The important factor in this question is, for me. You have to find the right fit for your needs and requirements, beyond who fits your print run needs. For instance, CreateSpace and Lightening Source essentially meet the same function, printing one or two books at a time. However, CreateSpace doesn’t have anyone that you can talk to. Literally. All that you can do is send an email, and wait for a response. There is no way to just pick up a phone, give a ring, and get someone to chat with if you have a question. Lightening Source, however, has great folks who will answer your call, or give you a ring back at least, and talk with you one on one. That being said, they don’t want to hear your story, they want to hear what they can help you with. They are used to dealing with distributors, and the likes, so they expect the professionalism level to be up there. With that being said, they will be more than happy to answer your questions and clear up any confusion or concern that you may be having. CreateSpace may be just what you are wanting though! Not having to talk with someone isn’t a bad thing for everyone! Chances are though, one of the two is going to be a better fit for your needs.
When it comes to short run POD or offset, though, you will more than likely get human contact. Make an appointment if you can, sit down with them and see what they have to offer. Ask them all of your questions, ask to see the samples that you want to see. If you can’t make it there in person, ask them if you can make an appointment with them for a phone call. Ask the questions, and get to know who you are dealing with. I say make an appointment for this, because it allows us to set away time to talk to you, where nothing else is pressing in on that time. If you just call up, we may not be able to give you all of the time that you need at that moment, because we may be in the midst of dealing with something for another client. I know that for myself, personally, I always try to give my clients as much time and attention as they need, but that’s not always completely possible. An appointment for that initial call definitely allows me the time to really settle in and focus on your needs. With that being said, if you are having a code red scenario, or need an answer to a question right away, then call in! After these discussions, you will know who is the right fit for you. Gauge your comfort level, your confidence in them, and if they made you feel like your questions were answered. If not, it doesn’t mean that they are a bad company, it may just mean that they aren’t the right fit for you!
In the end, get quotes, ask questions, and really educate yourself. You’ll be thankful for it when all is said and done. If you want to see samples, make an appointment and come in. If you can’t, then you can ask for samples to be sent to you. Don’t be surprised though, if they say that they can’t send samples of the books. Many of us out there retain no rights or ownership to your book (make sure that you find a printer with that policy!!) so we can’t really send you a sample, because we don’t have the right to. With that being said, if that is the case, ask the printer if you can send them in a page or two for them to print up a sample for you. There may or may not be a cost associated with this, depending on the printer your are working with, and the number of pages that you want in your sample. Ask, and ye shall receive!
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