View Full Version : sites on POD and E-publishing

11-02-2005, 07:24 AM
Does anyone know of any sites that thoroughly explains the process of POD and/or E-publishing where I can get some simple research?

11-02-2005, 08:19 AM
Hmm...I'm not aware of any that cover the process of e-publishing as a whole. If you decide to go with a POD service (LSI for example) they'll have manuals on going through the process with them.

Are you looking to publish your own work? Publish others?

You might also want to ask over at the ebook-community (http://groups.yahoo.com/group/ebook-community/) list serve where several e-publishers and e-authors hang out.

Cathy C
11-02-2005, 07:18 PM
Jewel, when you say "POD," do you mean the process of the digital perfect-bound Print On Demand machine, or do you mean what is commonly referred to as the POD publishing business (i.e., subsidy "pay to play" publishing?) I can probably give you a run-down on either one, and know quite a bit about the e-pub process too. I've got one article on the differences in the types of publishers on my website, but could post it over here too. Let me know.

11-03-2005, 12:31 AM
Jewel, when you say "POD," do you mean the process of the digital perfect-bound Print On Demand machine, or do you mean what is commonly referred to as the POD publishing business (i.e., subsidy "pay to play" publishing?) I can probably give you a run-down on either one, and know quite a bit about the e-pub process too. I've got one article on the differences in the types of publishers on my website, but could post it over here too. Let me know.

I'm thinking I mean subsidy (a word I learned after the post) but if you like you can give me a run down on both. And about that article, why don't you post it over here for others to read as well
thanks cathy

Kiva Wolfe
12-12-2005, 01:29 AM
Jewel: In addition to subsidy and self-publishing, I can suggest a few sites that offer decent explanations about POD and E-Publishing.


New York’s BBB maintains an excellent library of articles about publishers. Check out Preditors & Editors for any posted complaints about a specific publisher. Sadly, the fee-based subsidy and vanity presses, which require the author to fork over a partial or total amount of publishing and promoting the book, have sullied the legitimate, non-fee Independent POD and e-Book industry.

For what it is worth, I am with an Independent POD and e-Book publisher. My experience has been extremely positive, and most important to me is that they work with me to promote my work, and also authorize bookstore returns. There are other good POD publishers out there, but you have to do your research to find them. If you are considering an E or POD publisher, a good start is to contact authors whose books they published and get that first-hand feedback.

Getting published is a long and sometimes arduous road for a writer to walk. I hope what I have offered up helps.

Cathy C
12-12-2005, 02:47 AM
Oops! :o I apparently missed your reply to my post, jewel! Here's the article I wrote on POD & Subsidy pubs.


By Cathy Clamp

Many aspiring authors are confused by the variety of publishers available in the industry. Since the goal of any author is to be published, does it matter what publisher is used? In a word -- maybe...

When a reader thinks of a publisher, they usually think of a large firm in New York that prints thousands or millions of books. The books, either paperback, trade, or hardback show up in every bookstore, discount store and grocery in the country and overseas. The large press companies are often called Normal Publishers, Traditional Publishers or TP for short. A TP is a company which employs full-time editors, cover artists, in-house attorneys and all of the support staff necessary to publish books. Usually, an author submits a manuscript and, if the manuscript appears commercially viable (see below articles for "What an Editor Looks For"), then the publisher pays the author an advance (up-front money which is the amount anticipated the book will earn), and begins the publication process of editing, copyediting, etc. The important thing to remember in TP is that the publisher takes on the financial risk of publishing the book. The author does not PAY ONE SINGLE DIME of the cost to publish the book! The publishing process is expensive, but a TP takes on the financial risk because their careful selection process generally means that at least 50% of the time, they will earn a profit. At a minimum, they plan to break even (including the royalties to the author.) They pay from 4%-10% to the author in royalties, which allows them to pay their expenses and still hopefully make a profit. An average mass paperback print run for a beginning author at a Traditional Press is 10,000-60,000 copies. Most any magazine, newspaper or website will review a traditionally published book.

