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View Full Version : Print on Demand: Getting Facts Straight



euphrosene
02-15-2007, 09:35 PM
This is a wonderfully friendly forum, so it is a pity there is both an element of snobbishness as well as ignorance over both Print on Demand technology and what self-publishing actually is.

For example, I have just read these comments:

-We don't think POD is a dirty word, but we think it's generally a bad idea for writers who want to sell books to strangers….

-In general, bookstores WILL NOT STOCK self-published/vanity-published books because (a) there's no market for them, (b) they're overpriced, (c) there's no returns policy, (d) there's no quality control, (e) the covers are not professional, (f) there's no publisher backing them with a publicity campaign, etc.

-… what that ACTUALLY means is that someone can walk up to a desk and place a special order for the book and come back 2 weeks later and pick it up, but that the book will *not* be on bookstore shelves, no matter how well-written it is. The only people who do place special orders of POD books are generally the writer's Aunt Gertrude and best friend from high school.

-…Commercial publishing is when a publisher pays you to publish your book. Self publishing is when you pay the publisher to publish your book.

If negative comments are going to be made, at least get the facts straight!!!

Firstly, self-publishing is NOT the same as vanity publishing. With vanity publishing, you sign a contract and pay a publisher of some description (not recommended).

However, with self-publishing, using a PoD supplier, YOU effectively become the publisher.

That *does* mean you have to take control of all the elements that a conventional publisher promises to do… which includes stocking shelves, if you choose to go that route, marketing and so forth. That is why it is called SELF-publishing.

BUT… with the right mechanisms in place, an order can be fulfilled within 72 hours.

I *know* because I have sold quite a few books this way.

AND, please note, even conventional publishers use PoD technology, because not all you conventionally published authors sell that many copies either!

I can think of at least four high profile names here in the UK who did not each even manage to sell 600 copies of their book.

No conventional publisher with any business acumen is going to commit to several thousand copies to stock everywhere if hardly any are going to be sold.

PoD tech is wonderful for allowing them to ‘suck it and see’.

A decent PoD supplier is, in essence, a printer with a particular piece of non-litho technology which can handle covers and content and has a very quick turnaround.

Self-publishing, to repeat myself, is when you, the author, contract them directly to print it. YOU are the publisher.

btw PoD tech will allow virtually any rubbishy covers to look good. However, there are so many low-cost designers around, this too should not be an issue.

What is an issue is having your books on every bookshelf everywhere. But I can think of a few conventionally produced authors in this forum who are not even listed on amazon.co.uk let alone our bookshelves in the UK!

Please note, distribution is a problem if you have only the one title. At least try and get it on amazon and accept the costs as part of your marketing push.

If you are that sure of your book, you can price it as you wish. Volume sales will either bring in good returns or a conventional publisher to buy the rights.

Once you have at least five titles, there are organisations like Gardners of Eastbourne (I am sure there are US and RoW equivalents) who will distribute and handle returns and so forth.

Thankfully, I have sold quite a few though not enough to feel proud or flush! But I have never had a return … and the overwhelming majority have all been sold to ‘strangers’. Friends and family tend to want copies for nothing!

Authors of every description had better get used to this form of technology because, soon enough, even titles brought out by conventional publishers will be bought from booths at stations and malls.

That will then put self-publishers and conventional publishers on a very even footing.

Even wise book shops will probably have their own book booths (or whatever they are going to be called).

For a start, it will cut down on unnecessary hard stock, while actually INCREASING overall stock and choice, since the technology will be able to hold considerably MORE electronic versions, all waiting to be printed out ‘on demand’.

Secondly, it will reduce the wastage from people browsing but never buying. Buyers will be tempted into shops through alternative methods... a topic for a separate thread.

There is more I could write on this but this should help to redress the balance.

And, yes, I have written a book on self-publishing and will be happy to email a pdf to anyone who emails me at euphrosene at floreo dot org.

btw I am an evangelist for lazy learning too! The little books have all been specifically designed to be ultra discreet and to cut out any extraneous text.

ResearchGuy
02-15-2007, 09:52 PM
This is a wonderfully friendly forum, so it is a pity there is both an element of snobbishness as well as ignorance over both Print on Demand technology and what self-publishing actually is.

. . .
<clap clap clap>

I've emailed you.

--Ken

FergieC
02-16-2007, 12:43 AM
I can think of at least four high profile names here in the UK who did not each even manage to sell 600 copies of their book.

I think this is what a lot of people on here miss in the discussion about what route is best for a new writer to go.

The stark, basic fact is that, however you're published, most new writers do not sell a lot of books and don't make enough money to live from writing, certainly not from a first novel.

