There are more steps than you might realize to get your print-on-demand (POD) books, and some stages require processing time at your POD supplier.

Plan on several rounds of revisions (let’s be realistic), and allow at least two weeks for each round:

  1. You (or your book designer) make the last round of changes and upload the final file to your POD publisher (such as Ingram Spark or CreateSpace).
  2. After a few days for processing, you’ll be able to review your book online. If you see typos or your book suddenly needs revisions, go back to step 1. If it looks good, proceed to step 3.
  3. You order a proof copy for review. This is a printed and bound copy of your book, essentially the same as your final book.
  4. The POD company produces the proof copy of your book (allow whatever period of time the company specifies, usually 3 to 5 days) and ships it to you (shipping time varies depending on how much you’re willing to pay for expedited service — allow at least a week).
  5. You receive and review the proof copy. If you see anything you want to change (believe me, you will), go back to step 1.
  6. When you have a printed copy in your hands and like the way it looks, you can order your main supply of books.
  7. Because this is print-on-demand, you can order more books whenever you like, in whatever quantity you need.

While you are reviewing the first proof book, you will see something you want to change. Everyone does. Most people see things they want to change on the second and third rounds of review, too. At some point, you will need to stop making changes and move ahead. Be aware that your book designer will need to charge you to make revisions, and that the POD supplier may charge you each time you upload a new file. (As of this writing, Ingram Spark charges for each upload; CreateSpace does not. That’s why I recommend uploading first to CreateSpace, making all your changes, and then uploading to Ingam Spark.)

Also, be aware that POD is still a developing process, and suppliers are imperfect. They sometimes ship books with weird streaks through some of the pages, oddly-colored covers that don’t match the files you provided, or pages from someone else’s book randomly inserted into your book. (Yes, I saw all these in 2015 from the big 2 POD suppliers.) It’s hard to get ahold of a real human being at the POD suppliers, and it can take time to resolve these problems.

Allow enough time to make changes, receive another proof, review it, order books, and have them delivered (preferably without RUSH shipping) well before your event.

Back to Advance review copies. Back to Be sure you have enough copies of your book on hand.