by Maralyn D. Hill and Brenda Hill
What is POD? Digital printing technology enables a book to be printed and bound in a few minutes. It provides a cost effective means to print as little as one or several books at a time. It does not involve the costly setup fees associated with regular offset printing.
How do you pick a POD?
- Talk to others.
- Read publishers’ contracts thoroughly.
- Go on-line to writers’ forums and see what others say.
- A Google Search for Print on Demand will get current articles on the subject.
- Set-up costs naturally matter, but free or low does not necessarily mean best.
- Do you want or need color printing? That limits the number of POD publishers.
- Do you want to include a CD with your book? Some POD publishers now offer that service.
- Do the publishers charge an annual fee to keep you listed on their website?
- Do the publishers accept book returns from book stores?
- What type of discount does the author receive?
- How often does the publisher pay royalties?
- How do they distribute your book?
- Do they have a website with pages devoted to your book?
- Do they provide you with the details to format your own book or must you pay extra to use their formatting service?
- What, if any, rights do they expect to have? Be sure you maintain your copyright.
Most authors want the basic package to include internal layout, ISBN number, and distribution through on-line stores including Amazon, and Barnes & Noble.
Read the contract and be careful not to give away your rights. Compare royalties and how they are determined and paid. Be sure listing is available through Ingram or Baker and Taylor if you want any chance of being placed in local bookstores. Also, a return program is a plus. Finally, the publisher’s reputation matters.
Most who publish with traditional publishers, large or small, will say that is the only way to go. However, we’ve met many who were published traditionally and when their sales dropped to 5 or 10,000 annually, they were dropped. In a few cases, these individuals started their own publishing company, went with a small publisher, or POD.
Even though POD is not as cost effective as a press where you purchase 1-5,000 books at a time (and store and ship them), we feel the services POD provides outweigh the cons.
Maralyn Hill and Brenda Hill, two published authors, have been working together as friends and partners over twenty years. They have shared joys, sorrows, and worldwide adventures. Among their unique characteristics, Maralyn lives on the East Coast and Brenda lives on the West Coast. The entire book was written in tandem by e-mail, fax, and harried flights. You can contact them at: Authors@NoraLyn.Com. Their affairs will continue in future books as the Hills journey around the world dining and writing. $uccess, Your Path to a Successful Book.
by John F. Harnish
It isn’t news that the once booming economy of the United States is in dire straits. These trying times have touched our lives in a multitude of financially-challenged afflictions. Of special interest to authors is the detrimental impact this depressed economy is having on the book publishing industry.
The remaining mainstream book publishing houses have had more layoffs and down-sizing by dropping several well known house imprints. There is a major reduction in the number of purchased manuscripts being acquired and eventually published.
Slashed advertising budgets are being allocated to launch books by eminent and long established authors – they’re putting their bets on what has sold well, book after book. Corporate mandates make it mission critical for every published book to produce their projected numbers. Staffing cuts have reduced several publishing services – such as copyediting and rights verification – traditionally done by the mainstream houses.
All things considered, this is not the time to invest your time attempting to attract the interest of a major house in publishing your book. Sometimes knowing what not to do is just as valuable as knowing what to do. Now is the time to renew you efforts to promote your book to people who will perhaps buy a copy of your book. Nothing ventured, nothing gained.
Print media is struggling to retain a dwindling subscriber base that’s essential for justifying ever increasing advertising rates. Once highly valued column inches devoted to reviewing new releases have been dropped or drastically reduced in several leading daily and monthly printed publications. Ads for new books in many of these publications have been reduced in size and frequency, because these costly advertisements aren’t producing expected book sales in this depressed economy. In troubled times, advertising budgets are usually the first to be trimmed.
Reach out to family, friends and associates who have read your book and ask them to write and post online reviews or blurbs – every bit of exposure for your book is a benefit. Make it easy by doing a Google search for websites, sites where the info about your book would be of interest to visitors, and send your potential reviewers the link, so they can put up what they think about your book. Be patient, as it may take awhile for them to write a blurb and post or send it to you.
