Hopefully during this time of year, around March – April, your group is at the stage in your project where you are ready to go to print. Some groups may not need a printer – either choosing to go with an Ebook edition or using an online-based platform to host their project. Choosing a printer can be a challenge. Are you printing in colour? Black and white? Do you choose a domestic printer or European, or Asian? What are the costs and delivery time? What kind of quality and format are you expecting to print in? These are questions you have to consider when choosing a printer. Depending on your funding, your group might have to go with a UCL-approved printer. Such is the case if you are relying on the money assigned to each group by UCL — a total of £222.
Depending on the quote the printers offer, the format of your book, and the size of your print run, this might prove to be slightly problematic. Extra funding, via crowdsourcing or sponsorship, will give you more freedom and allow you to choose a printer that fits your needs. That is money you have 100% control over.
This is the option my group went with. Through crowdfunding, Works In Progress raised more than £3000, which has allowed us to choose Clays, an established printer that offers quality printing. We even have the funds to print in hardback!
Before going to print, you obviously need to have your manuscript ready. The printer you choose will provide the specs and information on how to prepare the file you are sending to print. If you have the money for it and your manuscript includes images like Works In Progress, you may choose to do a print test before going through with the actual printing. A print test via Clays is a 16-page text section printed digitally on the same type of paper that will be used in the actual book. This allows your group to check what the images will look like on the page and give you time to fix any potential issues that may arise such as colour, size, or quality. For Works In Progress, as a transmedia project, the book also has QR-codes that link to our webpage and that we would like to make sure work properly before sending the book to print. The print test lets us do that.
Finally, when you have chosen a printer and have prepared your manuscript in the proper format (Works In Progress is printing in hardcover B-format), make sure that all your dates are in order. From the time you deliver your final manuscript to print, it will take approximately three weeks, though this may differ from printer to printer. Your print schedule will affect when you are able to provide potential retailers with their stock or deliver the book to your end customer. If your group is having a book launch or presenting the book at the London Book Fair, the print schedule will affect these dates as well.
Going to print can be a stressful time, and there is a lot to consider, but if you find a printer that matches your needs your group will be just fine!
List of UCL-approved printers: