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Lilybiz
02-03-2006, 10:19 PM
I posted this in Bewares, but thought it might also be useful here. I'm not an expert, but a couple of experts have posted responses to the thread there.

I was ordering Maestrowork's novel at my local (large) independent bookstore and happened to see a note taped near the register that said "Don't order from these publishers." From my perspective it was upside down so couldn't get them all, but three of them were Xlibris, iUniverse and 1st Books. I asked the clerk what would get a publisher on this list and she said they were usually POD or vanity publishers, and the store wouldn't order from them because they don't take returns or they're difficult to deal with.

Just a heads up on these publishers from one store. If it's their experience, it might be the same in other places, too.

maestrowork
02-03-2006, 10:29 PM
I replied in the other thread, but here it is again:

All the book stores I talked to were only interested in three things: 1) Are the books returnable? 2) Is there a good discount (they expect at least 40%)? 3) Is it avialable through distributors/wholesalers like Ingram? If you can answer "yes" to all three questions, they would definitely consider it. If not, good luck.

yeyeman9
02-04-2006, 04:18 AM
1st books is AuthourHouse isint it?

veinglory
02-04-2006, 09:16 PM
i would hope that, by now, writers were fully aware that mainstream books stores will not carry most self-pubishing companies. If you look around you can find 'sleath' PODs the stores don't know about yet but on the whole it just aint gonna happen.

Lilybiz
02-04-2006, 09:25 PM
1st books is AuthourHouse isint it?

I'm not knowledgeable enough to answer this with any certainty, but I did some googling and it doesn't look to me like they're related.

Lilybiz
02-04-2006, 09:27 PM
i would hope that, by now, writers were fully aware that mainstream books stores will not carry most self-pubishing companies. If you look around you can find 'sleath' PODs the stores don't know about yet but on the whole it just aint gonna happen.

You're probably right, veinglory. At least on the AW Water Cooler, most people know better. Preaching to the choir, as they say.

veinglory
02-04-2006, 09:48 PM
There may be some people lurking at the back who need a reminder ;)

Perhaps it's time for thread on 'how to get you POD distibuted at a reasonable cover price'?

mreddin
02-05-2006, 03:09 AM
There may be some people lurking at the back who need a reminder ;)

Perhaps it's time for thread on 'how to get you POD distibuted at a reasonable cover price'?

My first thought would be by working with Lightning Source directly. Companies like LuLu place fairly high markup on each copy sold, skip the middleman and set up your own company.

Hypothetically, let's say you have a 200 page book. If someone using Ingram purchases the book, this is the cost breakdown.

Lightning Source: $3.50
LuLu: $8.53

Now your upfront capital costs are more expensive. You will need to pay a setup charge with LSI, which runs around $50 to $100 I believe. The largest expense would be buying a block of ISBN numbers from Bowkers. I believe that charge is $225 for a block of 10.

Let's set your 200 page trade paperback to $12.95 with a 55% wholesale discount. When a wholesaler buys from Lightning Source, there is no shipping fee. Next, deduct the actual LSI cost to print the book, and we come to $2.32.

I might also point out that you can enable returns of the book, without paying the "insurance fees" some POD companies charge you. The caveat is that you, as the publisher, receive any returned books.

Now, is $2.32 profit of cash flow per book going to be enough to make it worth your while? You could tweak the retail price up a bit, at the expense of potential sales.

Keep in mind, none of the above gets into the cost of editing, cover design and other important capital costs involved with producing a book for retail sale. You also still need to get your book into the wholesaler's database. I think Lightning Source offers some assistance in this area.

Mike

Mike Coombes
02-06-2006, 11:30 AM
Perhaps it's time for thread on 'how to get you POD distibuted at a reasonable cover price'?

Wouldn't a thread on 'How to avoid the pitfalls of POD by getting an agent and publishing the traditional way' be more pertinent? Or 'How to write well enough so POD isn't your only option?'

veinglory
02-06-2006, 09:33 PM
In this sub-forum? No, I don't.

icerose
02-14-2006, 05:34 AM
YES,

First books became Author house.

citymouse
03-25-2006, 12:36 AM
I am an Author House customer and yes, AH was 1st Books. They changed the name about two years ago.

