Before publishing, a self-published author will probably do a lot of research in finding not only the best distributor, but the best, cheapest, and the one with a customer service that actually cares.

Aside from Lulu, and others, most of my research brought top dogs, Createspace and IngramSpark to the forefront, especially when it comes to picture books.  There are plenty of blogs that showcase the differences of prices, perks, and fees comparing the bunch, so I don’t plan to dive into that.  Instead, I’d rather talk about the printing quality of books you’ll get from them and a traditionally printed book.


First, I always planned on traditionally printing, but since I had an ebook available on Kindle, I didn’t want to miss out on an audience that purchases through Amazon. Setting up the title was pretty easy.  I decided to go with a perfect bound 8.5 X 8.5 picture book. Createspace doesn’t offer saddle stitch at the moment. The issue with perfect bound POD (print on demand) books is they just stack a bunch of paper on top of each other, and glue the spine.20170517_164014-1-1

In time, with bending and creasing, those papers may fall out.  That being said, for this type of POD glued bind, it seems the glue is plentiful and the pages will probably stay put for a while. It seems each page is not only glued on the edge but glued about 1mm on the side, which could be overspill, though.

The cover is not as thick as your standard consumer perfect bound paperback books you find at the big stores.20170517_171206

Like the consumer books, it has scorched line on the spine where you are to bend and crease for long-lasting, but as I said, not being as thick as standard consumer perfect bound picture books, it’s hard to fold it perfectly on that line. In fact, you have to look pretty closely to even know it’s there.


The paper quality is nothing fancy.  I’ve seen better quality paper in our home printer! Also, I noticed that my 32-page book now has 2 blank white pages in the back. It’s normal because they want to stamp the last page.  Regardless, it’s pretty tacky.

The printing ink quality itself looks like something I could print off from our printer as well. It’s nothing to rave about. The ink itself gives a sheen in the light. However, everything with no ink is dull white. The machines probably map out the ink and spray a coat of something only on the images to conserve costs.  That or the ink itself has the gloss in it. Looking closely, you can see the spray dots.  Look at it below, then check out Ingram’s.


  • Outside binding quality- 2
  • Inside spine binding – 6
  • Ink – 3
  • Paper quality – 3

Score:  3.5


After setting up the paperback, and printing traditionally, I sought book clubs or those that offer monthly subscriber boxes to add my book.  What I found is most prefer award-winning books or books they can find right from Ingram’s website at the regular retail discount of 55%.  Why not, I thought! Let’s learn something new!

As of now, I had a traditionally printed hardback, and an 8.5 X 8.5 Createspace paperback.  After some thought, I decided to go with a hardback of the exact same size as the paperback. After all, it would be offered on Amazon as well. The two versions would be an easy comparison.  I uploaded the files but had to edit the cover with a larger spine, and it had to be able to wrap around the cover.  I’m not sure why, but at the time, you can not add any text to the spine! Lame! The upload process went smoothly but had a quick hiccup on the format of the pdf for the cover. With a little research, I found it was as easy as changing something from a drop down menu in Photoshop.

Upon receiving the book, my first thought was the hardback binding looked great. It’s thick, hard, and sturdy. The printing ink on the cover seems sharper than that of Creatspace.

The colors are different, too.  I wanted a special recognizable spine since I couldn’t add text to it (Did I say, “Lame”?), so I designed a candy cane looking spine to go along with the theme of the book. It was something easily noticed on a proper bookshelf.


It is also POD perfect bound in the same way as the Createspace version. They just lay a bunch of pages down and glue them on one edge. I will say that it doesn’t seem to have as much glue towards the spine as the Createspace paperback, or that overspill I mentioned.  Perhaps pages may fall out of this version quicker with some wear and tear of a child.20170517_164243-1

The paper quality seems slightly thicker.  I must not have selected gloss, as the images all came in matte, something I’ll have to change.  Because of that reason, I can’t quite compare the ink quality with that of Createspace. Again, there is a color difference.  It has sharper images, but also seems a bit creamier. Just look at the close-up of the eye compared to the Createspace version. Is it from the ink, paper or both? Not sure.


