self-publishing : print-on-demand

What is Print-on-Demand?

Print-on-demand is a printing technology that has made it economical to print just one copy of a book at a time. This is because it uses digital printing rather than the traditional methods of letterpress and offset printing, which was too complex to print a one-off book.


How much does print-on-demand printing cost?

When print-on-demand was first introduced, the the unit cost (the cost per book) of printing just one book at a time was far higher with print-on-demand than it was for a print run of thousands. Thankfully, print-on-demand has come on leaps and bounds since then and a single copy of a book can cost as little as £1.25/$2 to print now, with no set-up costs.

You can find out what your book costs to print with CompletelyNovel using this print cost calculator.


Who uses print-on-demand?

  • Authors
    For self-publishing authors, print-on-demand is a very attractive option as it enables them to sell books without having to pay large, up-front costs for a large number of books, when they’re not sure how many they’re going to sell. Most services charge authors a commission on every book that they sell, but on CompletelyNovel the author gets to keep all their royalties (more about this here.)
  • Publishers
    Mainstream publishers use print-on-demand for backlist titles to maintain availability without paying high storage costs. It’s also useful for niche publications that have a smaller audience.
  • Businesses
    Businesses are increasingly using print-on-demand services to produce customised books for their clients, for marketing, brand-building and information. (More about business books, here.)

See for yourself how print-on-demand works

Print-on-demand involves a number of modern machines that make it possible to print just one book at a time.

This video shows you what happens when you buy a book on CompletelyNovel. From the file being sent to the printer right through to the book’s arrival at your door, here’s what happens behind the scenes and how all the separate parts of the book are created and put together.

The printer featured in this video is Antony Rowe Ltd, part of the CPI Group who are based in Eastbourne, UK. They are one of the print-on-demand print companies that CompletelyNovel users can connect to. You can choose which printer you would like to print your book with when you start creating a book.

CompletelyNovel Print-on-demand (POD)

CompletelyNovel offers a unique print-on-demand self-publishing service that enables you to create, print and sell copies of your book, whilst keeping 100% of the book royalties.


Easy to upload your manuscript

You can upload a Word or PDF document direct to CompletelyNovel and we will turn it into a print-ready PDF for you. We have free advice on formatting and typesetting to help you ensure your book looks professional, or we offer an expert typesetting service for just £30/$45.


Cover design made simple

Our specialised online cover creator makes it really straightforward to design your front cover, spine and back cover. You can upload your own images and text, and our creator will automatically size it for you, ready for printing. Take a look at our cover design advice from experts for more information on cover design.


Full control over your book sales

Our handy price calculator will help you price your book by calculating the expected royalties from a number of retail prices (or RRPs) once your print price and the 30% retailer discount has been deducted.


Choose your printer

CompletelyNovel links to a number of different print-on-demand printers, who operate in different countries. You can select the one that suits you for printing copies of your own book, and once your book is sent to the distributors for publication, your book will be printed with high-quality printers, Lightning Source.

Advantages of POD

Print-on-demand has lots of advantages. Here are a few of them…

  1. Rapid technical set-up for books
  2. Far less financial risk for the publisher
  3. No need for storage as the books are only printed when needed
  4. Little or no waste from unsold books
  5. Books can be updated regularly to stay current where necessary
  6. Easy to offer lots of different formats of a book (e.g. large print, different font)
  7. Enables a wider variety of books to be available
  8. Makes printing accessible to everyone, not just publishers



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