The next type of publisher is a Small Publisher or Small Press. There are thousands of small presses all over the world. This type of publisher generally chooses books with "local appeal" or "genre appeal" that probably will not be interesting to nationwide audiences. Examples of this are regional historical books. While the details of the Battle of San Jacinto in Texas history might be interesting to Texans or students of history, they probably won't garner as much national attention as, say, the battle of the Alamo. A Small Publisher also has careful standards in choosing manuscripts -- probably more so than Traditional Publishers. Their dollars are tight, and have to be spent on offerings that have the greatest chance to break even in out-of-pocket expenses, since they also take on the financial risk of publishing the book. Again, the author does not PAY ONE SINGLE DIME of the cost to publish. A Small Press often does not offer an initial advance, but pays a little higher than average advance in exchange, usually 10%-12%, because they don't have the larger overhead of the Traditional Presses. A Small Publisher book is usually offered in most bookstores in the regional area of the subject matter, and is available through small distributors so that it can be ordered from anywhere. An average print run for a beginning author at a Small Press is 3,000-10,000 copies. Most magazines, newspapers and websites have a special "Small Press Reviewer" who seeks out exceptional books that are Small Press published to highlight each month.

For a book that has limited appeal (even smaller an area or group than regional), or is of a type that might not "fit" in a traditional genre (for example, a horror/erotica novel or a non-fiction book about the care and feeding of Brazilian llamas), then an author has the option to Self Publish. This is also known as SP. Self-published authors take the place of the publisher, because it is the AUTHOR who takes on the entire financial risk of publishing. The author pays for editing the book from a freelance editor; the author pays for the book to be formatted (if the author doesn't have the skill or knowledge); the author pays for the cover artist to design the front cover, the back cover and the spine art. The author pays to have the book printed, distributed and marketed. However, the author also receives the ENTIRE benefit of the purchase price from the public. Depending on how much of the design and marketing the author did him/herself, a sales price will pay the expenses and still net the author a profit that will be similar to what they would have recouped from a traditional or small publisher. Newspapers local to the author's home will usually review a self-published book, and the occasional magazine might look at SP novels once or twice a year. Some websites and independent reviewers are happy to review a self-published book.

But to get the book into the public's hands, an SP author is dependant on the services of a printer to put the book in final form. There are two types of presses available to a self published author. One is using the services of a small offset press -- the same ones that a small publisher uses. Normally, they require a minimum press run of 2,500 to 5,000 books. However, many SP authors can't afford this sort of up-front cost and have nowhere to warehouse the completed volumes.

So, a SP author's second option is a Print On Demand, or POD press. By using digital presses, a POD printer can store the completed manuscript, dimensions, cover art, plus any photos or graphs in a electronic folder and, "on demand" print out 100, 10 or even a single volume of the book. This makes it quite easy for an author to sell their books, because nothing has to be printed until the book is already sold -- making the prospect of recouping the expense guaranteed.

But the POD technology has also led to a whole new type of publisher -- the Vanity Publisher and Subsidy Publisher. What is the difference between them? Well, in reality -- there isn't one any more. Mind you, there used to be a difference. Before POD technology, a subsidy publisher was one which wasn't quite a small press. They would find obscure novels and give them a chance (hoping to strike gold), but because their finances were tight, they would ask for a small helping hand from the author to pay the printer for the first edition. That is to say, for a full press run of 2,500 copies, they would pay half and the author would pay half, and the subsidy press would then warehouse and sell the book as a traditional publisher does. The author would receive back their money for the print run as books were sold until paid back and then would drop into the more traditional royalty-based pay. Reviewers for newspapers and magazines looked kindly on subsidy presses, for the most part, because they were Small Press wanna-be's that would eventually turn into a solid company.

