed to be user-friendly. There’s a plethora of services you can choose from, which means that you can find the platform best suited for you and your needs. 

Print-on-Demand platforms streamline the process from uploading your manuscript to printing and even handling the logistics to get the books to customers. This takes the pressure off of authors who might not be tech-savvy.

With this, you can focus on the more creative aspects of your book journey, such as the actual writing and the ever so infamous and important marketing strategy.

Illustration of a hand with a megaphone inside a cellphone. Yellow background with green leaves.

Inventory

Say goodbye to towers and towers of books waiting to be sent off!

One of the biggest pros people might share when it comes to Print-on-Demand, is that there is no need to worry about inventory management. You won’t be staring at unopened boxes full of your precious writing. Since books are printed as orders come in, you don’t need to store large quantities of books, saving you space and the hassle of managing unsold stock.

Scalability

Print-on-Demand offers excellent scalability. Whether you need a single copy for a proof or hundreds of copies for a book launch, Print-on-Demand can accommodate your needs without any additional setup costs.

You can start with small print runs to gauge interest and gradually increase production as demand rises. With this kind of flexibility, you’ll make sure that you never overextend your resources or face the challenge of managing excess inventory. 

When your book starts gaining popularity, you can seamlessly scale up production without the delays or costs associated with traditional printing methods. This dynamic approach enables you to respond quickly to market trends and reader preferences, ensuring your book is always available when needed

Profitability

This model typically has a higher per-unit cost compared to traditional printing methods (up to 60% profit per unit!). This means that while the initial investment is lower, the profit margins per book sold can be thinner. It’s crucial to factor this into your pricing strategy where you can make the best profit while ensuring it’s fair to your readers.

With the rise of niche markets and readers getting more and more specific about what they want to read – the exclusivity and interest has allowed a slight price increase for certain books with specific topics. With the right strategies, good marketing, optimized pricing, and quality assurance, Print-on-Demand and self-publishing can be very lucrative!

Cautions

As wonderful as it is, Print-on-Demand is definitely not a walk in the park. Here are some things to look out for when considering this option.

Price

Print-on-Demand may be cost effective. You only pay for what you print every time you need to make an order, which can help you manage your costs better. 

However, it is important to note though that some Print-on-Demand services may ask for a “joining” or “setup fee”. This does not apply to some of the more popular options like Amazon Kindle Direct Publishing or Barnes & Noble Press. You will also need to allocate a budget for editing and design services. 

Where traditional publishing would cover all of these things, including marketing, with Print-on-Demand, and self-publishing in general, this part is up to you.

Quality Control

While Print-on-Demand technology has improved significantly, there can still be variability in print quality. It’s essential to review proofs and be aware that the quality might not always match that of traditional offset printing.

We recommend batch testing by ordering one or even small batch orders to see how your books look when they have been shipped out.

It’s rather a common issue with Print-on-Demand that with very large batches, there may be some pieces that have printing errors or have been damaged in the shipping process. Usually though, self-published authors manage this by doing smaller orders at a time.

What Do We Think? 

With Print-on-Demand, the trade-off for the convenience is really just accepting that the print quality is variable and out of your hands. However, if you’re open to this flexibility, it’s absolutely a cost-effective and easy to start solution. Starting with small orders can help minimize potential printing errors, allowing you to address any issues before scaling up.

Get In-Depth Guidance!

If you’re considering Print-on-Demand for your self-publishing journey, personalized guidance can make all the difference. Schedule a complimentary Clarity Call with Leesa Ellis to explore how Print-on-Demand can fit into your publishing strategy and get expert advice specific for your needs!

Leesa’s experience and insights will help you navigate the world of self-publishing with confidence.

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Build Your Brand: The Power of Self-publishing

Build Your Brand: The Power of Self-publishing

It’s undeniable, we are deep in the digital age. It seems every day we are faced with a new option on how to build a brand. Whether you want to post on social media platforms, tell your story through blogs, or talk to a dedicated group through podcasts, there’s a place for you to start. However, one medium stands out as highly effective, and tried and true: the book. 

Why books?

With the rise of short form video content, books can seem old fashioned but there is a reason that books have remained on our shelves both physically and digitally throughout the centuries. There’s nothing quite like the published word. 

There has been a massive shift in the publishing landscape and it’s called print-on-demand technology. Self-publishing is an effective tool in making all kinds of books even more accessible and getting different stories and ideas out into the public. Now, anyone with a story to tell or knowledge to share can become a published author.

That said, what is it about books that makes them the top choice?

Being a published author, especially in the West, holds a lot of weight. You’re seen as someone with authority on a certain topic and are viewed with a level of respect. People can easily believe that you have expertise in your field because you have physical proof.

Books are easy, straightforward, and simple. You don’t need to have taken a course or booked a complicated class. All you need is a copy of the publication and you just start. This makes it an affordable and accessible entry point for people looking to learn about your niche topic. 

