If you've decided to use print on demand technology for printing and fulfillment of your book, this is a must-read article. Make sure to read and bookmark this page so you can come back and review before signing a contract with a POD book publisher.
Print on demand technology is the wave of the future. With
this technology, your book is printed one copy at a time. This has many
advantages for the author. First, is the small initial outlay of money
required for the book. Rather than going with an offset printer and
ordering 2000 copies of your book, you can order 100 copies or 500
copies to see how well the book sells. While you won't be required to
put up a lot of money for the initial print run, you will be paying more
per copy, in many cases, as much as twice as much per book.
Experienced authors may try to dissuade you form using print on demand technology. One thing they'll say is that it produces a poor quality book. My first book, Keepers of the Children: Native American Wisdom and Parenting is print on demand and has won four awards and been a finalist in countless other contests. Not once, has a judge made a comment about the print quality of the book. In other words, while the quality might not surpass that of offset printing, in the very least, it is sufficient. Sufficient enough for my book to win a national award in a contest in which it was competing with books from well known authors and big publishers.
First time authors take note: there is a difference between a print on demand publisher and a pod printer. I went with a pod printer. I provided them with a pdf file of my book (which describes the layout). I provided them with the cover design. All they do is print the book, bind it and ship it to me or for me. I do all the rest.
This means that I am the publisher—I own the content, the cover design, the layout and the ISBN. When the book is ordered by distributors or wholesalers or companies like Amazon, it is shipped for me and I receive a statement. It is important to note that while I receive the statements on a monthly basis, I don't get paid until two months after the books have shipped. This is why it may be wise for some authors to go with an offset printer once you know your book will sell, except that you still might end up with boxes of inventory.
For a tutorial on how to sign up with the top POD printer, click on print on demand publishing. In addition to making it easy and affordable to create your book, you'll also get to sell it on Amazon, which is the biggest book retailer on the web.
On the other hand, a print on demand publisher will take your content, lay it out, design a cover and produce and print the final product. Do you see the difference between the two? While some authors consider these extra services a big convenience, make sure to read your contract. In exchange for these services, some pod publishers get the rights to your book (in some cases, for as long as seven years). This is not much different from going with a big publisher, where you receive only a small portion of the profits and do not own the rights to your book.
Although it's no different in terms of the profit split, there's a
huge difference in terms of the marketability of your book. First,
remember—if your book is successful, you don't own it. Second, there's a
stigma in the book trade against books produced by print on demand
publishers (not pod printers). Pick the names of some pod publishers, go
to your local book store and find out how many of these titles your
bookstore carries. This will give you an idea of the resistance to these
Now that I've made this point, I'm compelled to qualify it by saying that I do know some authors who have gone with a print on demand publisher and been very happy. In most cases, these are people who don't care about the money (because they don't need to)—people whose work has been rejected by big publishers and just want to get their work out there. A friend of mine recently published her second book with the same pod publisher.
Regardless of what you decide
to do, know that you will be responsible for marketing your book.
Whichever direction you take, there will be a contract involved. Make
sure to read it carefully. Better yet, protect your work and hire a
lawyer to advise you.