Services for self-publishers
Due to the rise in popularity of self-publishing, a number of traditional publishers are offering their services to would-be authors for a fee. At first sight some of these services seem attractive not least because they seem to offer a "helping hand" to the publishing novice. I researched several of these options, cherry-picking the services I thought I would need and at the heart of which lay the actual printing of the book. The additional services included book design, ISBN registration, printing, distribution, marketing, ebook conversion and so on.
For me it was crucial that the print quality was excellent, so in addition to gathering costs and ideas for the various services I was also researching print quality by looking in bookshops for large photographic books and making notes on the print-houses for those I liked. The print-house is usually listed on the Half-Title Verso (ie on the back of the inside Title page) where the copyright, publisher, ISBN etc information is listed. You can also research this on Amazon by "Looking Inside" similar books where the copyright page is often shown. Of course you can't tell the print quality on Amazon!
In the end I obtained quotes from a number of publishers and printers and was astonished at some of the results! In one case where printing was included in a list of basic services the costs added up to more than the potential income - even at the full cover price of £30! Authors beware! By this stage I had decided to design the book myself as I perceived the book to be an "artwork" in its own right with the photographs as elements making up the whole. But I would need help with PR and distribution as these two areas were so industry-specific, and, of course, I still needed to find a printer that could produce a high-quality product at a realistic cost.
In the end it turned out that my preferred printer for quality was also the cheapest! I had decided on the quality issue by looking at books such as "British Wildlife Photography Awards" - various Landscape photography books, and that well-known tree lovers book "Meetings with Remarkable Trees" by Thomas Pakenham. The printer was Printer Trento - but in Italy! Initially I thought this might be a problem but luckily they have an agent in the UK who helped me obtain the initial quotation. Dealing with the staff in Italy has been a pleasure with proofs posted in the evening in Italy arriving mid-morning the next day in the Black Mountains in Wales! Just for comparison the cheapest quote from a reputable UK printer was 40% more! But I must stress that my research was not exhaustive.