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How to print your own book cover image

How to Print Your Own Book

How to print your own book cover image

There’s nothing quite like holding a great book in your hands. That feeling is even better when the book has your name on the cover.

Self-published authors interested in printing their own work have a number of options. The toughest part is narrowing down the choices, so what’s what we’ve done for you. Here’s everything you need to know about printing your own book.

What to consider when printing your own book


There is a range of book printing services available, and prices can vary widely. Cost per book depends on the service you use, the number of pages, hardback vs. paperback, paper quality, and images, for example.

Some printing services will let you order one or two books at a time, and others will require a minimum purchase of, say, 50 books, for example.

Your cut of the profits

Every service sets their own royalty structure. Some will give you 10% of every sale, others as much as 50%. Some, like Amazon’s Kindle Direct Publishing, give you more control over your royalty rate.


Profit from your book sales is taxable, usually considered self-employment income. To make sure you’re doing your due diligence, consult this basic guide to taxes for self-published authors.


Consider how many books you think you can reasonably sell. Are you marketing your book via email, social media, display ads, your own website, etc.? A strong marketing plan increases the likelihood that you will move your inventory.

If you’re a brand new author with a small following, 1,000 books is probably too many. Starting in the tens or low hundreds is a safer choice. And if the book is a hit, you can simply order another print run. If you’re unsure of how many you might sell, a print-on-demand service is best for you.

Paperback or hardback

Printing hardback books typically costs more money. Plus, paperback vs. hardback will affect the weight of your book. If you plan to ship your books to readers, weight can affect the cost of shipping.

Trim size, paper, color, and images

Trim size (the length, width, and height of your book), paper quality, and whether your book includes colored text or images will affect the cost of printing.


How will you process payment and take orders? How will you get your book to readers? Some book-printing services will do these things for you, others will ship you the finished product and it’s on you to take orders, collect payment, then pack and ship books to your readers. Some services, like Lulu, will even let you sell directly through your author website while they handle the distribution part.

Many writers will find it more convenient to have their printer handle distribution. Others prefer to do it themselves so they can personalize their orders with a note or an autograph.

4 steps to printing your own book

1. Determine your budget

Choosing a budget will make it easier to choose a printer. Consider that the retail price of your book should be higher than the printing cost. You want to make a profit, after all.

2. Vet book-printing services

Review the list of considerations above and choose your must-haves, then consult our handy guide to book printers below.

3. Make a marketing plan

To sell books, you have to have a promotion plan. This might include email marketing, social media, display ads, or readings / book signings. The more you market, the more you sell.

4. Proofread, proofread, proofread

Ask a friend to proofread it for you or, if you can, hire a professional proofreader (some services, like BookBaby, can help you find editors and proofreaders). There’s nothing quite as frustrating as enjoying your hard work in physical form only to spot the dreaded “form” instead of “from” on page 50.

How much does it cost to print your own book?

The cost to print a book depends on a number of factors, like trim size, paper quality, cover type, number of pages, and quantity of books.

In general, expect to pay about $5–$25 per book, or more if your book is image- or color-heavy.

For example, a 300-page, 6×9” paperback with 60# paper will cost $7.95/book to print through Lulu. The same book in hardcover will cost $15.20/book.

Book printing services

What to know about book-printing services

  • Rights: Read the T&C before you print! Make sure you retain the rights to your work.
  • Print-on demand services: Know the kind of printing arrangement you’re getting into. Some require you to order a specific number of copies, others (more commonly) provide print-on-demand ordering, which means books are printed only when they are purchased, so you don’t have to worry about what to do with unsold inventory.
  • ISBN numbers: An ISBN is a unique, 13-digit identifier for your book—and you need one! Some book printers will help you register yours, others will not. To learn more, check out our guide to ISBNs.
  • Proofs: Some printing services will give you the option to order proofs of your book. A proof is a copy of your book—sometimes print and sometimes digital—usually provided before you order more. This gives you the chance to see and review your book before you let readers start buying.


Lulu is a very popular, easy-to-use service for printing your own books.

  • Paperback and hardback options, comic book formats too.
  • Ebook options available.
  • Lots of design templates and help making your book look exactly like you envisioned.
  • Lulu has a cost calculator so you can get quick price estimates.
  • You can sell your book through the Lulu online bookstore, your own website, or through distributors like Amazon and Barnes & Noble.

Kindle Direct Publishing

KDP is Amazon’s self-publishing and distribution service. Authors can create ebooks and paperbacks.

  • Create and sell physical books and ebooks in one place.
  • KDP doesn’t provide the range of design help that sites like Lulu, Create My Books, and BookBaby do.
  • Books can be sold only through Amazon.

Create My Books

  • Paperback and hardback options, four paper options, eight trim size options.
  • You can order a single book or get a discount on volume orders.
  • This service offers seven different Word templates for interior book design and 23 PDF templates for cover design.
  • Authors have the option to sell publicly to anyone through their digital bookstore, or keep it private and let readers buy only through a link you provide.


BookBaby has two printing options: global print on demand and direct-to-reader. Global print on demand allows you to make your book discoverable through retailers like Amazon and Barnes & Noble, and direct-to-reader lets you sell through your own BookBaby digital storefront.


  • Authors have the option to distribute through major book retailers like Barnes & Noble, Books-a-Million, and Powell’s.
  • If you choose to make your book available through retailers like Barnes & Noble and Amazon, you’ll bring in a lower royalty rate (compared to direct-to-reader). You also won’t be able to package your own orders and include notes or autographs.
  • Books can be found and purchased on the public BookBaby digital store.
  • Authors can find editing, proofreading, and book design services through the BookBaby website.
  • Templates for book design and for promotional materials are available.
  • Print book proofs are available for $99.


  • Print your book on sustainably sourced paper using vegetable-based inks.
  • You have the option to review digital proofs before ordering physical copies.
  • Mixam is one of the more affordable book printers, though it provides fewer design and distribution choices.
  • As the author, you’re in charge of distribution. Mixam does not let readers buy directly from the site.


  • Easy print-on-demand ordering.
  • Ingram Spark is one of the more affordable book printers, though it provides fewer design and paper quality options.
  • Authors can distribute books through Amazon, Apple, Kobo, and Barnes & Noble.
  • If you find a type or want to make a change to your book, you can upload a new file and order new books.

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