The three conditions that usually strike a POD out of the brick and mortar stores are sopt on although, the two mentioned above are distributed through Ingram. The short discount is the real killer with the non-returnable issue right behind. iUniverse gives a stingy 15% through Ingram while Author House offers 35%. That seems mighty close to 40% and the hook AH uses is to say that authors can advise bookstores to simply bump up the list price to make up the 5% difference and the obstacle is removed. Sounds great, eh? Well, as it's told to me by my friendly bookstore owner, here's the catch. With few exceptions bookstores now have their own on-line catalouges which are almost always partnered with the two biggies--AMZ and B&N. The list prices for books from POD companies is of course listed in these catalogues. Bookstores aren't going to increase an in-house book from Author House when it's offered at a lower price in very their own catalogue; difficult ot aruge in the face of that logic. So as the bard would say, "..therein lies the rub."

There are ways around this. I know of a POD customer who sent her book directly to the B&N corporate headquarters. Someone there looked at her book; deemed it "Okay" and removed the POD I.D. and zoom on to the shelves it went. Don't ask me how many issues the author agreed to buy back because I don't know but my guess is, as a trade paperback book, it was probably fewer than 50.
POD is not easy. If one is content with only on-line catalogue sales it's an okay route.

Peekay
05-11-2006, 09:32 PM
Wouldn't a thread on 'How to avoid the pitfalls of POD by getting an agent and publishing the traditional way' be more pertinent? Or 'How to write well enough so POD isn't your only option?'


We really should dispel this myth that the sanctification of acceptance by money grubbing publishers assures quality. Ghost written biographies of soap stars and Teen Techno thrillers are not quality products.
Publishing anything that you expect to turn a quick buck out of is neither virtuous or a sainted seal of quality. How could it be? These people will publish anything they smell money around.
At least self publishers and PODs are done from love.

veinglory
05-11-2006, 09:43 PM
I am not sure that countering anti-POD bias with pro-POD bias gets us to the right place. Generally sticking to the specifics allows each person to decide where best to publish their manuscript.

maestrowork
05-11-2006, 11:33 PM
At least self publishers and PODs are done from love.

POD/Vanity are never done from love. Try to ask them to waive their fees and hold your hands after the book is printed.

Just try.


And to say traditional houses only care about money... sounds a bit like sour grapes to me.

james1611
05-12-2006, 12:18 AM
Maybe the "love" reference refers to those individuals who use P.O.D. as a technology for printing their own work and distributing it themselves online through P.O.D as some have to limited success...but as maestro said... the vanity publishers are not doing it for anything but profit by selling books to the authors.

As for big publishers...obviously it is a money issue, since they must put money into a manuscript, they are wanting to make money on the other end...thats why publishing is a business...ie to make money.

One of the best pieces of advice i've seen on this board, other than "write the best novel you can"...is to "start at the top and work your way down".

Personally I could go P.O.D. right now, with a nice cover by a professional graphic artist who happened to live outside the U.S. and did excellent work for me pro-bono, but I would be limiting myself...So I want P.O.D. efforts to be the last resort, not the first...

Only after exhausting every other option would I go with the P.O.D. on Amazon.com route...its a decent option, last resort, better than nothing I suppose, but I would definitely never pay thousands of dollars to set up printing and other things I could easily do cheaper myself.

P.O.D. technology is nice, but it seems the bottom rung is about as far as it will get you...keep plugging at publishers and agents and if all else fails at least you can get on the bottom rung anytime you want without a big investment...and probably without a BIG RETURN EITHER.

Rev. James

Mike Coombes
05-17-2006, 12:05 PM
At least self publishers and PODs are done from love.

As are many murders, and I wouldn't advocate either.

PVish
05-19-2006, 09:34 PM
Wouldn't a thread on 'How to avoid the pitfalls of POD by getting an agent and publishing the traditional way' be more pertinent? Or 'How to write well enough so POD isn't your only option?'

For a publisher to consider buying writer's work, the book must be both well-written AND marketable. If a title is for a tiny niche readership, a commercial publisher will not be interested. Hence, POD works for certain circumstances.

POD isn't a good choice for an author who writes what he hopes will be a blockbuster novel; it is sometimes a good choice for an author who aims at a narrow (and usually local) readership.

Now a thread on "Is your work suitable for POD" might be a possible thread. . . .

Lance_in_Shanghai
10-02-2006, 09:54 AM
What about a sub-forum on "Self-Printing"? That means buying the ISBNs, contacting a book printer, arranging the layout and design and off you go. This is the most costly initial setup but the price per book is lower. There is no warehouse or promotional help so you need a pickup truck, a huge garage and at least 500 faithful friends who will buy the book. Or perhaps only 498 friends. You'll keep a copy for yourself and send one to Oprah. That should do it nicely.