More than that, a book offers the maximum opportunity for global distribution. With the rise of online marketplaces and eBook platforms, authors can reach audiences around the world with one swipe. This level of exposure is invaluable for building brand recognition and expanding your reach.

Brand-building and leveraging

Whether you’re a CEO, executive, or a professional in your own right, having a personal brand can make or break your career. With a book, you are establishing an avenue for people to know exactly who you are and what you bring to the table. This will make it that much easier for you when it comes to negotiating salary increases, seeking new opportunities, or solidifying your reputation as an industry and thought leader.

With a well-curated and specific brand, any blogger, podcaster, or small business owner can build their business brand for Impact, Money & Authority™. When you have a clear brand, you become impactful and able to reach the audiences who will resonate with your message. This clarity boosts your sales potential because your content is always valuable. Most importantly, it positions you as a leading authority in that niche. You know what you’re talking about because you wrote a book about it – you’re an authority because you’re an author!

Get your message out there

Beyond building your brand and getting your book published, it’s important for your words to have some reach. 

Find opportunities, outside the pages of your publication, for people to hear more about what you have to say. Many authors, especially those in the picture book space, choose to create merchandise based on their book. 

We’ve seen baseball caps, tee shirts, tote bags, hoodies, coffee mugs, posters, downloadable printables and more! Anything that comes to mind that supports a need of a certain niche can be turned into merchandise to bolster your brand!

Outsourcing production has never been easier with print-on-demand providers ready to help at the touch of a button, you can, as an author, focus on marketing your book – and the merchandise – to maximize your royalties. 

By outsourcing production and fulfillment to expert providers, authors can focus on marketing their products and maximizing royalties. This extra source of income not only increases earnings but also strengthens brand identification and encourages better reader interaction.

Be inspired

Let’s take a look at two case studies to show the success that comes from properly building your brand when you self-publish:

CASE STUDY #1: Dawn Reeby

When Dawn started her career in Law Enforcement, Crime Analysis wasn’t a discipline in Law Enforcement.

Over the last few years, Dawn has built a coaching business to help Law Enforcement professionals use Data Analytics in

How Leesa and 3 ferns helped

Dawn engaged 3 ferns to help self-publish her second book, Building a Crime Analysis Legacy. This book was to help the leaders of Data Analysis in Crime Analysis to provide the organizational structures and infrastructure that would enable the Data Analysts to perform at their best.

Leesa’s approach to self-publishing helped Dawn by laying out the self-publishing process and guiding Dawn through each step, spending as much time as Dawn required.

Leesa was able to understand what Dawn was trying to accomplish with the book, and provide the necessary support and guidance. For instance, Leesa was able to communicate what Dawn’s objectives were for her book to the 3 ferns’ Book Cover Designer, and the designer came up with a book cover in the first take!

The outcome

Towards the end of the engagement, Dawn’s business gained the attention of some educational institutions and when she shared this with Leesa, Leesa was able to make some suggestions on how the book could be further edited, which would help gain the attention of these institutions. Dawn’s book was then included in some educational courses.

  • Opened up a Leadership School – gave Dawn the courage to open up a 9-month program with the book.
  • Teaching at conferences – and allowed Dawn to share the book.

The book provides great value to the industry.

CASE STUDY #2: Shelley Loving

After starting and growing a successful business in nutrition, Shelley decided to write a cookbook about inflammation and anti-inflammatory cooking.

While Shelley knew she wanted to write the book, she didn’t have any idea of what to do to get the book published. Shelly needed someone who would hold her hand through the book writing process. Shelley needed to know how to bring her vision for the book .

Shelley found Leesa and 3 ferns through other book authors and connections who had worked with Leesa and were happy to make the introduction.

How Leesa and 3 ferns helped

Leesa was a great support to Shelley. Shelley was clear on the vision she had for her book and Leesa quickly came to understand Shelley’s vision and supported Shelley every step of the way.

Leesa made the process of self-publishing her book seamless and her service was “invaluable”.

Leesa was always available to answer any question Shelley had and very accessible throughout the process.

In particular, when it was time to hit the “publish” button, Leesa walked through the whole process as Shelley finalized the publication.

The outcome

Writing this book enabled Shelley to open doors to new publicity and opportunities. As an example, Shelley met with a media producer who included Shelley’s business in his newsletter which has a 47% open rate. This resulted in 4 TV interviews and 8 radio interviews.

He included Shelley a few more times in his newsletter throughout the next year and each time, this gave Shelley the opportunity to do more TV and radio interviews.

Shelley gifted her book to an acquaintance whose husband experiences health challenges.

This person asked Shelley if she would do a book signing at her boutique and be the featured guest for the holiday season. This allowed Shelley to expand her customer base even more.

