Tag Archives: print on demand

Now for the test readers

Phil: Progress report. The book is ready for our carefully selected* group of test readers.

Over a long evening, I formatted the pages and uploaded them to Lulu.com. Then an order for a couple of copies was placed.

A few days later, the books arrived. Flicking through in the pub, I notced I could do to carry out a little more formatting in a couple of places, there is at least one chapter that starts half way down a page for a start, but it will be fine the task in hand. Having a paper-back looking thing is certainly easier for the our literary guinea pigs than endless A4 pages, and even at 9 quid a copy (including postage), quite a lot cheaper than Prontaprint.

We await results.

*selected because they understand that their job is to read and (hopefully) enjoy the story, not care about the grammar. I don’t care how good we are with prepositions and semi-colons, if the story is rubbish then our time has been wasted. Grammar will be fixed separately as we are also looking for a copy editor.

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Print On Demand. Not for losers.

Bello is a digital-only imprint of Pan Macmillan, established to breath new life into previously published, classic books.

We publish in ebook and print-on-demand formats to bring these wonderful books to new audiences.



Ann Cleeves is the author behind ITV’s Vera and BBC One’s SHETLAND. She has written over twenty-five novels, and is the creator of detectives Vera Stanhope and Jimmy Perez – characters loved both on scree and in print. Her books have now sold over one million copies worldwide.


anncelevesbookPhil: I acquired this book from my local railway station “library” – a bookcase in the waiting room on platform 3. With a journey ahead, I’d planned to drop a couple of books in and find something random and unexpected to read. I chose The Healers because it felt like the print copy of our book. Satin finish cover with no frills but otherwise just like any other paperback.

When I read the above, I understood why. It’s the offspring of the same printing machine, or at least a very close relative.

The idea that a major publisher maintains a digital and print-on-demand imprint is fascinating. We all know that putting books on the shelves of shops costs lots of money. This limits those books to those that the publisher and shop are certain will sell – mainly ones with someone off the telly named on the cover.

But what about the rest?

Print-on-demand offers the chance for publishers to leverage “the long tail” of the book world. The same business model that makes Amazon a success. The idea is that there is a large body of work that will sell in tiny numbers over a long period of time. For a shop this is bad news as they simply can’t keep all the slow movers on the shelf.

If your business is based on enormous warehouses or even POD then this isn’t a problem. If you have 2 copies of a thousand books that sell 1 copy a year, that’s still a thousand books sold. Best of all, they all sell at full price, unlike the best sellers which are heavily discounted so no-one makes any money.

Maybe POD is the future for lots of novelists. You’ll never be out of print for a start and there is always the dream of sudden interest in a title pushing sales.

For those lower down the author ladder like us, it’s comforting to know that our book is in the same market as people who have written for the telly. And that you can own a copy that will be just as good as theirs.


The Healers?

It’s a good fun whodunnit novel. I rattled through it very quickly – always the sign of an enjoyable read. It has the hallmarks of an early novel with a bit more set-up than you might like at the start, but if you can find a copy then grab it.

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Kate vs The Potter – a free short story

Kate vs The PotterPhil: In between cakes, Candice and I have been working on something special, a short story featuring the characters from our book.

Best of all, we are giving the electronic version of this away for free !

If you follow the link below, you can download the story from Lulu.com, then settle down with a nice cup of tea and a cake to enjoy.

Download Kate vs The Potter

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Test reading: Round 2

Kate vs The Dirtboffins and orange juicePhil: I’ve just taken delivery of the second batch of printed books courtesy of Lulu.com The new editions have freshly polished text and the tractor’n’cupcake cover which looks pretty.

Resisting the urge to sneak the copies on to the shelves of a nearby Waterstones to see what happened, I met up with Candice to hand some over whilst enjoying some healthy soft drinks and a huge portion of very nice, but red-hot, pub chips. A balanced meal I’m sure you’ll agree.

She will be passing these on to more readers, one of whom lives in Wolverhampton, so it will be one of the nicest things to happen to him. I’ve already sent copies on to a couple of people who can be trusted to read and then tell me the truth. One (Hello Sarah) managed to get to page 80 in 24 hours which shows either commitment or speed reading skills. Looking at the book, this is the point where the story hots up with some giant cabbage action.

As an added extra, Neil is relaxing in 40 degree heat and reading an electronic version because I’m too stingy to post a copy out to his exotic poolside venue. That’s what happens when you are a prolific commenter on this blog. You have been warned !


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The Book takes physical form !

Seeds of Change - the book !Phil: While my writing colleague is swanning around Florida in her Daisy Dukes (Strange, because her favourite character in the programme was Rosco), I’ve been left to do all the work. Pity about this, because things have just got exciting as I have The Book in book form !

Before anyone gets the wrong idea, while these are real books, we haven’t bagged a publishing deal. Yet. You can’t head out to Waterstones and pick up a copy.

These are test copies I had produced via Lulu.com so we could hand them to test-readers for some feedback. While we could just chuck them some printouts on A4 from a local printer, this doesn’t give the feel of a book and it’s a whole lot less easy to read. You don’t want to be taking a ring-binder to bed do you ?

Actually as a method of getting your words on the page, this is pretty cheap. Each book cots under a fiver and for that we have 225 A5 pages and a colour cover, all perfect bound. In fact the “product” is good enough to sell on its own. The same day I received these in the post, I had a couple of copies of the test printed up by a local company and they cost me £10 each. OK, so I had them within half an hour rather than waiting a few days, but it made me wonder.

Anyway, if anyone is thinking of having a crack at Print On Demand publishing via Lulu, here are some hints:

  • What you see isn’t entirely what you get. The preview seems to show that you control the inside front and back covers. You don’t, these are blank. Your document starts from the front of the first printed page, which logically should be the title page. Don’t leave a blank first page like I did thinking it was the cover or the result looks odd.
  • The words on your A4 page in the wordy processor are the ones that fit on the A5 page. Mine came out in a font too small. It’s perfectly readable but again, looks odd.
  • A5 is the same height as a conventional paperpack but very slightly wider. Sadly Lulu don’t offer a narrower version so we’ll have to live with it. I’m being picky here as paperbacks come in different sizes.
  • There is no border on the front or back covers if you select the all picture option. Make sure you put your own border on or the text (as in this one) goes right up to the edge. Oh, and you get the barcode on the back whether you like it or not so format your image around it.
  • Uploading files works better if you are on Chrome than Internet Explorer, at least it does on my PC.

Despite the caveates, at the end of the day I am massively pleased with the results. Seeing your words in a real book is fabulous. I re-read a few bits marvelling in simply holding something with a shiny cover and a flat spine. Then I scribbled stuff in the margins, made the tweaks mentioned above and ordered 4 more copies. The bigger font pushed the price up over the fiver but I think they will be worth it. If all else fails, and we are many months away from this, I’ll link in the on-line shop to the blog and sell the thing direct. With a turnaround of 3-5 days, it’s not much worse than ordering from Amazon.

In the meantime I’m thinking about future uses for POD technology. Well until madame gets back from holidays anyway.


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