If you're determined to hold out for a killer deal with a large advance, huge marketing budget and guaranteed bookshop presence immediately, you could end up waiting forever. Small publishers, self-publishing, POD, schemes like MacMillan's New Writing without advances or marketing are all options that are on the table, and shouldn't be discounted out of hand. Also, technology is changing and will continue to do so.

The average amount a writer in Scotland makes from writing (and I'm assuming JK Rowling and Alexander McCall Smith are factored into the average) is about £4000. That means the vast majority are not selling a lot of books. So yes, POD will become more and more the norm for new writers, I think. It makes more sense for publishers to go that route.

And as for readers, they appear to be leaving bookshops in droves. Since Waterstones took over the only competition in my city, readers are incredibly frustrated and turning to the internet much more. Sites like thelibrarything are brilliant, because you can find books you really want to read, even if they're not in British bookshops and you wouldn't otherwise have heard of them. Compared to the 3 for 2 tables with all the same titles you've already read if you wanted to, it's liberating...

LloydBrown
02-16-2007, 01:41 AM
I'm having a little trouble reconciling this statement
...I have sold quite a few books this way. with this one


Thankfully, I have sold ...not enough to feel proud or flush!

Are you certain enough of your point to share exactly how many books of a single title you've sold? It's amazing how much stronger your argument becomes when you support it with detail.


AND, please note, even conventional publishers use PoD technology, because not all you conventionally published authors sell that many copies either! "Conventional" publishers primarily use POD for ARCs and to keep backlist titles available after the last cost-effective print run is done. If you're going to sell 5,000 copies of something, POD makes no sense. If you're not going to sell 5,000 copies, what's the point?

ResearchGuy
02-16-2007, 02:49 AM
. . . And as for readers, they appear to be leaving bookshops in droves. . . . Compared to the 3 for 2 tables with all the same titles you've already read if you wanted to, it's liberating...
You could not tell that by my local Barnes & Noble -- lots of customers and about 10,000 square feet with a vast and continuously updated selection.

--Ken

Toothpaste
02-16-2007, 03:51 AM
I am only responding to the initial claim that the people here do not understand that POD is different from Vanity. I'm sorry that you ran into a few threads that seemed to say so, but I have read many an other thread about legitimate uses for PODs. I would think the fact that there is an entire section on the forum designed to discuss POD would be enough proof for that. Most people here know that POD is the technology, not the publisher. And I think most everyone here admits there are genuinely good times to use POD. Have you read this whole section? Because while occasionally a debate may ensue (and really, what's wrong with debate), most of this section is devoted for helping other POD people with producing and marketing their work.

snook
02-16-2007, 05:52 AM
My book is already at 20+ stores IN STOCK. These screen prints are from Bookfinder4u.com, other book search engines show even more IN STOCK at other stores. I do my POD at LULU, I own my ISBN and all rights also. Oh, it's IN STOCK at Amazon and Barnes & Noble also:

http://users.adelphia.net/~63savoy/BFFU_1.JPG
http://users.adelphia.net/~63savoy/BFFU_2.JPG
http://users.adelphia.net/~63savoy/BFFU_3.JPG
http://users.adelphia.net/~63savoy/BFFU_4.JPG

veinglory
02-16-2007, 05:57 AM
I'm sorry. Did anyone deny for a moment that you can sell POD books from the chain bookstores websites?

snook
02-16-2007, 06:01 AM
Nope, just an example that POD can be far away from vanity stigma. I'll be stocking local indies and chain brick and mortars in the next month. It is what you make it. Just an example. When I get my next months sales statement, I'll post it for the sake of disclosure.

veinglory
02-16-2007, 06:04 AM
I'm just not sure what it is an example off. Vanity books (one's people pay $1000s in advance for) are available on those same sites).

The myth is that you can't get a POD shelved, the truth as mentioned is that if you know what you are about--you can. but you do need to know what you are about rather than go buying a standard package.

snook
02-16-2007, 06:08 AM
Yep, just buying a package ain't a gonna get it. You have to network and hoof it. I have a day job thank goodness, this is more of an experiment to me. Interesting so far and highly exasperating but very educational.

Mac H.
02-16-2007, 07:57 AM
My book is already at 20+ stores IN STOCK. These screen prints are from Bookfinder4u.com, other book search engines show even more IN STOCK at other stores. I do my POD at LULU, I own my ISBN and all rights also. Oh, it's IN STOCK at Amazon and Barnes & Noble alsoCongratulations - it looks like a nice book.

Remember that the 'OD' part of 'POD' means ON DEMAND.

That means that there is no stock. The book isn't printed until someone orders it. That's the whole beauty of the business model !

To cope with this new concept, though, the book search engines simply list POD books as being 'in stock' even though they don't physically have any copies in stock. A pedant would point out that they should change their label to 'Available' instead of 'In Stock', but the customer doesn't really care about the technicallity.

