Printing your Self-published Book: How many books should I print in my first run?

When I decided to self-publish Leaf, I made an appointment with  Patricia (Trish) Romanchuk, manager of the Book Division at Blitzprint. I needed to know how much it was going to cost me to print my book. She needed to know an amazing number of things before she could calculate that cost. Questions and answers were flying thick and fast during that first meeting (although it must be said that she was way better at answering questions than I was). It was exilerating . . . and overwhelming.

Trish must have recognized that glazed look on my face as we ended our first meeting. She urged me to contact her with any questions that surfaced while I processed the mountain of new information. I took her up on that offer and she has been amazingly patient and gentle and prompt. I don’t think I ever waited more than 24 hours to receive an answer from her (and there were a lot of questions).

When I decided to make self-publishing the focus of this blog, I asked Trish if she would be willing to provide information on the printing side of things. She was, as usual, very receptive and suggested that we start with some of the most frequently asked questions.

So here we are with Trish Tidbit #1:

How do I know how many books I should print?

For your first run of books, I wouldn’t recommend printing a large run.  There are many reasons for this. Firstly, everyone has mistakes in their first editions. Even the people who got it professionally edited and were published. Go grab any first edition and give it a read, you’ll see what I mean!

For some it is a simple scenario where they just ask for a couple of changes to be made on their file for the next run. For others, it becomes a situation where they have to replace paragraphs, pages, chapters, illustrations, diagrams, etc. You don’t want 10,000 dust collectors in your garage that you can go and look at when you feel like shedding a tear!

The other large reason is that you need to figure out your market. You can make predictions and do a ton of research, but until you are actually out there, in the selling game, it is really hard to determine how many books you are really going to sell. Also, like all things, when you start to sell, your momentum will typically start out a little slow until you get into the groove of things, get your contacts set up, etc.

Lastly, if you have a large number of books, chances are you are going to have to store them in your garage, basement, etc. You don’t want to keep books for an extended amount of time in an area with large fluctuations in temperature, humidity, or barometric pressure. That is just a good way to ruin a good book.

So what is considered a large run? What size would you recommend for a first printing?

A large run would be anything over 1,000, typically. I would recommend between 50 and 250 for a first run.

Trish Romanchuk is the manager of the book division for Blitzprint Inc. For more information on their book printing products and services, please visit their website,, or contact Trish directly at

Next week, Trish will describe the pros and cons of the different types of printing companies. Which one is the best fit for you?

Please, let us know what you think of this post. Was it helpful? What else do you need to know? Feel free to use the comment section to ask Trish your printing questions.

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