Sarsen Press | Printers in Winchester, Hampshire | Printing services
Sarsen Press | Printers in Winchester, Hampshire | Printing services

Book Production and Printing

Sarsen Press produces more than 100 books a year, see a list of the works we have produced here. We are not publishers, but if you are looking for a company to produce a book for you then please have a look at the information below.

How to specify what you want

  • How you will supply the contents of the book.
  • How many pages you think it will be.
  • Whether it is colour or black and white.
  • What the finished size will be.
  • What sort of paper you want it printed on.
  • What sort of binding you require.
  • How many copies.
  • Timing.
  • How and where your book is printed depends on a number of factors. We have the equipment to print and bind paperback books in house, so most of the short-run titles we do are printed by us. For longer runs, books that require sewing in sections, and for casebound books we use our extensive connections in the book printing trade to get you the best deal we can. We would suggest that you get alternative prices, but you should bear in mind that if you use an on-line company you may not get the personal service and attention that you would get from us.

    So, a bit more detail on each of these.

    a. Supplying the contents.

    These days a book will normally have been written on a computer so most people supply us with a digital file, most commonly having used Microsoft Word.

    Assuming you have the manuscript in Word then you have two choices. The first is that you lay it out yourself so that it looks exactly as you want the final page to look. If the final size of the page is A5 then if you set your book up on an A4 sheet, if you use 16 point for the text we can reduce it to A5 and it will print as 11 point. We would need you to supply your Word file as a pdf because Word does not embed fonts and if we do not have exactly the same version of the font that you are using the text may reflow. You will receive proof copies of the book from us at every stage so that you can be sure that everything is as you want it to be.

    The other alternative is that you can pay us to design and layout the book from your Word files and jpg images (for photographs for example). We would give you our best estimate of the cost of this part of the job, but this aspect has to be an estimate rather than a quotation because of the possibility that unforeseen problems arise. You will need to allow plenty of time for this part of the job because you will need to see more than one proof before it is ready to print.

    b. Number of pages

    A ‘page’ is one side of a sheet of paper. If you are supplying a pdf then you will be able to tell us the number of pages. Depending on how the book is being bound it may be necessary to add blank pages at the end to make the book a multiple of 4, 8 or 16 pages. If we are designing and setting the book for you we won’t know exactly how many pages it will be until we have finished that process, though we should be able to make a reasonably accurate estimate.

    c. Colour or black and white

    We always allow for the cover being in colour, but the contents may be either black and white or colour, or a mixture of both. If we are printing the book then our software can distinguish between a page with colour and a page in black and white which reduces the printing cost (with digital printing the cost per colour page is several times the cost of a black and white page).

    d. Finished size

    A5 is the most economical trimmed size for a book because it means that four pages fit onto an SRA3 sheet. With digital print each sheet through the machine costs the same. Any final book size larger than A5 means that only two pages can be fitted onto a sheet.

    e. Paper

    We would normally print on 90gsm or 100gsm white bond. Other possibilities are thicker paper, slightly off white, and silk. All of these are more expensive than the standard. The paper we use is Carbon Neutral and FSC.

    f. Binding

    We produce perfect bound paperback books in house. Glue technology has greatly improved recently and our glue is suitable for most applications. However, if your book is going to be subject to a lot of wear and tear it may need to be PUR bound, which would allow it to be opened flat without the risk of pages becoming detached, or in some cases sewn in sections to give it even better strength and longevity. If you require those sorts of binding we would get prices from the trade specialists that we deal with. If you require case binding then again we would get prices from trade specialists, unless it was for a very few copies in which case we would ask one of the craft binders that we deal with for a price.

    g. Quantity

    Most of the books we print in-house are runs of 200 or less. For longer runs we can get you good prices from the trade specialists we deal with.

    h. Timing

    Although it is possible for us to turn a book around in a few days if we receive print ready pdf files it normally takes longer than that. As noted above, if we are doing the design and typesetting will probably take several weeks before the book can be finally signed off. If the book is not being printed by us in-house then it will take at least three weeks, and longer at busy times of the year. If you are having a book launch always build in extra time in case there is an unexpected hold-up.

    Marketing and Selling Your Book

    You can find companies on the internet who will both print and claim to market your book (for an additional fee). Be very wary of such claims. If you have an ISBN number then your book automatically goes into the database of books published and can be ordered from you by the major book distributors like Bertrams, Coutts and Amazon so that is a service you do not need to pay for anyway. If a company claims to do more than that ask yourself how, if it was a title you might be interested in, could its existence be brought to your attention by a marketing company with the few hundred pounds they will ask you for. If you still think that might be a good idea then Google the company and ‘Problems’ or ‘Complaints’ and see what the experience of other authors has been.

    We do not finance, market or sell books. Poetry and fiction are likely to be the hardest books to sell, while local history and areas of specialised non-fiction may have ready-made markets.The good news is that even in this digital era the sale of books is increasing-up 7% in 2016. Below are some suggestions based on the experience of people we have produced books for over the years.

    1. Family and friends

    A lot of the books we produce are family histories in small quantities, either the memoirs of a particular person or the result of family history research. There is not really a need to market these as there is a clearly defined group of people who will be interested, and who will hopefully pass your book down through the generations. It might be worth considering case binding if you want your research to be available to future generations because this is likely to survive better than a paperback, and who knows whether it will survive on-line for decades?

    2. Local author publicity

    Your local newspaper (if you still have one) probably doesn’t have many reporters any more so if you are able to write an interesting and relevant press release about your book, preferably with a photograph, it is likely to get printed. Don’t forget to include details of how to get hold of the book. If you have a local independent bookshop (even less likely than a local newspaper) they might be prepared to have a small window display for you as long as you supply the information. They will require a substantial proportion of the cover price though (how much will vary from shop to shop).

    3. Bookshops

    Apart from independent shops this basically means Waterstones these days. Any information here about Waterstones is probably going to be out of date because their policies may change, so you will need to check with your local branch manager who will probably have to check with their head office. However, in the past our local Waterstones has hosted launch parties in the evening for authors whose books we have printed - terms and conditions may vary, but they required the sale at the event of a minimum number of copies before they would agree to stock the book. The discount they expect is around 60%. They are most likely to accept local history, and least likely to take poetry, fiction and specialised books with a limited appeal.

    4. Local organisations

    Whether of not this is appropriate depends very much upon the sort of book you have written. If, for example, it is local history then there is likely to be a ready-made market and you may already be part of the local history group. But there are usually many other local organisations which have a guest speaker at their meeting, so if you can put together an interesting talk and feel confident that you can hold the attention of an audience then you may be able to get onto the list of speakers for, for example, the W.I.

    5. Website

    It is quite cheap and easy these days to create your own website to publicise your book. What is less easy is to stand a chance of a search on Google finding you. You are then getting into the area of Search Engine Optimisation.

    Hopefully this section has not actually put you off asking us to produce your book. There have been books that we have produced that have been massively successful: one on hypnobirthing has sold more than 10,000 copies. Conversely, a beautifully written novel that should have found a major publisher sold fewer than 100 despite the best efforts of the author. Good luck!

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    Book Printing Service - Sarsen Press, Hampshire, UK - Book Production
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