Set up your office to write “how-to” books! #5

So far I really haven’t talked about what equipment you will need. A telephone, a computer of course, a coffee pot or tea kettle would be cool. A desk and book shelves would be helpful of course.

But the next most important item you need to consider … even before your computer … is your printer.

Sounds strange doesn’t it. But the thing is there have been so many advancements that your printer has become a key decision.

First off, you need to determine if you need a printer at all (okay I exagerate here 😎 ). Are you going to be writing eBooks or physical books? Are you going to be writing books for traditional publication or books for on-demand publication? Are you more comfortable working on paper or on the screen?

Depending on your answers you may find that you don’t really need a printer at all… I’m definately exagerating here. 😈   At one time, traditional publishers demanded that all manuscripts be printed on paper for them. That’s no longer true — many (maybe most) will accept computer files of specific formats (usually .txt, .doc or .pdf).  And many commercial printers such as Kinko’s and Kwik-Kopy have printers available for rent.

However, once you determine your needs there are three basic types of printers you can choose from.

1. Black and White Laser printers.  Laser printers were once solely the printer of choice for large companies. However, prices have literally fallen through the floor in the last few years. As a result. black and white laser printers  can be quite inexpensive both to purchase and to run … well under $100.  If you are doing nothing but printing manuscripts these are a godsend and are the printer of choice for most people who write how-to books.

2. Colour ink-jet printers. For many years, now, the colour ink jet printer has been the only choice that most writers and home computing users could afford. They now produce colour prints which are indistinguishable from a traditional photograph. And they are very cheap to buy. However, they are not cheap to run. The inks they use dry out even if they aren’t used (generally within six months) and the ink cartridges are very expensive to replace.

3. Colour laser printers. At one time, only the biggest companies or those who were in the business of selling colour copies could afford a colour laser printer. In addition, their prints were not as sharp as an ink-jet printer. This is no longer true. New printers have come on the market which are quite inexpensive (anywhere from $150  to $300).  And their quality is as good as a ink jet of a few years ago (although they still aren’t as good as a current photo quality ink jet printer).  These are now a viable alternative for the home office. Their cost of operation is much higher than that of a black and white laser printer. However, because they do not have liquid ink, their cost of operation is much lower than that of an ink jet unless they are heavily used.