Thursday, January 1, 2009

POD Info

Print On Demand Publishing
Tips & Traps

The world of self-publishing is changing. Gone are the days when your only
option was lugging a manuscript to a printer, negotiating a print-run quantity
and price, then storing boxes and boxes of books in your garage.

Innovations in technology have created an entirely new choice for authors opting to self-publish.


What is POD? Print On Demand (POD) publishing is exactly what its name implies. Rather than printing a set number of books, or a "run," POD companies only print a book when it is ordered. Nearly all POD companies are entirely digital



How much does POD cost?
Some companies, like Lulu and CreateSpace, offer basic servies for no fee. Depending on the company and the services you choose, costs can range from less than one-hundred dollars per title to thousands of dollars per title.



Why did I choose Print on Demand publishing?
I ventured into self-publishing with a book I intended to give to my Mom as a Mother's Day present. It began as a small project. I only needed the one copy. For that reason, Print On Demand was the perfect choice for me. As the popularity of the book grew and more people wanted copies, I looked into traditional self-publishing as an option but decided that I preferred the convenience, ease and low upfront costs of Print On Demand.



Things I've learned along the way.
There are so many lessons, it's difficult to keep it brief. How about a list?

  • Know what you want before you begin investigating companies. You'll waste alot of time if you don't know what you're looking for.
  • Don't underestimate the impact shipping has on your overall costs. This impacts your readers' costs, as well. Check shipping prices of the companies you are considering printing with.
  • Always have copies of your book(s) on hand for sale to friends, family, strangers who happen to be interested. This means ordering a copy before you run out. (Take into account shipping times, this slows your turnover.)

POTENTIAL POD TRAPS

  • Many former "Vanity Presses" are switching ot POD technology. Before paying for services or signing any contracts, do your research: read-up on the company and its competitors and know exactly what you are signing.
  • Without an ISBN, a book cannot be sold in a retail setting. Some copanies provide ISBNs for free. Know your options.
  • POD companies offer many services for an additional fee. Know what you are signing up for and the cost before you commit. If the company is pushing you to buy a product or service you do not want or need, be wary!
  • A company that charges you simply to provide information should raise an immediate red flag. They are a service provider, you are the customer. Information should always be free.



Questions to ask when choosing a POD company

  • Do you need editing services, proofreading or cover-creation services?
  • Do you need assistance creating, formatting and/or uploading files?
  • Ho much money are you willing to invest in your book? How much money are you willing to provide upfront?
  • Are you willing to do your own marketing or do you wish to pay for marketing services?
  • Do you want to sell print copies or electronic copies or both?
  • Do yo uwant to sell through your own website, the POD website, online retailers or all three? Will you be ordering books to sell off-line?
  • Do you intend your book for a large audience or do you plan to sell or give copies to family and friends only?

Know what you want before you begin our search. Find a company that meets your needs.




Is Print on Demand Right For You?



PROS

  • No inventory - books are printed only after they are ordered, so you have no inventory to store or track
  • Ease of creation - no need to provide the printer with a hard copy or send your manuscript through the mail
  • Convenience - create, format and upload your book from your personal computer over the internet
  • Produce availability - sell your book via your own website, the POD website and online retailer
  • Initial costs - without a specified print run, initial investment will often be lower than traditional self-publishing, you only order as many copies as you want at a time

CONS

  • When a book is needed, it must be ordered and shipped. This can increase wait times and adds the price of shipping to your overall costs
  • A completely computerized system may be difficult if you are less computer savvy (most PODs work hard to make their sites user-friendly)
  • Low visibility - without work on your part, you won't sell a lot of books. This is the lot of all self-published authors
  • Higher costs per book (than traditional self-publishing) - POD books have a higher per copy cost. You are left with the option of setting a higher selling cost and selling fewer due to price or cutting your profit margin in order to sell more books

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