Everyone already agrees that POD books are available in online stores !!!

If you want to physically stock the books into bricks and mortor stores, it might be worth doing an offset printing run instead of POD.

This print cost estimator (http://www.authorslawyer.com/l-print0.shtml#estimator) is interesting.

Good luck !

Mac

euphrosene
02-16-2007, 12:17 PM
I'm having a little trouble reconciling this statement with this one[/font]

[/font]

Are you certain enough of your point to share exactly how many books of a single title you've sold? It's amazing how much stronger your argument becomes when you support it with detail.

"Conventional" publishers primarily use POD for ARCs and to keep backlist titles available after the last cost-effective print run is done. If you're going to sell 5,000 copies of something, POD makes no sense. If you're not going to sell 5,000 copies, what's the point?

Assuming you make £1 or $1 per copy would YOU be proud or even flush at earning £5000/$5000?

You can sell copies without actually making a whole lot of money... and even publishers do not always hand out massive advances. Certainly not enough to live on for long.

Maybe earning huge sums as an IT salesperson has raised my expectations too much!

euphrosene
02-16-2007, 12:53 PM
I do not think bookshops will go out of business but I do think the browsing experience will change–and for the better—for all parties involved in the process.

Here are some interesting comments you might enjoy:

http://hereticallibrarian.blogspot.com/2006/10/pod-revolution.html (http://hereticallibrarian.blogspot.com/2006/10/pod-revolution.html)

http://blog.susan-hill.com/blog/_archives/2006/10/16/2421590.html (http://blog.susan-hill.com/blog/_archives/2006/10/16/2421590.html)

http://www.bryanappleyard.com/blog/2006/10/pods-blogs-and-books.php (http://www.bryanappleyard.com/blog/2006/10/pods-blogs-and-books.php)

http://copywriter.typepad.com/copywriter/2006/06/print_on_demand.html (http://copywriter.typepad.com/copywriter/2006/06/print_on_demand.html)


Re the various posts here, yes, I have read some of them. And very informative they are too. Many thanks.

I was responding to specific comments, plus the one or two posters who come across as rather patronising. Surely the key is to be open to all ideas and methods, if the desire is that strong?

snook
02-16-2007, 02:14 PM
Mac H. that is a good suggestion, we'll see how the online sales go first month, might not be enough interest to justify a 500 print run though. Also, if the book isn't in stock how can they state that the book ships in 1 day?

maestrowork
02-16-2007, 05:26 PM
My book is already at 20+ stores IN STOCK. These screen prints are from Bookfinder4u.com, other book search engines show even more IN STOCK at other stores. I do my POD at LULU, I own my ISBN and all rights also. Oh, it's IN STOCK at Amazon and Barnes & Noble also

These are all online stores. There's no inventory and return policy requirements. Anyone with an ISBN can list with them. We're talking about actual, physical store shelves. Places where people can actually go, look, browse, and pick up the book.

As for the OP -- read the threads again. We know the difference between POD (the technology) versus the business model. The problem is always distribution and getting onto store shelves. As for UK market -- do you realize many people here are from the US? Do you realize they may have only sold their N. America right? Why would their book be available in the UK? (But mine is.)

maestrowork
02-16-2007, 05:29 PM
Nope, just an example that POD can be far away from vanity stigma. I'll be stocking local indies and chain brick and mortars in the next month. It is what you make it. Just an example. When I get my next months sales statement, I'll post it for the sake of disclosure.

You can list vanity books on Amazon or BN.com.

Local indies will stock vanity books if you ask -- sometimes on consignment.

Local chains will stock self-pub books if you offer them standard discounts and returns. It's the lack of regional or national distribution that is the problem. I really do doubt that they stock your Lulu book. Can you substantiate your claim?

Again, no one is equating POD (technology) with business models.

maestrowork
02-16-2007, 05:33 PM
Mac H. that is a good suggestion, we'll see how the online sales go first month, might not be enough interest to justify a 500 print run though. Also, if the book isn't in stock how can they state that the book ships in 1 day?

The store (amazon, etc.) may not stock it themselves. They order from wholesalers like Ingram, which may stock the book in small quantities and order more on demand. If the demand exceeds their inventory, you are not going to see the book for days.

euphrosene
02-16-2007, 07:20 PM
These are all online stores. There's no inventory and return policy requirements. Anyone with an ISBN can list with them. We're talking about actual, physical store shelves. Places where people can actually go, look, browse, and pick up the book.

As for the OP -- read the threads again. We know the difference between POD (the technology) versus the business model. The problem is always distribution and getting onto store shelves. As for UK market -- do you realize many people here are from the US? Do you realize they may have only sold their N. America right? Why would their book be available in the UK? (But mine is.)