Start your publication now

Self-publishing a book and sharing your message has never been simpler or more effective than it is right now. 

Remember that while there are countless strategies for brand-building in today’s digital age, few offer the same level of impact and authority as publishing a book. Whether you’re an aspiring author or a seasoned entrepreneur, it’s time to get unstuck and get started!

Schedule a complimentary call with Leesa to find out more about building YOUR brand with a book:

Oooh Caroline: The Importance of Intellectual Property

Oooh Caroline: The Importance of Intellectual Property

I’ll try not to make this post too wordy but something has been weighing on my mind this week and I thought I’d share it with you.

Scrolling funny videos on social media recently, I came across a real gem which you will see linked in this post. The content creator is known on YouTube as Lubalin and it was animated by the illustrator known as Javadoodles. Take a look, it really is a good one!

But I couldn’t stop thinking about it over the following week. And my thoughts were turning to a more serious topic (don’t worry, this isn’t going to be a dry, humorless lecture!) 😄

At first glance, this is peak internet drama. Helen is venting on social media – a really common thing to do, nothing out of the ordinary there.

It seems that 8 years prior, a so-called friend or acquaintance by the name of Caroline had stolen her beloved broccoli casserole recipe. And then claimed it was HER creation and not Helen’s! Just WOW 😳 Instant deletion from the group Whatsapp chat is the minimum I would have done.

Helen has been, quite rightly, resentful and angry about this. For EIGHT YEARS. It’s not something you let go of easily. YOUR recipe and intellectual property. STOLEN. And then flaunted as belonging to the thief. Did I say this already? Just WOW 😱🤯

It might be easy (for some) to brush this off as “a petty grievance”. But if you saw this situation happen between two celebrity chefs, would you dismiss it so easily? I know that’s a whole different level of importance but really, is it? The stakes may be higher in that case but I suggest that it’s just as important to Helen as it is to the chefs.

Helen had her intellectual property stolen. She was wronged and my empathy is with Helen.

As a Self-publishing Mentor, my Team and I help nonfiction writers self-publish a brand-building book. We firmly state that we are an AI-Lite business. It’s so difficult to avoid totally (thanks, Gmail predictive replies – NOT!) but we do not use AI tools in our writing processes for our marketing or for our clients. We do not use AI-generated art in our book cover designs (ask me how the US Copyright Office reacts to AI art on book covers, it’s wild!). We also do not accept manuscripts from potential clients which have been written by AI.

AI, as Noam Chomsky so eloquently put it in my Facebook feed this week, is a “Plagiarism Machine”. I’m with you there, Noam!

It creates those social media posts and yes, manuscripts by scouring the internet and burgling OTHER PEOPLE’S INTELLECTUAL PROPERTY to rewrite as a bland, mediocre, and often inaccurate mishmash that does not benefit either the author or the reader.

Typically you can spot AI writing a mile off. Weird phraseology and hyper-florid vocabulary are usual indicators. There are AI detection tools but sadly, they are not always 100% accurate themselves.

Of course, AI can be useful for summarizing your own content or writing an outline on which you base the manuscript on that you then write YOURSELF. There are even closed loop systems where you input SOLELY your own content for AI to do its thing. It’s fast. It can give good ideas for thinking more deeply about your writing and content. But for me, AI is like fire – “a good servant but a bad master.” There is potential to get BURNED.

“You can’t copyright an idea, only the expression of that idea.” However, AI’s expression of other people’s ideas tends to be pretty shoddy. We encourage and support our clients to create their own QUALITY writing that will be a credit to them and give true value to the reader. Once again, that’s my two cents. IMHO.

And this brings us back to Helen, still p*ssed off after eight years for having HER intellectual property stolen. What do we tell her? Tough luck? Drink a cup of concrete and harden up? Or do we understand that when we create a work of art or write a book – or a RECIPE – the copyright belongs to us BY RIGHT. In the US, you can assert this right to make it easier to take legal action against mimics (hello, US Copyright Office!). Caroline needs to take a long hard look at herself and ‘fess up IMHO.

This DID turn out to be pretty wordy in the end LOL! 😄  But I promise you it was 100% written by Leesa Ellis, a Real Human™ in Dunedin, New Zealand. My thoughts. My writing. No AI.

Helen, if you ever see this, I’m with you. #TeamHelen

Let’s expose AI for what it is – a “Plagiarism Machine”. #TeamCaroline

Are you #TeamHelen or #TeamCaroline? Flick me an email and let me know! 😄

Or schedule a complimentary 20-minute call with me on my calendar below. Chat soon!

Maximize Your Reach, Minimize Your Stock: Amazon Advantage

Maximize Your Reach, Minimize Your Stock: Amazon Advantage

As a self-published author, or an aspiring one, you’re likely exploring ways to get your book out there. The vast array of options and resources can be daunting, leaving you wondering where to even start.