But all that changed with POD entered the picture. Suddenly, anyone could claim to be a publisher and take on manuscripts to earn money from -- all with no dollars out of pocket!

Now, to be fair, some subsidy publishers state up front that they are a printer. They make no bones about the fact that the AUTHOR bears the full financial responsibility for the production of the book. You will probably never recoup your investment, get a review, or make your fortune. And, the out of pocket investment can be quite large -- thousands of dollars more than a small press would pay to publish a book, because you're only doing it one at a time. But these fee-based subsidy presses DO actually have a niche in the world. They are perfect for family histories, where only a dozen or a hundred people will be interested in the book. They are great for organization cookbook fundraisers and the like. They are being paid to perform a service for people who don't have a publisher in the family. This is terrific, because books that might never have seen the light of day can make it to print. This is the good sort of Vanity Press -- the desire to see a product in print that a large publisher would probably never look at. Perhaps it's vain to want to hold a book in your hands, but sometimes it's enough to make the writer happy. An author is unlikely to ever get a book published by a vanity/subsidy publisher reviewed. The magazines, newspapers and websites don't consider them "published." The publishing industry as a whole actually considers a vanity/subsidy publisher to be LESS than a self-published book. It's not considered a writing credit for any future contract negotiations with a large publisher. Vanity publishers are nothing more than "printers" to the rest of the book industry. The good vanity printers know this. If they use the term "publisher" at all, it is meant to mean that they assist in formatting the book before it is printed.

Unfortunately, some vanity publishers have taken advantage of the good name that subsidy publishers once had and have ruined it. They have led aspiring authors to believe that they are good and kind small presses which only want to help by-pass the rigmarole that traditional presses "put an author through." But therein resides the lie of dishonest vanity presses -- traditional publishers and small publishers are CONSTANTLY seeking new writers. But they do expect a writer to have mastered his/her craft. Dishonest vanity publishers have no such expectation. They will print EXACTLY what is given to them. If editing is done at all, it is to correct things like punctuation or word choice. Part of the lie is that they are just like traditional publishers, who will edit these things, but they fail to mention that traditional publishers ALSO edit the plot, the characters, timeline and motivation. These are required to make the best book possible. A vanity publisher isn't concerned about the best book, because the author is paying the bill. And if the author is not paying the bill -- a terrific ploy by some vanity publishers -- then the READER is footing the bill. While the cost to publish is not out of the author's pocket, it is ALSO not out of the publisher's pocket. They are not willing to take on the financial risk of publishing. A similar trade paperback that will retail for $14.95 from a traditional or small publisher will cost $19.95 to $24.95 from a vanity publisher -- so the end reader is paying the actual expense of printing (plus profit to the publisher, which is how they can maintain their business). Most author contracts state that royalties are based on NET sales, rather than on retail price, so the extra cost of the book does not benefit the author at all.

REMEMBER THE GOLDEN RULE: Gold flows TO the author, not away from the author. If you want to write the one book that's in your head, and never expect to write another; never expect to have a career of writing; and never hope to make enough money to REPLACE your day-job salary, then a subsidy publisher is probably fine. But if you are an aspiring author who hopes to build a career of five, ten or a hundred books, then you should learn your craft, take your time, and stay with the traditional publisher or small press.




Every writer wants to see their written word in print. Most writers want to be paid for the fruits of their creativity. But sometimes, a person has tried and tried for years without success to find a publisher, or the writer expects to be published from the moment they put pen to paper, and frustration sets in. That frustration is the sound of a cash register ringing to an unscrupulous publisher. So, what sort of catch-phrases should you watch for? What tricks will they use to try to get you to open your wallet? Read and learn some of the ACTUAL phrases pulled from vanity press sites and advertisements...