Message from 'OP' to a modest 'maestro'... read my original post and you will see it refers to particular comments (included). Here in the UK, we have an expression - RTFD.

For the record, I am perfectly aware of what I wrote and what I meant, so please do not be so patronising. If you doubt that you are, read again what you wrote...

LloydBrown
02-16-2007, 07:20 PM
Assuming you make £1 or $1 per copy would YOU be proud or even flush at earning £5000/$5000?

You can sell copies without actually making a whole lot of money... and even publishers do not always hand out massive advances. Certainly not enough to live on for long.

Maybe earning huge sums as an IT salesperson has raised my expectations too much!

So I'm gathering the answer would be "No", that you can't actually support your statement with a number of books that you've sold. Strangely, I knew that was coming.

euphrosene
02-16-2007, 07:24 PM
So I'm gathering the answer would be "No", that you can't actually support your statement with a number of books that you've sold. Strangely, I knew that was coming.

What is wrong with you???

I was answering a specific point that 'strangers' buy PoD books.

I do not think at ANY point I said that you will get a massive best seller.

Good grief. I just hope your books are not so damned opaque. And if that is rude... well sorry. But I have a sick mother right now, and clever dick replies I need like a hole in the head.

Ciao.

veinglory
02-16-2007, 07:25 PM
Actually there *are* print on demand books stocked in brick and mortar stores, some of them nation wide. What it takes is discount + returns, printing a short run with someone like lightning source and sweet taking a few acquisitions staff.

A POD book is not a shoe in for shelving--in fact it is a difficult task-- but companies like Samhain are getting it done.

LloydBrown
02-16-2007, 07:26 PM
My book is already at 20+ stores IN STOCK. These screen prints are from Bookfinder4u.com, other book search engines show even more IN STOCK at other stores. I do my POD at LULU, I own my ISBN and all rights also. Oh, it's IN STOCK at Amazon and Barnes & Noble also:

Yes, Amazon automatically lists all books with ISBNs unless you request otherwise. However so-called publishers like Publish America list you with all of those online resources, too, and they sell an average of 75 copies per title--most of those TO the author. The online sites combined sell maybe 30-40 copies for you worldwide.

Here's how it really works: online sales mirror physical sales. If your book sells well, its Amazon ranking improves. If it has few or no sales directly, and through bookstores, it probably has an Amazon ranking in the 2 million range. It would be extremely unusual for a book to sell well and not reflect that popularity through its online sales (nearly all of which is from Amazon).

LloydBrown
02-16-2007, 07:35 PM
I was answering a specific point that 'strangers' buy PoD books.

Why would you do that in a post to me, when it's not related to the comments I made or the questions I asked?


I do not think at ANY point I said that you will get a massive best seller.

That makes two of us. 5,000 copies is not a massive best-seller. It's a bare minimum to be successful commercially in many markets, and some publishers have higher break-even points.

My point is this: if you've sold 10 or 20 books, few people would consider you an authority on how publishing works. Since you're pretty much wrong with every post (when you do stay on topic), I'm assuming that the number you won't mention is not, in fact, very high.

veinglory
02-16-2007, 07:38 PM
There is a pretty wide taboo on mentioning sales figures. I can say I know why--I drag mine out every time the ol' epublishing discussion comes up. Let people judge for themselves.

Mae
02-16-2007, 07:55 PM
I am giving my two cents because I am irritated. Congrats. You sucked me in.

As a reader, I have never bought a POD book.
As a writer, I will never go POD.

POD enthusiast/seller/what ever the heck you are in real life: starting threads in an attempt to convert newcomers ( experienced ones already know better.) is mundane. Boring. And won't work.

That's it. Go ahead and fling a couple insults my way if you want to. I won't be checking this thread or any related threads anymore. So have at it!

Toothpaste
02-16-2007, 08:09 PM
I'm sorry euphrosene that I might have offended you in my reply, and probably I was unduly offended myself. I didn't realise you were speaking about specific members. When I read this "This is a wonderfully friendly forum, so it is a pity there is both an element of snobbishness as well as ignorance over both Print on Demand technology and what self-publishing actually is" I just had to explain why I felt this was wrong, how most of us actually do know what POD and self-publishing is. I didn't realise you didn't mean it as a generalisation.

I'm sorry.

snook
02-16-2007, 08:55 PM
I find this whole thread and the responses fascinating. Great learning platform, you see the whole spectrum. One bit of advice: Don't take anything on an internet message board personally, it's a waste of energy and people probably didn't intend to insult you. If they did intend insult, well, shame on them. :D

snook
02-16-2007, 08:57 PM
Also, I didn't find his posts to be patronizing, I consider it cheap but effective education. But I'm thick skinned as well as thick waisted, so I don't spin up easy. :D

veinglory
02-16-2007, 09:01 PM
Boy, zealots on boths sides. Why all the hate? It's a technology not a religion.