JennaGlatzer
10-02-2006, 10:21 AM
Hi Lance,

Yep, we have a sub-board for that. Go back here: http://www.absolutewrite.com/forums/forumdisplay.php?f=47 and look near the top. "Conventional Self-Publishing." That's what it means. :)

GHF65
10-03-2006, 08:39 PM
iUniverse gives a stingy 15% through Ingram while Author House offers 35%. That seems mighty close to 40% and the hook AH uses is to say that authors can advise bookstores to simply bump up the list price to make up the 5% difference and the obstacle is removed. Sounds great, eh?

For the record--and a caveat to anyone who's thinking of going with them--iUniverse lets the author decide (within parameters) what discount will be offered. Most of us go with the maximum royalty, which means minimum discount to booksellers. That's what I did. But not one bookseller asked me what the discount was, and I offered to buy the books, sell them to the reseller at my cost (which is a 40% discount) and take only $2.00 per book on consignment. They still weren't interested. This goes beyond the basic POD dilemma. The companies have such a bad name that many resellers won't even discuss carrying their product.

huw
10-04-2006, 01:08 AM
For the record--and a caveat to anyone who's thinking of going with them--iUniverse lets the author decide (within parameters) what discount will be offered. Most of us go with the maximum royalty, which means minimum discount to booksellers. That's what I did. But not one bookseller asked me what the discount was, and I offered to buy the books, sell them to the reseller at my cost (which is a 40% discount) and take only $2.00 per book on consignment. They still weren't interested. This goes beyond the basic POD dilemma. The companies have such a bad name that many resellers won't even discuss carrying their product.

Interesting. The minimum discount for Amazon is (if I recall correctly) 25%. I don't know if this would also be acceptable to B&N online, but Amazon is by far the more important online market.

For bookshop orders, you need to provide a little more fat--25% will simply not interest a bookseller (the wholesaler takes a bite out of the discount too). Conversely, if the publisher has been "blacklisted" or if the author have no realistic expectation of bookshop orders, then I would say set the lowest discount possible.

Lulu's Global Distribution package (50% fixed discount) is interesting when examined in this light. I imagine they want to be able to say "your book will be orderable in any bookstore in the country" and that the 50% discount is intended to underpin that. I wonder if it does.

acousticgroupie
10-04-2006, 06:15 AM
first, i really think it's smart to choose your words. pod isn't for bad writers. maybe POD authors are fed up with the tiny window that publishers give us. i got impatient and went with self-publishing. i don't have time to wait on them to tell me my book is good.

so far it's going good. i'm getting tons of press and my book isn't out for another two months. so we'll see:)

yes, these are the downsides to self-publishing in general...

J.S Greer
12-04-2006, 10:11 AM
first, i really think it's smart to choose your words. pod isn't for bad writers. maybe POD authors are fed up with the tiny window that publishers give us. i got impatient and went with self-publishing. i don't have time to wait on them to tell me my book is good.


There are exceptions to every rule. That said, everyone who ive come across that self publishes has the same argument.

"Im good, and I didnt want to wait." Ok, maybe they are good. Ive yet to see proof of that, but its not outside of the realm of possibility.

The "Tiny window" is tiny because of the lack of quality submissions. So many factors go into an agent/publisher wanting to take on a manuscript.

I mean no offense to anyone who has or will be self publishing. I just have yet to see a self published work that is as good as the writers of them claim.

If youre a good enough writer, have a story that needs to be told, have a market for your type of story, work hard and dont give up, someone will take a look at you.

If not, then self publish.

This is not aimed at you groupie, so dont take offense. They are just my general experiences and feelings.

Athosmr
12-16-2006, 09:12 PM
How can you be sure that your work is good enough to publish conventionally if agents & conventional publishers don't even look at your work? Sure, you can have friends & family read the book, but they're going to tell you it's good. I've finished one manuscript & have been told I need to adjust my comma usage, but that's it. However, it's a young adult novel, and from what I've heard, conventional publishers ARE looking for that genre.

veinglory
12-16-2006, 09:57 PM
If you choose appropriate agents and pulishers they will look at your work, not quickly or necessarily for very long, but they will look. Before sending you can make some contacts online and get one-to-one advice from peole who know your genre.

ResearchGuy
12-16-2006, 10:29 PM
How can you be sure that your work is good enough to publish conventionally if agents & conventional publishers don't even look at your work? Sure, you can have friends & family read the book, but they're going to tell you it's good. I've finished one manuscript & have been told I need to adjust my comma usage, but that's it. However, it's a young adult novel, and from what I've heard, conventional publishers ARE looking for that genre.
The problem might be in your query letter or book proposal. Those have to be very well crafted.

Publishers like series -- does your manuscript have strong, appealing characters that can support a series? Can you WRITE additional books for a series?