If you haven’t invested your time and a little bit of money in creating a website for your published book, now is the time to do it. Keep the design of your website simple, and focused entirely on your book and you, the author. Don’t mess around with setting up a shopping cart to do direct sales – you want to do a brief show-and-tell to make the sale, and then direct the buyer to www.buybooksontheweb.com and to your book page, place their book order.
What kind of books are selling in these turbulent times??? How-to and do-it-yourself books are popular because they often include things you can do yourself to save money. Almost any book that will help readers save time and money is worthy of promoting in targeted markets where the benefits are easy to relate with. Self-improvement books also sell well.
Books expanding on health issues and developing healthy attitudes and habits are popular as well as inspirational books that offer positive encouragement.
All types of novels telling interesting and compelling stories are perfect for escaping into. Popular fiction sells in depressed times, but you need to use your creativity to hook potential readers on the escapism qualities of your novel.
One of the ways for generating a new revenue flow is to make your published content available for sale in different versions such as eBooks and audio books.
Photo courtesy of Dani Simmonds.
by LinDee Rochelle
If you’ve been roaming around the book publishing industry for a while, you’ve likely stumbled across the Publisher’s Weekly blog that has everyone talking around the virtual water cooler.
From the president of PW, “We are returning to our earliest roots. PW dates to 1872, when it was first known as Trade Circular Weekly and listed all titles published that week in what was then a nascent industry. We have decided to embrace the self-publishing phenomenon in a similar spirit. Call it what you will―self-publishing, DIY, POD, author-financed, relationship publishing, or vanity fare. They are books and that is what PW cares about. And we aim to inform the trade.”
Wow. Do you know how long we’ve waited for someone in the “upper realm” to believe we exist―and have more to offer than formulaic prose? So why am I not happy? (No comments from you guys about women never being happy … very funny …)
Seriously, left-handed compliments are a thin disguise for disdain. In the eyes of Publisher’s Weekly and many others who either sit on the throne of traditional publishing, or grovel at its feet, we are still nothing more than the illiterate redheaded stepchild.
Those of you who have followed me through Infinity Publishing to Author Nation may be familiar with the blog I posted in response to recent years’ doomsday predictions of print books dying a horrible, imminent death, “Publishing’s Death Knell Premature.”
It didn’t take a crystal ball
One particular paragraph stood out in my re-reading of it: “Author-originated publishing has suffered long enough as the industry's redheaded stepchild! It was shunned in its infancy, kicked around in its adolescence, and is finally ready―with the help of the economic crisis―to experience its final growth into adulthood and stand proud as publishing hope for authors who have real talent.
Mmm, I love it when a prediction comes true. Much has happened in the industry since that post―some good, some not-so-wonderful. However, two points come quickly to mind: 1) print books are NOT going away―book STORES are; and 2) my prediction remains valid that traditional publishers and the rest of their pompous entourage better realize the power of the people in “self publishing”―or suffer the consequences.
Before you jump all over me, let me clarify―some book stores have already closed. Big-box chain stores are sitting on Humpty Dumpty’s shaky wall. Independent stores and book sections within chains will survive in moderation, IF they’re smart and find their niche.
But print books will continue to sell―online. I just bought another one for posterity and my research (Cousin Brucie: My Life in Rock ‘N’ Roll Radio, out-of-print). They will share more of the marketplace with digital books, but there will always be a need for print publications. Oh, you don’t think so?
Let me digress, please
A quick aside on “power”―the electrical kind: I am concerned about our technology―not because it’s usurping my beloved book-in-hand moments, but on a much more basic need level. I was without power for 12 hours last week. Now, that isn’t nearly as long as the 4-day stint my friend, John Harnish, experienced last month. But in the 7 awake hours it represented, I had to find something to do WITHOUT MY INTERNET! OMG.