Toothpaste
02-16-2007, 10:45 PM
But I seriously don't see the hate! I've just read the original OP saying to other people not to be condesending, that's all. I don't have the hate. I really do believe that POD is a useful technology.

Ah whatever. . .

maestrowork
02-17-2007, 12:46 AM
I'm sorry euphrosene that I might have offended you in my reply, and probably I was unduly offended myself. I didn't realise you were speaking about specific members. When I read this "This is a wonderfully friendly forum, so it is a pity there is both an element of snobbishness as well as ignorance over both Print on Demand technology and what self-publishing actually is" I just had to explain why I felt this was wrong, how most of us actually do know what POD and self-publishing is. I didn't realise you didn't mean it as a generalisation.

I'm sorry.

Thank you. For a second I thought I was the one with a reading comprehension problem.

And that was why I said "WE know the difference between POD and self-publishing." Thank you for preaching to the choir.

Talia
02-23-2007, 04:40 AM
Interesting discussion

I know almost zip about POD. I know of some authors that have gone the self-publishing route and I have overseas rights to one of my books so I have been considering options for doing something myself to get it into the US (and Amazon) and then maybe buying some stock of my other book to send to the US.

I gather POD is very expensive.

Also a question on ISBN

I have ISBN for both of my books but Amazon doesn't seem to recognise them. How do I get Amazon to add my ISBN?

ResearchGuy
02-23-2007, 07:43 AM
. . . I gather POD is very expensive . . .
The per-copy price is much higher than for a standard print run of hundreds or thousands of copies, and there is no volume discount. BUT, on the other hand, that can be a very fair tradeoff for not having to spend thousands of dollars for a run of books and for not having to store the books.

Lulu.com's price is two cents per page (BW) + $4.53 for perfect bound or spiral bound books (any page dimensions). So, a 100-page perfect-bound or spiral-bound book would cost $6.53 per copy, plus shipping. A 500-page perfect-bound or spiral-bound book would cost $14.53 plus shipping. That is actually not bad in itself -- it is the margin that has to be added to make a profit, esp. if one allows a trade discount, that is the killer. Hardbounds are of course more expensive. And if the interior is printed in color, that is 15 cents per page. I believe that Lightning source offers better prices, but it might not be as convenient.

One rule of thumb for self-publishers is that retail price should be eight times the per-copy printing cost (I think that is Dan Poynter's guideline). That is definitely not going to work for POD.

Cannot help with the Amazon/ISBN question. An email or phone call to Amazon might be needed.

--Ken

Talia
02-23-2007, 02:05 PM
Thanks Ken
It gives me something to think about and I agree the costs aren't too bad when you weight it up against the risk of doing a large print run and then not selling any stock

Cathy C
02-23-2007, 08:14 PM
This is a wonderfully friendly forum, so it is a pity there is both an element of snobbishness as well as ignorance over both Print on Demand technology and what self-publishing actually is.

I don't know that I'd call it snobbishness. It's just personal opinion that each person is subject to. The issue has actually been thoroughly discussed in several forums. It seems that POD is sort of like liver and onion. You either REALLY like it, or REALLY don't. Little middle ground. But that's not snobbishness. It's merely a matter of taste.


For example, I have just read these comments:
-We don't think POD is a dirty word, but we think it's generally a bad idea for writers who want to sell books to strangers….

-In general, bookstores WILL NOT STOCK self-published/vanity-published books because (a) there's no market for them, (b) they're overpriced, (c) there's no returns policy, (d) there's no quality control, (e) the covers are not professional, (f) there's no publisher backing them with a publicity campaign, etc.

-… what that ACTUALLY means is that someone can walk up to a desk and place a special order for the book and come back 2 weeks later and pick it up, but that the book will *not* be on bookstore shelves, no matter how well-written it is. The only people who do place special orders of POD books are generally the writer's Aunt Gertrude and best friend from high school.

-…Commercial publishing is when a publisher pays you to publish your book. Self publishing is when you pay the publisher to publish your book.

If negative comments are going to be made, at least get the facts straight!!!

Of course, these are generalizations, but they often hold true. They ARE true in many instances.


Firstly, self-publishing is NOT the same as vanity publishing. With vanity publishing, you sign a contract and pay a publisher of some description (not recommended).

I agree that self-publishing is NOT the same as vanity publishing. I just wish that the subsidy publishers knew that. Go forth to Google and type in "self-publishing." Now look at the PAID links to the right. These are paid for BY the subsidy publishers, who use these key words to bring in customers. Here are some that just popped up:

Self Publish Today! Learn why more Authors choose XLibris.
Self Publish Your Book! Tate Publishing
Self Publishing with the author's best interests in mind. Cold Tree Press
Offering several different self-publishing plans. iUniverse
Avoid the stigma of paying. Be Self-Published! PublishAmerica

Etc., etc., etc. Is it any WONDER people confuse the issue?