In this article, we will explore some of the options available in the publishing space to help you understand what some publishers use to get their books distributed. Companies like Amazon offer several programs to manage distribution and sales, including Amazon Advantage, Seller Central, and Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP).

While Amazon Advantage isn’t necessarily ideal for self-published authors, it’s important to understand the different options available. In this article, we talk about Amazon Advantage and compare it with other Amazon programs, giving you a better understanding of available options out there.

What is Amazon Advantage?

Amazon Advantage is a consignment program aimed at publishers and producers of physical media like books, music, and videos. Here’s how it works:

Order Fulfillment: Once under Amazon Advantage, your inventory becomes part of Amazon’s stock. Amazon handles order fulfillment, shipping, and customer service. Essentially, it is an Amazon item. A book, for example, would ship with Prime’s free two-day shipping if the customer is an Amazon Prime member. You are responsible for initially shipping your inventory to Amazon warehouses.

Fees and Payment: Choosing Amazon Advantage would run you $99 annually. For each item sold, Amazon pays you 45% of the list price. 

Amazon Visibility: With Amazon Advantage, the company will promote or feature your product on their site. People will not necessarily need to search for it, it will become easily visible all over the Amazon site. However, Amazon retains control over the pricing of Advantage items. 

Exploring Amazon Seller Central

Amazon Seller Central, or also called Marketplace, provides a more hands-on approach compared to Amazon Advantage. Here’s what you need to know:

Order Fulfillment: With Seller Central, you are responsible for shipping books directly to customers when an order comes in. There is also an option to use Fulfillment by Amazon (FBA) where you ship inventory to Amazon’s warehouses and they handle fulfillment and shipping when an order is placed.

Fees and Payment: Seller Central offers two plans:

  • Individual Plan: $0.99 fee per item sold, plus a 15% referral fee and $1.80 closing fee per book. Amazon provides reimbursements for shipping costs.
  • Professional Plan: $39.99 monthly fee, plus the same 15% referral and $1.80 closing fees per book. Shipping reimbursements also apply.

Amazon Visibility: Customers will need to search for your book on Amazon and you will be marked as a third-party seller. Some people may see this as a disadvantage, but that’s really up to the buyer’s perception. The upside of using Seller Central is that you can control the pricing of your books, ensuring consistency with other sales channels.

Try Out Kindle Direct Publishing 

What about Kindle Direct Publishing? KDP is Amazon’s self-publishing platform for Kindle e-Books,  paperbacks, and hardcovers. Here’s how it differs from Amazon Advantage and Seller Central:

Print or Digital: KDP finds its strength in publishing e-Books and print-on-demand books. This is a little to no inventory option but does not have the convenience that pre-printed books may have.

Payment and Fees: KDP does not offer any subscription because it takes a percentage of the sales revenue. This percentage starts at 35% and tops off at 70% for e-Books and from 40% to 60% for print-on-demand books, depending on the options chosen.

Order Fulfillment: Under KDP, all of the printing and order fulfillment will be handled automatically by Amazon. 

What’s the Best Option?

For self-published authors, it’s important to know that currently, Amazon Advantage only has a pre-order option for print edition publications while self-published authors can only have Kindle pre-orders. 

The way we see it, as a self-published author, these options may not be the best avenues for you to look into. However, if you decide to get your book to a publisher, this option may be more applicable to them.

That said, let’s get into what they have to offer so that you can know, should you choose to continue on your journey of becoming a self-published author or not, for whom these programs might be ideal.

Amazon Advantage: This is perfect for publishers who want to offload inventory and let Amazon handle fulfillment and customer service, but don’t mind a lower royalty in return.

Amazon Seller Central: For the more meticulous type. This is best if you prefer more control over pricing and don’t mind handling fulfillment or paying for FBA. This option provides more flexibility but requires more involvement.

Kindle Direct Publishing: This option is suitable for those focusing on e-Books and print-on-demand books. It offers higher royalty rates and no upfront fees but lacks the immediacy of pre-printed books.

Must Have or Nice to Have?

Currently, direct sales are also a growing trend, with many authors selling and offering pre-orders on their own websites. By setting up direct sales, you can offer pre-orders and get 100% of the profits, unlike the 60% you get through Amazon or the 10% with a traditional publisher. At 3 ferns, we can help you set up direct sales, allowing you to maximize your profits.

Ultimately, whether Amazon Advantage or any of these options is a must-have or a nice-to-have depends on your specific needs and goals as a self-published author. By understanding the pros and cons of each, you can make an informed decision that best supports your publishing and distribution strategy. 

Learn More With Leesa

Whether you’re well into your self-publishing journey or just starting to explore the idea, schedule a complimentary call with Self-publishing Mentor Leesa Ellis today. She’ll help you navigate the path to successful self-publishing.