1. We're looking for writers! This is the first warning sign, and it's often coupled with phrases like "mainstream publisher seeking authors with a fresh voice," "the diamond-in-the-rough author is our passion," "seeking writers with exceptional talent," "we provide a haven for unknown authors," or my personal favorite, "actively searching for undiscovered masters of the written word." :ROFL: Here's the truth: Traditional book publishers have no need to advertise. They're inundated every day with submissions. So if you read an advertisement in a magazine, on the web, or in a newspaper, don't answer it.

2. We want to help authors get their books published! This is the "We're your friend. We only want to help." ploy. Publishing is a business, pure and simple. A traditional publisher wants to make money from the sale of your book. They want a strong working relationship between equals -- you as the writer, and them as the producer. They don't want to be your friend, and you shouldn't want them to be.

3. Get your writing noticed! Of course you want to get your writing noticed. Duh! It's why you went looking for a publisher. This is a sales pitch, pure and simple. Again, good publishers don't need to advertise.

4. Every manuscript receives quality editing! Does it seem strange to you that a book publisher would even think to mention this? It should. Traditional publishers have a full staff of editors, who handle different things within a manuscript, as stated below in Article 1. So, if a publisher says this in their sales pitch, consider it a warning sign. Watch for terms such as "manuscripts requiring substantial mechanical or line editing will be rejected." Line editing is the primary form of editing that exists. It means that the editor is actually going to read the book and make changes to the plot, characters, timeline and language. Without that, you might as well take the book down to Kinkos to print. Also phrases such as, "Our editors will evaluate your manuscript. If it is accepted, you will receive a short, complimentary synopsis and recommendation." What the heck is a short synopsis and recommendation? That doesn't sound like editing to me, and it shouldn't to you either. Here's a good one: "Our editors will carefully copyedit your manuscript for typographical, punctuation, and grammatical errors." That sounds a lot like running Spell Check and Grammar check in MSWord. Big deal. You can do that yourself for free.

5. We're looking for authors who want to actively participate in the publishing process! You bet they are! You'll be participating with your wallet, just so you know. Other phrases along this same line are: "We expect the author to actively promote the book," "The author will be a joint venturer in the process," "We know you'll want to offer a good faith investment in your own future." Yes, most of the traditional publishers also expect you to provide a marketing plan of your thoughts on selling your book. But they're optional! That is the primary difference. The publisher will be providing the money to print the book. They will be sending it to catalogues and distributors and the like. They will be marketing it, along with many other books, to the general public. But they hope that you will want to help to sell it too. That's a good thing and to the benefit of your book. But a vanity publisher will require your financial contribution. They may write the contract so you MUST buy copies of your own book to sell. They may write it so you MUST pre-sell a certain number of the books prior to publication. They may claim that they need a "contribution to the cost of publication" that is refundable under certain conditions (usually crafted so they'll almost never be fulfilled." Once again, remember the golden rule -- GOLD FLOWS TO THE AUTHOR, NOT AWAY FROM THE AUTHOR!

6. There are many vanity presses but...! Of course, nobody will admit to being a vanity press, so they'll busily point the finger at others of their same ilk and tell you all the reasons why they are different. If you see the words "we're not", be wary.

7. Big New York publishers may only publish one or two authors a year! Pfft! This is hardly even worth disputing, but just so you know, traditional publishers accept manuscripts from hundreds and hundreds of authors a year. Admittedly, many publishing houses are requiring agented submissions and this is hard on an author. But much of the reason is quality. Publishers acknowledge that agents make their living from selling books. So, if an agent has accepted the book, there's a better than average chance that the book is close to the quality required to publish. Don't be discouraged. There are still plenty of good, traditional publishers seeking unsolicited manuscripts. Look to Writer's Digest magazine, The Writer magazine, the book called Writer's Market along with a wide variety of web-based author help sites to find good quality publishers.

Above all -- don't get discouraged! That's the mindset that will allow vanity publishers the power to stroke your ego, and stroke the money right out of your wallet!


Hope these help to answer you questions. Also, the sites that Kiva gives provide excellent information.