However, with self-publishing, using a PoD supplier, YOU effectively become the publisher.

That *does* mean you have to take control of all the elements that a conventional publisher promises to do… which includes stocking shelves, if you choose to go that route, marketing and so forth. That is why it is called SELF-publishing.

No argument from me. But many aspiring authors really don't understand what that means. They want to be called "self-published" without the fuss. So, they turn to a company that purports to handle these matters through a list of paid services. But that's not self-publishing.

[FONT=Georgia]
BUT… with the right mechanisms in place, an order can be fulfilled within 72 hours.

True . . . but the trick isn't getting an individual bookstore to place a single order. The trick is getting the bookstore's BUYER to place an order large enough to stock the books in all their stores. Of course, with sufficient stock in place and available to the author, this isn't an issue.



I *know* because I have sold quite a few books this way.

Attaboy (or girl. Can't tell which from your board name.)


AND, please note, even conventional publishers use PoD technology, because not all you conventionally published authors sell that many copies either!

Depends on your definition of "not that many." Most initial print runs of mass market paperback are in the 30,000 range. Many are higher. Yes, there are returns of up to 50%, but they're on the shelf--available to buy. Without that visibility on the shelf, it's MUCH harder to snag casual shoppers.


I can think of at least four high profile names here in the UK who did not each even manage to sell 600 copies of their book.

Sorry to hear that. It's much tougher to get the next contract when one book didn't do well. I don't know much about the UK market, admittedly, so I have no idea of standard print runs there.



No conventional publisher with any business acumen is going to commit to several thousand copies to stock everywhere if hardly any are going to be sold.

Actually, that's very much what conventional publishers do. They commit to print as many as they receive orders for. That's why the people that work in marketing are so important. They push the books to distributors and wholesalers--which is how 90% of the stores in America are stocked.



PoD tech is wonderful for allowing them to ‘suck it and see’.

True, to an extent. There are several NY publishers that are starting to use PoD technology for backlist books or reviving out of print titles that are still popular, in a slow and steady manner. However, this is called Print TO Demand in the industry. In other words, they order 500 or 1,000 copies of the book (rather than an offset press run, which is usually a minimum of 2,500). But they're often still stocked and warehoused like their normal books. Only in very rare cases are they only ordering one at a time.


A decent PoD supplier is, in essence, a printer with a particular piece of non-litho technology which can handle covers and content and has a very quick turnaround.

True enough. But the quick turnaround is based on their current demand. That can be 72 hours, or 144 hours, depending on who is ahead of you.


Self-publishing, to repeat myself, is when you, the author, contract them directly to print it. YOU are the publisher.

Exactly what I've been saying for years. I applaud self-publishers. They work VERY hard to put out a product, and deserve a great deal of respect.


btw PoD tech will allow virtually any rubbishy covers to look good. However, there are so many low-cost designers around, this too should not be an issue.

Yeah, you know--we should start a sticky list in this forum of cover designers. I know quite a few really good ones in certain genres. Like anything, cover artists often specialize.


What is an issue is having your books on every bookshelf everywhere. But I can think of a few conventionally produced authors in this forum who are not even listed on amazon.co.uk let alone our bookshelves in the UK!

That might well be because the author retained British rights to the book. Not every publisher keeps World English. Some only offer North American English. Without the right to ship to the UK (or Australia, Germany, South Africa, or other English-speaking countries) they quite literally CAN'T.


Please note, distribution is a problem if you have only the one title. At least try and get it on amazon and accept the costs as part of your marketing push.

If you're the publisher, it IS your responsibility. No question.


If you are that sure of your book, you can price it as you wish. Volume sales will either bring in good returns or a conventional publisher to buy the rights.

This is happening more and more often--which is gratifying to see. It seems that some of the stigma is gone from self-publishing. Hopefully, that will continue. :)


Once you have at least five titles, there are organisations like Gardners of Eastbourne (I am sure there are US and RoW equivalents) who will distribute and handle returns and so forth.

This is known in the US as "book fulfillment services." It's definitely worth the money if you think you've got a "hot" title that has the potential to be distributed and shelved across the country. A good place to find a list of book fulfillment distributors/wholesalers is at PMA, the Independent Publisher Association -- http://www.pma-online.org/distribute.cfm


Thankfully, I have sold quite a few though not enough to feel proud or flush! But I have never had a return … and the overwhelming majority have all been sold to ‘strangers’. Friends and family tend to want copies for nothing!

So do strangers... ;)


Authors of every description had better get used to this form of technology because, soon enough, even titles brought out by conventional publishers will be bought from booths at stations and malls.

