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Finding the Right Printer for Your Picture Book: New Zealand Printers vs Overseas Printers

If you’ve read my blog before, I probably sound like a broken record when I say that, if you’re self-publishing a book, you should choose your printer before you commission any artwork. But, with so many picture book printers out there, how can you ensure you’ve chosen the right one?

Let me help you! 

I’m an illustrator, so what the hell would I know about printing companies? Well, the first thing that you need to know about me is that I don’t just work as a children’s book illustrator, I help self-publishing authors just like you, in whatever way they need me to along the journey of bringing their books to life. Sometimes that means designing their books, editing their story, or assisting with marketing, and often that means helping to choose a printer, and liaising with the printers once the digital file of the book is ready to print.

The other thing you should know about me is that, over the last few years, I’ve illustrated more self-published picture books than I can count, and most have them have been printed through different companies. So, essentially through trial and error, I’ve learned a fair bit along the way! Let me sum it up for you:

New Zealand Printers

I’ve had the pleasure of illustrating books that have been printed through amazing local printers like Copy Press, Blue Print, and ODT Print. I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend any of these printers for their lovely service, beautiful products, and helpful advice. 

If this is your first time having a book printed, these guys will hold your hand, guide you through the process, and be there during New Zealand business hours to answer all of your questions! 

They’ve all produced high-quality paperback books that I have felt proud to show off! I’ve also heard that Copy Press can be quite helpful in opening doors to have your book stocked in New Zealand bookstores, so it’s definitely worth chatting to them about the services they offer. 

All of that sounds great, but (because there’s always a but)… that doesn’t mean that a local printer is the right choice for your children’s book.  

If you’re looking to print a board book, a hardcover, or a book with unusual features like flaps, or cut-outs, you may struggle to find a printer in New Zealand who can create your book for a low enough price to make a profit. 

Overseas Printers

Before I talk about overseas printers, let me preface by saying that I am all for shopping locally. However, publishing is a tough business, and self-publishing is even more so. If you’re considering self-publishing, I want your book to be successful, profitable, and beautiful! In some cases, that might be easier to achieve with an overseas printer like the legendary Toppan Leefung Printing which many of the big publishing houses use. 

We all know that the cost of living in New Zealand is high so, naturally, local printers are generally going to cost more. Using a printer in a company where the cost of products and wages is lower means that you may be able to make more profit per book. 

However, most printers have a minimum purchase quantity to be able to take advantage of their best prices, and others may not take small print run orders at all. So while the price per book may be lower through an overseas printer, that’s not much help if their minimum purchase is still higher than you’d pay a Kiwi printer for the number of books you’d like, and there’s always a chance that you may end up with thousands of books stacked around your house.  

If you use a reputable printing house, quality should never be an issue, no matter where in the world they are located. But if you have a certain date you’d like to have your book for sale by, you may need to ask around about lead times, and shipping times, to ensure it’s possible with your preferred printer. Overseas printers can be lightning-fast, but they’ll still be limited by the time it takes to transport your books to you - they can’t compete with local printers in that regard, but I just see that as an incentive to be organised and get the ball rolling with your book ASAP!  

So, Overseas, or Local? 

Ultimately, if you’re using a world-renowned printer, it doesn’t matter where they are based. Think about how many books you need printed, and when you need them by, and you’ll be able to find an incredible printer who can get your books printed with incredible speed and incredible quality. 

If you’re looking to print a large run of books, an overseas printer will be able to do it at a fraction of the cost, but communication may be more difficult with time differences and language barriers. 

If all of that sounds daunting, book a Brainstorming Session with me and I can help you choose the right option for your book!

An illustration of two tui in a pohutakawa tree on a beach in New Zealand

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