Self-Publishing Help – Should You Invest In A Print Run?


When you’ve completed your novel you’re going to be presented with the option to do a print run of your book.  Simply put, print runs are the set number of copies of the book printed at one time.

The number one mistake most novelists make when it comes to print runs is they make their order much too small.  Usually writers will decide to only print 100 or 500 copies of their book thinking they won’t need more.

However, when they inevitably run out of copies, they will just need to print more. The amount of time and effort that goes into making a book is the same no matter if your print run is 100 or 100,000, so it’s in your best interest to figure out what your ideal number is.  I generally suggest starting in the neighborhood of 2,000 to 3,000 copies. Sure, it sounds like a lot, but you will need the extras for reviewers, samples, giveaways, etc.

My rule of thumb is: it’s better to err on the side of giving a book to someone who could create a positive influence for it than to be forced into stinginess by a lack of copies. Generosity creates more of the same.

Three Key Factors

When deciding to do a print run, consider the following:

How and where you plan to sell the book. If you frequently speak and have opportunities to sell your books at events, then it makes sense to invest in a print run. Also consider if you’ll want significant quantities to distribute or sell to business partners or organizations, stock in local/regional retail outlets or businesses, give to clients, etc. I do not recommend investing in a print run because you think bookstores or retail outlets will stock your book. If such an opportunity should arise, then you can always invest in a print run after you have a sales order or firm commitment.

Where you’re driving sales. If you’re driving your customers/readers primarily to online retailers, you can fulfill print orders with less hassle and investment by using POD. Ultimately, you do have to use POD regardless if you want to be distributed by the largest U.S. wholesaler, Ingram. (More info below.)

What your budget is like. Not everyone is comfortable investing in a print run.

Final Thoughts…

Don’t forget to anticipate your appetite for handling the warehousing, fulfillment, and shipping of 1,000+ books, unless a third party is handling it for you, which will reduce your profit. When the truck pulls up to your house with several pallets piled high with 30-pound boxes, it will be a significant reality check if you haven’t thought through your decision.

If you have completed a print run of your novel, comment below and tell us how it went for you!

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