1 What is self-publishing?

Self-publishing most generally refers to publishing that is paid for by the author rather than by a publishing company. A publisher tends to be defined as the person responsible for a publication (producing it and paying for it).

Self-publishing is further broken down into:

  1. on-demand (or print-on-demand) publishing, where a book is printed ‘on-demand’, ie: as it is sold;
  2. what we call ‘pure’ self-publishing, where the author takes on all the risk and work of the project with the goal of receiving all of the profit (for example, Chicken Soup for the Soul was self-published); and
  3. vanity press, where an author pays a package company to publish their book with the intent to appear that it has been picked up by a traditional publisher.

2 How much will it cost?

There are several elements involved in publishing your manuscript: editing, book and cover design, printing & binding, and distributing & marketing your book. Webb Publishing charges an hourly rate for editing and design work, and can also provide a separate quote for printing based on number of pages, quality of paper and quantity of books.

3 How long will it take?

Please check with us about our wait times. We will do our best to provide you an estimated completion date for your project. Here are some general ideas of timing:

Without seeing your manuscript, it is virtually impossible to estimate the amount of time required for editing. However, a very vague rule of thumb may be to budget for about 8-12 pages per hour of editing time, based on approx 250 words per page (typically one double spaced page).

Laying out a book into a desired format can take anywhere from 4 hours to 20 hours, depending on the complexity. For example, if you have many footnotes or different headers and footers for each chapter, it will take more time.

Cover design tends to take 2-3 hours.

Printing. Once you have approved the project, it is sent to the printer of your choice, who  will typically provide a proof for you within 1 or 2 days (some companies take up to 3 weeks to produce proofs). Printing is usually completed in less than two weeks. Print time varies depending on the season (summer is peak).

4 How successful can my book be?

What a good question! Our response to this question is usually a question back to the author: what is your goal in publishing your book? We believe that the best goal for a self-publishing author is the satisfaction of seeing your work in print, and the recovery of your publishing expenses. It is incredibly satisfying to distribute (or sell) your book to family, friends and associates, and to see your book in a local bookstore. It is important to be realistic about the process; there are literally thousands of new titles in Canada each year. If your goal is to make it big, you are more likely to get there by working with a book agent and finding a deal with a major national publisher; but even then, you will be required to do the majority of the marketing work yourself.

5 Does Webb Publishing offer editing and design services?

Yes, we are a full-service, one-stop shop, interested in facilitating authors through the process of self-publishing. We will also handle individual pieces of your project if that is what you want.

6 How will Webb Publishing communicate with me re: design and editing work?

Depending on your comfort with technology, Webb Publishing will email digital files for your review, or print out a hard copy and give it to you in person. There is always a hard copy proof prior to printing, but we find it simplest and most cost effective to exchange revisions via computer, if possible.

7 How should I prepare my manuscript to send to Webb Publishing?

The easiest format for us to accept is an MS Word document. If you can, please take out all extra spaces, indents and any formatting commands. We have to strip all of your formatting and rebuild the file during the design process anyway, so a completely plain file is best. We have seen it all, and will work with whatever you are able to send to us – it’s nice, however, if the manuscript is in order and in one piece!

8 What kind of marketing does Webb Publishing do?

We are happy to provide estimates for the following marketing services: press releases, sell sheets, posters, business cards, personal web site development, and more.

9 What is on-demand printing? How is it different than traditional printing?

On-demand printing is a commonly used term referring to using laser printers to print books. Commercial-grade laser printers (also called digital printers) work just like a home printer. A computer file is saved to the memory of the printer, and the file is printed in one step, “on-demand”, “as needed”.

Traditional presses require a multitude of expensive steps prior to applying layers of ink to paper using a printing press. The quality of a traditional press is hard to beat, but the price is usually prohibitive. Traditional press becomes more economical than digital printing when the volume of books ordered is high (ie: in the thousands).

Another difference between traditional (off-set) presses and on-demand (laser, or digital printing) is the way the paper ‘takes’ the ink. In the traditional printing process, ink is absorbed into the paper, whereas in the digital laser world, ink adheres to the top of the paper. You may notice some cracking on a digitally-printed full-colour book cover. The ink in the fold of the book near the spine will frequently split. This is one of the factors to consider when designing a book cover. Laminating the cover can help, but laminating technology, until now, has caused more problems than fixes.

10 What is the minimum number of books I can print?

Zero. You are not required to print your book with us. We are happy to work with you through the editing and/or design process only. If you decide to print with us, we will access an ISBN number for you, and therefore a minimum of 1 or 2 books (based on the volume of printing) must be sent to the National Archives. A typical order of books is 50, 100 or 200. This is a good trial run of books for most authors.

11 How do I get an ISBN number for my book (and what is an ISBN number?)?

An International Standard Book Number is a commercial book barcode identifying a specific title, author and publisher. The ISBN system has been used internationally since 1970, and is now a 13-digit number (as of Jan/07). With the odd exception, book stores will not accept a book for sale without an ISBN number.

Publishers are able to access an ISBN on their own, though as part of our service, Webb Publishing provides ISBN numbers to those who choose not to access the ISBN system themselves. Copies of all ISBN publications are stored in the National Archives. One or two copies of your book (depending on the quantity printed) must be sent to the National Archives. Please note that these 1 or 2 books must be factored in to the quantity of books ordered, at your cost.

12 How much does printing and binding cost?

As you may expect, printing costs vary according to volume. 99% of our printing is done via commercial-quality laser printers. The unit cost for this type of printing is typically higher than by traditional off-set press, but a traditional press is not cost effective until an author is purchasing a large quantity of books (ie: thousand(s)). To give you an extremely generic idea of cost, an order of 50 books, made up of 200 black and white internal pages with a colour cover should not cost more than about $15 per book to print, and more likely in the $6-$12 range. There are many factors contributing to the cost of printing, including quality of paper, size, and use of colour.

13 How much do colour pages cost?

A very general estimate is that colour costs approximately $1 per page. Again, prices depend on the quantity of books ordered and the number of colour pages printed.

14 How can I get my book into a local bookstore?

If you are a local author, most local bookstores will be interested in consigning your book. The process is to deliver a copy to the bookstore for their review. If it is accepted, they will contact you to come in and sign a consignment contract. The consignment fees are usually 40-45%. For example, if your book sells for $20, the store will take $8-9 from each sale. The author is responsible for loss or damage to their books while on consignment. Frequently, a bookstore will require you to host an in-store signing event to promote your book. This is an excellent way to receive feedback, and get your feet wet in the world of book marketing. We caution authors to set reasonable sales expectations at these events; an average 4-hour event may net less than a handful of book sales, but will fill your head with thoughts and instincts about book marketing.

Please contact us if you have further questions. There is always something to learn about the changing world of publishing.