Print on Demand Publishing - Questions You Should Ask Before Signing Up

Print on demand publishing (also called P.O.D.) is an affordable and easy way to get a book into the hands of readers. These companies will take your text and book cover design and create a printed book. Some companies will even provide you with an ISBN (a unique identifier for your book) and provide other services such as editing, cover design, marketing and distribution packages and even selling your book from their web site. (Be sure to read my article on the difference between p.o.d. printers and publishers.)

In print on demand publishing, there are companies that will provide excellent service in exchange for your hard-earned money and those that just care about their bottom line. This is why is it essential to put aside starry-eyed dreams of best seller status while you carefully read the contract. Better yet, hire a lawyer. If you balk at the idea of spending money to have someone read the contract, keep in mind that if you sign away your rights to a work that has taken you years to produce, the cost to your wallet will be nothing compared to the cost to your soul.

If you've decide to go with print on demand publishing, here are some important questions to ask yourself about the contract (remember, I recommend that you hire an attorney):

  • Do you retain the copyright?
  • Is the contract non-exclusive? This becomes important if a big-name publisher becomes interested in your book.
  • Will the print on demand publisher sell your book on their web site?
  • What percentage of the profit (royalties) will you make when the book is sold to a library, a retailer, a wholesaler, a distributor or through the publisher's web site?
print on demand publishing
  • What is your cost for a copy of the book? (If you want to make money on book sales, this is an important question. As I mentioned in a previous article, my cost for a 208 page book with 4 color cover is $4.02 per copy from a well-known print-on-demand printer. This is higher than what you would pay if you took your book to an offset printer and less than what you will pay from a print on demand publishing company.)
  • Do you have final approval over the cover design? If not, will your feedback be considered?
  • What retail price will the publisher set for the book? will you be consulted about this price? Is it reasonable given competitive titles out there?
  • Does the company make it clear that you are responsible for marketing? This is important for new authors to realize. Books don't sell themselves, but are sold through marketing and promotion which is driven by the author.
  • How are royalties paid? How often? This is important because if they hold your money for three months or more, the print on demand publishing company is getting free use of your money. Qualify this with the understanding that the book trade pays notoriously slow. Is there a minimum payment?

Probably the best, most affordable P.O.D. printer today is Create Space. It has all the top benefits listed in the bullet list above and also gives you the best options with regard to getting the word out about your book. Since Create Space is owned by Amazon, you will automatically get to list your book for sale on the biggest retail site on the web. Take a few moments to follow our step-by-step tutorial for setting up your print on demand publishing account with Create Space.

If for some reason, you choose to go with another company, make sure to take a look at the books that they have published in the past. If they are mostly vanity-type books, beware. However, if all you want to do is get your work published and give it to friends and relatives, then the issues I have raised may be of little concern. If you are serious author, consider what I have laid out in this article very carefully and consider following the recommendation that I made in the paragraph above.

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