What was my alternative? Certainly not reading a book on an eReader … while the battery would last for an hour or so … what then? Nope. And though my land line didn’t work, my cell phone did―5 minutes on the ‘Net sucked it dry. So, I turned to my trusty flashlight on my actually printed-on-paper books and newspaper. And I learned a lot. Foremost, I have more “D” batteries lying around than eReader batteries.
Power problems will continue to plague us, as nothing can predict natural disasters. However, I don’t believe any of our power grids are up to the challenge of the technology we’re creating. I’m keeping my print books. But back to PW and the power of self-publishing …
Well-meaning, or grudging jump into the money pit?
Although it’s nice to feel the fuzzy warm touch of a faction as venerable as PW, the announcement of their “Select quarterly supplement for self-published titles,” still relegates independent authors to the back of the bus. We’re not allowed to sit with the kids up front. In fact, we get our own bus. Add to that, not “charging for reviews” but requiring a “processing fee”―and still the redheaded stepchild must walk 10 paces behind on the way into the schoolhouse.
Only the toughest of new authors and the smartest of traditional authors turned renegade, have the self-pride to withstand the stigma and persevere.
While independent authors may take advantage of PW’s Select service because of its lopsided validation, they won’t be fooled into thinking the $149 fee is anything but pure revenue for PW, in times when everyone is looking for a new way to make the almighty buck.
Ah―I guess I should give them a little credit―we get a six-month PW subscription with that fee. Woohoo- but no guarantee that our books will be reviewed. Sigh.
I’m going to say it again, as I did nearly two years ago, “Right up front, aspiring authors MUST consider professional editing as mandatory to publishing their book for market. If it's going to be a family history only, then by all means, write with reckless abandon and cracked grammar (not grandma). But if you truly feel your story has merit―prove it. If you don't have enough dollars in the cookie jar for editing, you're not ready to publish and sell your manuscript.” Trust me- even editors need editors. I should know.
If we’re to win this self-publishing game, we need to take pride in our work and publish quality books through quality publishers―if we don’t take ourselves seriously, no one else will. Although we may desire reviews by those entities that have grown disproportionately advantaged and forgotten that the roots of publishing includes self-publishing (think Ben Franklin, Mark Twain and Virginia Woolf), with the advent of the Internet and our readers’ reviews- I predict it won’t be long when we can do without them.
Photos courtesy of Alessandro Paiva and Vjeran Lisjak.
by John F. Harnish
Yes, it’s true, greedy corporate communications giants are conspiring with information purveyors and conjuring plans to slice the Internet into speed zones diced into premium positioning levels – not to be confused with the level marketplace where authors are free to engage in opportunities to publish and distribute their books to the public, via the Internet.
Foretelling of the potential dollar dominated plots threatening the free and equal access for all Internet users is similar to the restrictive printed communications during the Dark Ages – ruling royalty and prevailing religious orders controlled duplication and distribution of books deemed suitable for the selected few. Now, in the 21st century, the threat of imposed controls comes from the financially endowed, electronically empowered Internet gatekeepers fixing speed limits aligned with choice parking lots.
As writers, authors, publishers, booksellers, and book lovers we’ve come a long way since movable type first kissed the ink of printed words upon the page of a book available for public consumption hundreds of centuries ago. However, the highways and byways of open channels of communications are in imminent danger of greedy redirection. For authors with published books for sale on the Internet this means that unless your book-dedicated website has a parking space at the end of the express lane, it will take folks a longer time to eventually find the path with speed bumps, leading to your book.
What can you do about this lurking threat? Learn more of its perils and what you can do to maintain Net neutrality with open and equal access guaranteed for all folks, by visiting: http://blog.infinitypublishing.com/darkagesperilthreatensenlightenedinternet
Photos courtesy of Bill Owen and Ariel da Silva Parreira.