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Now that you’ve settled on a printer, it’s time to apply your print selections to your manuscript so you can upload your manuscript and order your proof copy. Remember, quality is everything and there’s no feeling like seeing your book in print for the first time, even if it has errors.

Proofing and Formatting
Speaking of errors, this is the point in the process where you want all of your i’s dotted and all of your t’s crossed. Whatever POD you choose PLEASE make sure you follow their formatting instructions to the letter. Formatting can be frustrating and confusing. If there is any part of the instructions you do not understand call the helpline (if one is offered) to be sure you have no formatting errors. If you are not the most tech-savvy writer, it’s okay to pay a little extra for the formatting service offered by the printer. In my case, I had someone handle this for me. Yes, I paid to have this done. But most PODs offer formatting for an extra fee.

The good news is if there is an error that falls on the POD service, then more than likely, the printer will correct it and reprint your proof at no charge. However, if the error is yours, prepare to pay for another proof. I’ve done this!

So what type of errors might you make on your own proof? Text alignment, font inconsistencies, font effects such as bold facing, italics, etc. These are the types of tiny errors that make you scream and if they repeatedly slip through can end up being costly in the long run.

Now, you’re almost ready. But there is one more very important step that needs to be done. Surely, the more you publish, the sooner this would be done in the process. But just in case you’re still like me and certain details were just confusing and blurred in the research process, I’m going to make this piece clear right now:

ISBN numbers and Barcodes

YOU NEED YOUR ISBN and BARCODES! Was I clear enough? If you have not completed this portion of the process, you can not afford to put this off any longer. This is the point where your ISBN number gets assigned (by you) to your book and the barcode must be on the back cover in order for it to appear on the printed book.

First, notice I mention them separately – the ISBN numbers AND barcodes. This is because they are separate purchases. I’m sure you’ve heard or read that it’s best to purchase the ISBNs in bulk. I couldn’t agree more and this is why. You don’t purchase a batch of ISBNs because of the price break per ISBN. You purchase the batch because you need a separate ISBN number for each format you will be printing the book. So, hardcover, softcover, and in some cases digital, though your POD may provide ISBNs for your digital uploads. NOTE: Research this thoroughly to decide what option is best for you.

Second, they can be purchased at any point in your process prior to printing. Therefore, if you plan to publish multiple works as most writers do, then it is beneficial to have your ISBNs on standby and ready to move your printing process forward.

The barcodes are priced and purchased separately but are inexpensive. You need to have a barcode for each hardcopy version of the book. You can purchase the barcodes in bulk or a la carte, but either way, you need them for your upload process. Again, be sure to follow your printers formatting guidelines. To learn more about ISBN numbers and barcodes or to make a purchase visit http://www.bowker.com.

So, in sum, check and recheck, get the formatting right, purchase your ISBNs and barcodes, and now you’re ready to upload.

It’s Upload Time!

You’ve dotted all your i’s and crossed all your t’s. Now it’s time to upload and wait…and wait…and wait. Your POD will scrutinize and analyze your upload and contact you with any corrections or formatting irregularities. My experience has been that this can occur over one week and may entail some back and forth between you and the POD. Be patient. This was a nit-picking part of the process, but you do want your book to be perfect.

The Proof Copy

After verifying that everything is properly formatted and ready to go, your POD service will notify you that your upload is ready for printing. This is the point where you need to actually purchase your proof copy from you POD service. Decide on your delivery method and wait for it to arrive. When it arrives cry, scream, shout, party. You’ve received the first ever copy of your book in print. Celebrate! Have a drink! Then, settle down and go over the proof with a fine tooth comb. Be sure to scrutinize every letter, word, image and page because once you approve this copy, it’s the copy the world will read.

Hopefully, there will be no corrections and you can begin setting up the book for distribution through your POD. Otherwise, resubmit any error corrections and the process will repeat from the upload step.

Preparing for Distribution

Everything you need to know for distribution will be provided by your POD. Be sure to read through the distribution information carefully when first deciding on your POD service. This will be one of the determining factors in making your initial decision on a POD.

Also, be sure to check with your POD service to make sure you understand if there are any extra steps involved in making your book available to other distributors such as libraries and bookstores. Unfortunately, I erred in this department and it may have cost me significantly as far as marketing the book to other distributors. As frustrated and disappointed as I was upon learning this, there is nothing I can do about it now so I just have to carry this lesson with me for future publications. Learn from my mistakes. Make sure you thoroughly understand your PODs distribution setup process.

Next, decide how many books you want to have in your personal inventory and order your books. This is truly a matter of budget and preference. Some authors order as many as 2,500 and some order less. I thought it best to be conservative for a few reasons. 1) I wasn’t confident that I did a good job marketing my book prior to this point, so I didn’t want to overdo it; 2) I wanted to have enough copies for the book launch; 3) Enough copies for complimentary thank you distribution; and 4) Copies for any additional appearances before or immediately following the book launch. Additionally, I figured if I started with a modest amount, I wouldn’t overwhelm myself with having to figure out how to move so many books. To date, I don’t regret my decision. Do what makes you comfortable. There’s nowhere to go but up at this point.

As tedious as the upload process can be, it is not impossible to get through it and trust me, you will get through it.

Questions? Anything to add? Leave a comment below and write on!

Next in this series: Part 3: Planning the Launch