A quick note: A huge problem with IngramSpark is figuring your cost.  As I mentioned those buying at the Ingram website want that 55% discount!  Authors have to bump up the book price just to get a profit. I had to keep the price the same as my beautifully printed traditional version. I couldn’t offer that 55% and make a profit! So I had to change it to 40% and I am making a whopping 20 cents from each book! Isn’t that awesome!

As I mentioned, I wasn’t planning on getting the IngramSpark version, but I’m glad I got to learn something. Unfortunately, it’s not getting the traction and that could be possibly due to not meeting the 55% discount as retailers want.  Right now, I plan on doing a saddle-stitch paperback version of my newest book.  I am able to keep the retail price of the book low enough, offer that 55% discount and still making a whopping 30 cents! Fabulous!

  • Outside binding quality- 8
  • Inside spine binding – 4
  • Ink – 7
  • Paper quality – 6

Score: 6.25

The Traditionally Printed

With all these free to “nearly free” options, why print traditionally at all? Although I’m far from perfect, I do strive to get as close to it as I can. especially when it comes to my books!  It all came down to the fact that I didn’t want anything holding back a large bookstore chain from carrying my book, especially when it’s something that could be controlled like page quality, printing quality, or the ridiculous ISBN argument. I wanted a product that when a consumer held it in their hands, they’d feel as if it was published by a large publisher, not a tiny self-published author.


The binding is beautiful and has the title and author printed right on the spine. The company offers a laminate on things like the title, etc.  So, I opted for that.  A few things on the back also have the glossy laminate.20170517_164623

It also is perfect bound but, this time, properly. Instead of stacking papers, they fold 2 sets of 4 pages and staple or stitch each set. Both sets get glued together and to another paper (colored as opposed to Ingram’s white) which gets glued to the inside of the hardback.


The book is larger than the others, as intended. The font of the words is a tad smaller than the other two versions, but the pictures are larger.

The paper is thick and has a great feel between the fingertips.  Because of the meaty pages, when folded, some of the pages weren’t folded directly in the center, causing a sliver of an image or two to flow onto another page elsewhere. I’ve seen it in even big publisher’s books.

The glossy finish is not just on the image itself, but on the entire page, unlike the Createspace version. The sheen is not too glossy, but a kind of in-between, like a glossy matte. It’s beautiful.



  • Outside binding quality- 9
  • Inside spine binding – 10
  • Ink – 10
  • Paper quality – 10

Score: 9.75


So, of course, it’s a no-brainer.  The best version, hands-down, is the traditionally printed version. For a self-publisher, it’s tough to just toss out that much money, hoping you’ll recoup your costs.  20170517_164535

Think about how many friends and family members you have, not on your facebook, but in your intimate bubble. How many of those in that bubble would spread the word as well? Could you sell at least 200-400 books? If the answer is no, then you’d probably be better off going with POD versions, and in that case,  go with a saddle stitch or hardback on IngramSpark. They’ll distribute to Amazon, and you’ll make a penny.  However, if you could sell that many, you’d probably recover your printing cost. Anything after that is per profit. If I sold 200 books on Ingram, I’d make 40 bucks. If I sold 200 of my traditionally printed books, I’d profit an estimated 1,000-1,400 dollars. With that in mind, it may take a few hundred book sales to recoup your printing costs and illustrator fees. You have to be willing to do some legwork for sure.  For those interested in traditionally printing, let me know if you have any questions or need any help.  I may be able to help you out with my printer.

Check out the video below to see more!

It’s every author’s dream. Their grand idea of a story, the one they nurture as if it were an only child, is going to make them millions. It’s going to be beloved by all critics and reviewers alike because hey, it’s yours.  The author will be rolling in the dough and wiping their toosh with 20 dollar bills. Well, let’s get our heads out of the La La Land,  and get back to the land of the real, Neo.