You might want to consider asking some folks you do not know --specifically, some school librarians who work with YAs -- to read and comment on the manuscript. I would also recommend that you have some actual YAs read and comment -- for them you might need to offer an incentive (cash or a McDonald's gift card or the like) to do so. For that matter, the librarians would probably not object to a Starbucks gift card, say, as an incentive or thank-you.

FWIW, I have been working with a manuscript (not mine -- written by someone I met at a writers group meeting last year). After I reformatted the manuscript and did some copyediting, I had some copies printed and spiral bound and had some folks read it. Their rave reviews (including comments by a couple of nationally prominent writers/scholars) proved to my complete satisfaction that the manuscript was indeed the real deal, that it was not just my opinion. (The manuscript is now signed to an advance-paying contract and en route to commercial small-press publication.)

Perhaps some of these comments will be useful.

Good luck with your endeavors.

--Ken

ResearchGuy
12-16-2006, 10:36 PM
If you choose appropriate agents and pulishers they will look at your work....
They might look at a query, but there is no value in sending an unsolicited manuscript. Even a full-scale book proposal might be excessive. Query comes first. Many publishers will not touch anything that does not come from an agent -- at least they state so in public. But with luck maybe a very well done query can overcome that prohibition. If the publisher's interest is piqued and acquisitions editor ask for a proposal or manuscript, then it is not a matter of an unsolicited proposal or manuscript; the editor solicited it.

--Ken

veinglory
12-17-2006, 12:15 AM
I put the query under 'choosing appropriately'. It is basically a standardised letter saying 'I have one of those things you are looking for'.

acousticgroupie
02-07-2007, 04:16 AM
it's not a matter of good or bad, too. it's what publishers are looking for. many didn't think mine would be able to reach enough people but thought the manuscript and proposal were stellar.

snook
02-14-2007, 07:37 AM
You guys are funny. If it's good, it will sell, POD or traditional. The only difference is the marketing. If you go POD and don't market well, you are peeing into the wind. There is lot's of crap being published through POD and traditional venues as well as very good work.

James D. Macdonald
02-14-2007, 08:02 AM
Being good is necessary, but not sufficient. Distribution is important too. When you consider that the POD business model is incompatible with bookstore shelving, and that most book sales (not counting textbooks, reference books, academic books, book club books, and so forth) are through bookstores... well, POD has some hurdles ahead of it that commercial publication has already managed to clear.

You should only consider non-traditional publication modes if you have non-traditional distribution already in place.

Chumplet
02-14-2007, 08:40 AM
Not all POD is self-published, right?

ResearchGuy
02-14-2007, 09:26 AM
Not all POD is self-published, right?
No standard commercial publisher can afford to use POD. (There might be a very few partial exceptions, just to make a few copies of a backlist title available.)

However, there are probably some books that are published POD by very small publishers that are not also the authors. I am looking at doing that for a manuscript with a small (a few hundred?) but interested audience. It is simply not going to have a chance with a commercial publisher (too long a manuscript and too narrow a likely audience, despite being a serious and worthwhile piece of work). The author does not have the skills or time to self-publish (via POD or any other means), and I have already done the editing, formatting, and book design anyway. Other than final-final edits and proofing and final cover design, it is ready to go if the author is satisfied with the publishing agreement. POD should work adequately for the purpose, and is a feasible option. Non-POD self-publishing would require far too much expense up front and too much risk to be feasible. In this case, better the half-loaf of POD than none. The nature of the audience does not require that copies be found in places like B&N. There are other, better focused, channels.

//Update: The author uncompromisingly rejected the agreement I had proposed. He will now find out the hard way what I had tried to spare him from, that no legitimate agent will be interested in taking on, and no commercial publisher will be receptive to publishing, a 200,000-word memoir of a few years a generation ago in a far-away place. With a potential for book sales of 500 or fewer copies (and that may be quite optimistic), the manuscript will gather dust. Alas, commercial publishers and literary agents do not care about the 15 years of his life that went into writing the manuscript. They care only about whether it could be published profitably. As he lacks Internet access and skills, he is not even a candidate for PublishAmerica. The costs of subsidy and vanity publishers would almost certainly be prohibitive -- not to mention that their contracts are not even remotely going to approach the generous terms I had outlined, including that the author retain ALL subsidiary rights and receive 60% of the net on sales.//

--Ken

James D. Macdonald
02-14-2007, 11:21 PM
Some places (ex. museum stores doing catalog sales of art prints) use the Print on Demand model with great success. (Note: Print on Demand does not equal digital printing.)

Some publishers (for example Wildside) used Digital Printing for very short runs.

At the moment Print On Demand (the business model) exists in the boundary zones and the special cases.