The Basics of Book Printing FAQ

What is Print on Demand (POD)?

Print on Demand (POD) is a term for digital print technology that allows for very small quantities of books to be printed at one time, even down to a single copy at a time. POD allows books to be printed as needed, per sale, rather than printed in a large quantity or “run” and stored in a warehouse to be sold from inventory.

What programs should I use to lay out my books?

Use Affinity Publisher or Adobe InDesign to create print-ready files, as other programs can cause issues with specs and layout. If you use other programs, we can only offer a limited amount of technical support if you experience printing errors with your proofs.

Many of our tutorials mention using Photoshop, Illustrator, or Affinity Photo for image editing, not for layout.

Who does your book printing?

Lightning Source is our printing partner and a premier print-on-demand company. When customers order print titles on site, we transmit the order electronically to Lightning Source’s print facility either in Tennessee, USA, or in the United Kingdom (depending on where the customer is located). Lightning Source then prints, packs, and ships the order.

How does the print program work?

The print program is optional. You can choose to participate on a title-by-title basis. Once you join the program, you decide which of your titles you would like to offer in print. You can activate or deactivate individual print options at any time.

How long does the print process take?
Files Sent to Printer 12 hours
Premedia Processing 3-5 business days
Printing 10 business days
Shipping 2-3 weeks
Approval (Unverified partners only) 2-3 business days

During very busy periods, such as winter holidays, premedia processing and shipping can take longer. Orders placed for both softcover and hardcover books may ship separately.

You should give yourself as much time as possible for the release of any new title, we suggest a minimum of six weeks time for print fulfillment. You may wish to allow for more, especially if this is your first time using our print programs.

Note as of January 31st, 2024: Due to delays with our print partner, the printing process is taking closer to 14 business days. If your files were acknowledged by the printer more than 14 business days ago and their status has not changed, please submit a request through our webform with a link to the title and the format(s) affected.

Getting Started with POD

1. Upload Your Files

From your Publisher Hub, you can search for a title and add other formats or use the Upload and manage printed book files tool (under Book Printing). There, you can set up and edit a print option for any of your titles or for multiple print formats, such as softcover and hardcover, for example. You must upload files prepared specifically for print use. You can also set the price customers will pay to purchase your title in print.

2. Premedia Processing

Once you upload your print files, we run a few processes on your files and transmit them to Lightning Source. Your files undergo premedia processing at Lightning Source to verify they can be printed. The status of your print files will appear under your title listing via your Publisher Hub and on the “Upload and manage printed book files” page.

If your files encounter errors in premedia, you will receive a notification via email. You must fix the errors and re-upload corrected files before your books can be processed for printing again.

When a file successfully passes premedia checks, you will receive a notification via email that the product is ready for proofing.

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3. Order a Proof

After you receive the notification that your title has passed premedia and is ready for proofing, you must order a proof copy.To do so, navigate to your Publisher Hub and find your product under "My Titles". By your book format, you'll see the following buttons: Order, Make Public, and Update Files. Hit "Order" to add your proof to your cart, then check out.

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Once you receive and inspect your proof copy, you can decide if the product is acceptable for customer purchase, or if you need to make further changes to your print files. 

4. Activate Your Title

Only once you have approved a physical proof should you finalize the customer price for the print option and activate the title for customer purchase in print. Unverified partners will need to submit their PoD title for approval.

Once the print version of your title is live for customer purchases, customers who visit your product page will see options to buy your PDF, any PoD formats you offer, or both:

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Customers can select the option they prefer before adding the item to their shopping cart. When a customer places an order for a print title, we have the copy printed, packaged, and shipped to the customer on your behalf.

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