I recently just published my first picture book, Priscilla and the Sandman.  After months of research and emailing publishers and agents, I decided to self-publish.  I am by no means an expert on this subject but I will explain and share with you what I learned to you in this short article of why I decided to do self-publish.

Like many authors out there, I thought my book was the most awesome, most unique, most different and beautiful. I thought that everybody will love it once they pick it up. Heck, I still do!  I thought there would be no way agents and publishers would pass it up because it is just too good. So to start, I started looking for agents and publishers.  I researched the agents and publishers that liked similar books and found publishers that had similar books geared towards similar ages. Well, after sending out 50-100 emails to these researched agents and publishers,  I got very few responses. In a nutshell, “No”.

What I’ve learned from this experience is, unless you are a somebody already, it’s very unlikely to even get your foot in the door.  I’m a new author under a pen name, and I have yet to build up any kind of following or audience.  I was, or am still,  a nobody. Had I had a few thousand likes on a fan page or a blog with thousands of followers, it may have turned some heads or at the very least, gotten more responses.  However, the truth of this can’t be confirmed at this point.  When I get a few thousand followers and a new book, I’ll write an update.

At the same time of me wasting my time emailing uninterested parties, I kept doing research on why I should publish vs. self-publish.  I stumbled upon a video on YouTube that really struck some chords with me. The video had a panel of a few authors of different genres. Some were published and some were self-published. In the video, a self-published author mentioned stats which I can’t necessarily confirm or verify validity.

The first chord struck when the woman in the video mentioned that only 10 percent of authors at a publishing house make a whopping 90 percent of the publisher’s profit.  On the flipside, the other 90 percent of authors make only a tiny 10 percent of the house’s profit. So let’s make it more simple. A publishing house has 10 authors. One of those authors is going to make 90 percent of the house’s profit. This same author is going to be the one that you see very visibly on the shelves at bookstores.  They’re going to have their posters on the walls, and book signings lined up.  They are the ones that a publishing house will be pushing out in the consumers’ faces.  Now, those other nine authors making around only 1.2 percent of the profits each are merely a waste of time, a what if, so to speak. A publisher won’t spend money on marketing an author that is going to make such a low percentage of the profits. What does that mean? That means that even a published author will have to market their own book and do a lot of the leg work.  They need to do it if they want any sells at all. Wait a minute, isn’t that what a self-published author has to do anyway?

Back to the YouTube video.  The same author in the video then mentions that the average published author (yes, published) will sell an average of 200 books a year.  I thought to myself, “Seriously, a measly 200 books?”  So not only are you self-promoting your very own book on behalf of the publisher, trying to set up your own book signings (with the permission of the publisher), you also aren’t making any money. Well,  most likely for that first year or two, maybe three. Let me explain. When the author got signed, they got some money up front after signing a contract which is called an “advance”. That advance could probably be anywhere from 2,500 to 7,000 dollars.  There are a few different contracts that publishers use, but the more common one is an “advance” that goes against the publisher’s profits until that advance is paid back.  So, the author isn’t going to make any money until their advance is paid in full. The publisher needs to get back the money on their investment.  So, me being a nobody gets a publisher’s contract deal at, let’s say, 3,000 buckaroos (shooting low).  Let’s make an assumption that I could make 3 bucks off each book (shooting high) after paying off the printing fees,  and the illustrator and house fees. The house would need to move 1,000 books to pay off my advance and after that, I could start making some money again. Now, if you recall, according to the unverified stat from the YouTube vid,  the average author sells the average of 200 books a year. If I could just humble myself enough to call me an average author, we’d be talking about roughly  5 years before I’d see another payment from the house. “Well, at least I got 3,000 bucks and didn’t need to fork out the cash for printing.”  It’s a fair point.  Touche.