I don't know that this will happen during the lifetime of most people past the age of 30. It MIGHT happen, and I'd actually be glad to see it happen. The trick would then be managing royalties to the author. It's already difficult for a publisher to determine the number of books loose in the wild, sitting on shelves, versus those actually sold. Only a very few companies (like BookScan) track such things. I can't even IMAGINE the headache of polling a million machines across the country every single week or month. It'd be like voting machines, but every day. :eek:



That will then put self-publishers and conventional publishers on a very even footing.

Um . . . not really. The availability of a book doesn't mean much without the promotion of a book. Machines, like anything else, would wind up "featuring" those books that have had placement paid for by major publishers. That's what happens now, even in the UK. Think about all that fuss and bother about Waterstone's last Christmas. I don't know that much would really change in that regard.


Even wise book shops will probably have their own book booths (or whatever they are going to be called).

Sure. But I don't think much would change regarding placement. There's too much money involved.


For a start, it will cut down on unnecessary hard stock, while actually INCREASING overall stock and choice, since the technology will be able to hold considerably MORE electronic versions, all waiting to be printed out ‘on demand’.

This is a nice image, but I don't know that it would actually happen. There's a reason why there are still music stores out there even though Columbia House exists. Even if you factor in someone buying at book at a kiosk, there's still an attendant time period. I've had LOTS of PoD books printed--usually for review copies when the ones from the publisher are late. The MINIMUM amount of time necessary to print, cut (since they're likely going to stock the kiosk with larger sheets of paper that are less expensive and then cut them to fit) and glue is about four hours. That glue dries pretty slow. Spit it out before that and you risk the cover and pages not adhering properly and the customer returning the item.


Secondly, it will reduce the wastage from people browsing but never buying. Buyers will be tempted into shops through alternative methods... a topic for a separate thread.

No argument. There's just be more Starbuck's style stores with a kiosk or having it placed in the food court of the mall. "Do your shopping and then pick up a book to read with lunch." or some such. But again, it's the TIME issue that's the problem.


There is more I could write on this but this should help to redress the balance.

And, yes, I have written a book on self-publishing and will be happy to email a pdf to anyone who emails me at euphrosene at floreo dot org.

btw I am an evangelist for lazy learning too! The little books have all been specifically designed to be ultra discreet and to cut out any extraneous text.

Like I say, there's a good potential for a future of PoD books, but the industry is VERY slow to change. It's sort of like sitting on the head of a brontosaurus and beating it on the side of its head to make it change directions. Eventually, it'll happen. But it's not quick. Still, I have every faith that it will eventually change, even though there will be plenty of attendant problems. They eventually get worked out.

But please don't jump all over people who don't feel PoD is a valid choice for their goal in publishing. Not everybody is geared toward marketing. Some people just want to WRITE and not be involved in every step. That's not snobbishness. And neither is acknowledging that there is a dual meaning to the term "POD." If the publishers themselves call themselves "self-publishers" then, as a business model, I find the practice less than favorable for an author--who will have little say in the marketing, or the distribution, or the return policy.

JMHO, as always. Good luck with your books! :)

James D. Macdonald
02-24-2007, 07:11 AM
Let's not continue to confuse Print on Demand (a business model) with digital printing (a technology).

maestrowork
02-24-2007, 07:35 AM
Good luck with that advice, Jim. ;)

Talia
02-24-2007, 07:37 AM
Not everybody is geared toward marketing. Some people just want to WRITE and not be involved in every step! :)

I'd love it if that was possible LOL
Unfortunately most authors have to do almost as much work marketing their own books when they are published by a publisher as they do when it is self-published.

If publishers really did arrange masses of publicity, interviews etc etc for authors I think self-publishing would be much less attractive. This is especially true in a small country because the print runs are so much smaller. In New Zealand a publisher may only print 2,000 copies of a new author's book so the risk/reward is much lower. I know people who have been published with one of the "big" publishing houses here and they've certainly had more help than those of us with boutique publishers but they still had to do most of their own publicity (and yes those authors had small initial print runs even though they were with Random House and the like).

Talia
02-24-2007, 01:51 PM
I just noticed that amazon does POD thru book surge http://www.amazon.com/gp/help/customer/display.html?nodeId=13685731

I guess you can be pretty sure amazon will take the book if you use this service

Cathy C
02-24-2007, 11:47 PM
Let's not continue to confuse Print on Demand (a business model) with digital printing (a technology).

Good point, Jim. I think it would be a good idea to step away from even using the term "Print On Demand" to discuss the machine or technology. Merely saying "offset press" versus "digital press" should be sufficient for people to understand that EVERY digital press is capable of printing one book at a time. Then there's less confusion with the term.


