Skip to main content

Traditional Print Run / Print-On-Demand

How does self-publishing work when you're talking about traditional print runs and print-on-demand? What are the differences? We have the answer. 
  • Author:
  • Publish date:

Traditional print runs (the most common production method for traditional publishers) use offset printing—a transfer method that can have a high upfront cost, but a cheap unit cost. It makes sense for print runs reaching thousands of copies, but usually creates inventory that needs to be warehoused.

Print-on-demand or short-run digital printing is a popular option for self-publishers, and is also used by traditional publishers to keep titles in print or to rush books to market. It usually has low upfront costs, but high unit costs. Books are printed only when ordered; there is no inventory.

A Breakdown of Different Types of Self-Publishing:

EVERYTHING FROM E-BOOKS TO WEBSITES AND BLOGS (Go Digital)

INDEPENDENT SELF-PUBLISHING (Go Your Own Way)

SELF-PUBLISHING WITH HELP (Use a Service)

TRADITIONAL PRINT RUN / PRINT-ON-DEMAND (Create a Physical Book)

This article appeared in the March/April issue of Writer's Digest. Click here to order your copy in print. If you prefer a digital download of the issue, click here.

The Full Package on Self-Publishing:


writer's digest wd presents

WD Presents: An Interview with Steven Rowley and Jessica Strawser, 5 WDU Courses, and More!

This week, we're excited to announce our interview with Steven Rowley and Jessica Strawser, 5 WDU courses, and more!

Writer's Digest Best Everything Agent Websites for Writers 2022

Writer's Digest Best Everything Agent Websites for Writers 2022

Here are the top websites by and about agents as identified in the 24th Annual 101 Best Websites from the May/June 2022 issue of Writer's Digest.

Ashley Poston: On Love, Death, and Books

Ashley Poston: On Love, Death, and Books

Author Ashley Poston discusses how she combined her love of ghost stories, romance, and books into her new romance novel, The Dead Romantics.

Choosing Which Movements To Put in Your Fight Scene (FightWrite™)

Choosing Which Movements To Put in Your Fight Scene (FightWrite™)

Trained fighter and author Carla Hoch discusses how much of a fight's details to actually put into a story, and how even with fight scenes sometimes less is more.

5 Research Tips for Writing Historical Fiction, by Piper Huguley

5 Research Tips for Writing Historical Fiction

Author Piper Huguley shares her five research tips for writing historical fiction that readers love and writers love as well.

Announcing 40 More Plot Twist Prompts for Writers!

Announcing 40 More Plot Twist Prompts for Writers!

Learn more about 40 Plot Twist Prompts for Writers, Volume 2: ALL NEW Writing Ideas for Taking Your Stories in New Directions, by Writer's Digest Senior Editor Robert Lee Brewer. Discover fun and interesting ways to move your stories from beginning to end.

Interviewing Tips | Tyler Moss

Interviewing 101: Tips for Writers

Interviewing sources for quotes or research will be part of any writer's job. Here are tips to make the process as smooth and productive as possible.

Plot Twist Story Prompts: Eliminate Threat

Plot Twist Story Prompts: Eliminate Threat

Every good story needs a nice (or not so nice) turn or two to keep it interesting. This week, have a character work to eliminate a threat.

4 Tips for Writing Gothic Horror

4 Tips for Writing Gothic Horror

Gothic horror and its many subgenres continues to increase in popularity. Here, author Ava Reid shares 4 tips on writing gothic horror.