I asked myself, one, could I wait for months to years hoping for a yes. What would be the benefit of waiting if, in the end, the responses were all negative?  Would I want to wait that long? Two, I asked myself if I could I sell more than 200 books a year on my own?  If you broke it down into profits per sale, I actually could sell less books to make the exact amount of money that I would be making with a publisher because I wouldn’t have that publisher’s fee.  If I could double my profit being self-published, then I would only need to sell 100 books to be that “average published author”.  If I could triple my profits, even better!

For me, my logical reasoning, the fact that I had some saved up cash, I couldn’t or wouldn’t wait for an agent or publisher to respond, and I was confident enough in my project that I could sell more than 100 books a year, was my reasoning to self-publish. There wasn’t a logical reason for me to be sitting around waiting for a publisher, or biding my time until an agent would give me a chance.  In fact, my first month, with the help of friends and family,  we’ve already moved around 200 books. The downside? Well, a self-published author needs to fork out the cash for printing up front. This can be fairly costly, especially printing in the US. I felt fairly confident that I could break even at the least.  I figured it would take around 300 book sells to make back the money I put into printing.

Another valuable lesson I learned was that no matter how good your book is, or how good you think it is, there are millions of people that feel exactly the same way about their book.  Instead of seeing the future you getting rich quickly, give yourself some smaller goals. My first goal was to sell 200 books. My second goal is to pay off the printing fees. I’m almost there.  Your idea is your baby, no doubt.  Cherish it and love it.  Just remember that babies are undoubtedly the most beautiful to the parents of that baby, and there are millions, if not billions, of babies in the world.

So what are the downsides? Well, a self-published author needs to fork out the cash for printing up front. This can be fairly costly, especially printing in the US. I also felt fairly confident that I could break even (money wise) at the least.  I figured it would take around 300 book sells to make back the money I put into printing.  The other downside is the extent of my reach.  I’m a recluse.  I’ve had to depend on the quality of my product, and the hope that friends and family would be willing to share the book with their friends, word of mouth.  So far, I can’t complain. The question is, when will that reach end?  Or will it?  There is also a lot of work that goes into marketing your own book. I’ve emailed lots of bloggers and bookstores. I’ve put in countless hours of making my publishing dreams come true. I spent lots of dollars and time on the design and artwork.   Lastly, it will take time away from friends and family. So, if you are a social person and need constant company all the time, I’d keep waiting for that contract deal.

So, have I  convinced you that self-publishing is the route you’d like to take? Consider these options. If you don’t have the cash to dump into printing or the storage space to store 32 boxes of books (in my case), you really only have 2 options – one, keep emailing the agents, publishers, and wait for that golden moment in which an agent or publisher sends you a contract, or two,  you can self-publish with online services and stick to POD (Print on Demand) and Ebooks. I plan to do another blog about my experience with POD and Ebooks. POD and Ebooks will limit your upfront cost and still allow you to publish. Fantastic, right?  The thing is if you are self-publishing, and you use these services, it’s as if you had signed a contract with a publisher anyway.  The reason being is you will have to pay these retailers their house fee, and their printing fees.  So, you’ll still be making a buck or so per book.  In fact, you can print off a bunch to take to an event at an authors discounted price which in turn, increases your profit. That’s good. The bad? The quality of your book will suffer with these POD services for the most part. Believe me.

I know, it’s a lot to take in and digest.  I hope that this article has given somebody some insight on publishing.  Even with all this being said, I would love to be published by a traditional publisher. That is, if the numbers worked out right.  I won’t approach another agent again, nor will I waste my time seeking out publishers. Instead, I hope to build my reader audience alone and see where I am in a few years. Publishers or agents may start emailing me as time progresses.  I warmly welcome that.

Please check out my first picture book, Priscilla and the Sandman. It has great reviews on Amazon and from bloggers.

Anders Roseberg