I'd love it if that was possible LOL
Unfortunately most authors have to do almost as much work marketing their own books when they are published by a publisher as they do when it is self-published.

If publishers really did arrange masses of publicity, interviews etc etc for authors I think self-publishing would be much less attractive. This is especially true in a small country because the print runs are so much smaller. In New Zealand a publisher may only print 2,000 copies of a new author's book so the risk/reward is much lower. I know people who have been published with one of the "big" publishing houses here and they've certainly had more help than those of us with boutique publishers but they still had to do most of their own publicity (and yes those authors had small initial print runs even though they were with Random House and the like).

Well, you have to keep in mind that even smaller publishers DO market--but they market to THEIR customers, which are not the readers. The publisher's customer is the bookstore. The bookstore then markets to the public. I agree that a lot of authors market to the public to make them aware of the book. In my mind, that has value. But a lot of authors don't market their books at all and do just fine. It's something I enjoy, so I do. :)

MMcC
02-25-2007, 01:46 AM
There is absolutely NOTHING wrong with POD. I think Lulu is fantastic, and even bought a romance novel I loved via Lulu this year.

I think the real problem is an unwillingness to admit that people on AW are in a war with Publish America, and have allowed the very LEGITIMATE rage and disgust they have for PA to bleed over onto all POD. At this point large portions of that misdirected negativity seem almost subconscious.

maestrowork
02-25-2007, 03:27 AM
I think the real problem is an unwillingness to admit that people on AW are in a war with Publish America, and have allowed the very LEGITIMATE rage and disgust they have for PA to bleed over onto all POD.

I don't think it's true. Most people know what they're talking about, and can separate PA from the rest. AW itself used Lulu for Stories of Strength, or at least recommended it for projects. I think people here are smart enough to understand why PA is bad and it doesn't mean all vanity presses are bad.

Cathy C
02-25-2007, 04:50 AM
There is absolutely NOTHING wrong with POD.

You're right--for some people. But I have VERY high expectations for my books. The minimum number of copies I'm willing to sell of each book I write is around 15,000, while I remain sitting at home writing the next book. That requires a large publisher with the ability to market and stock them around the country. Other people don't have those personal requirements, which is fine for them. But for those who DO have those same expectations, POD won't satisfy it. The POD titles I've contributed to haven't sold enough to fill the gas tank on my truck, despite the effort I've expended. :Shrug:

veinglory
02-25-2007, 05:48 AM
It depends what you mean by wrong. If you know what POD self-publishing acheives and that's what you want, not at all. But a lot of people seem to think they can sell as many books via Lulu as an author would with Tor or Harlequin.

straightshooter
03-18-2007, 09:15 PM
I was looking for a place to provide information about a great printing company I have used, when I stumbled on this thread. I have always had the same sense of 'snobish attitude', and feel a little bit relieved to see that others have felt the same.

The immediate knee jerk reaction to posts about difficulty finding agents or reputable publishers is 'your stuff must not be very good.' The ability to assess a work without ever having read it - is talent wasted. Your psychic abilities should be used for something greater, like world peace. The fact that it is more likely that you will be struck by lightning than published gets lost in the equation.

I found myself left alone to sort through the maze of rejections and bad bad publishers. In the interim - I had about 25 books printed so that I could finally lay my hands on the product I envisioned. This company was fast, very reasonably priced, professional and able to correct many of the problems that kept others from providing me with a book I could hold in my hands. Also - the cost of each is cheaper than getting the manuscript done at office depot. So if hell freezes over, and someone wants to see the MS - I have a really nice, light weight book to mail.

Here is the information for anyone interested in a 'temporary solution' to the pot at the end of the rainbow:

Professional Publishing & Editing Services
A & R Printing
18 TOTAL YEARS IN THE BOOK PRINTING BUSINESS
Chad Ferguson, Account Management Director-615-481-5115
Hugh Daniel, Author Promotions, Westview Publishing
David Pollitt, Director of Author Services-615-419-3750
Artis Butts, Production Manager-615-797-9220
Tavia Cathcart, Editing; Eric Wright, Editing
1217 Claylick Road
White Bluff, TN 37187

veinglory
03-18-2007, 09:32 PM
Is it snobbish to be aware of distinctions? I think that in most cases if the writer can interest a NY Press, they should go that route. Other routes have their place in niche areas and lower circulation numbers.

I was highly impressed recently when pitching a book to a major epublisher. The editor said they would love to look at it but I should try getting an agent and major press first as the book had potential to be picked up by a large press.

Anthony Ravenscroft
03-19-2007, 07:17 AM
The fact that it is more likely that you will be struck by lightning than published gets lost in the equation.
So... this would be you, encouraging your fellow struggling newbies?

Wow.

veinglory
03-19-2007, 06:14 PM
1) Write the most marketable book you can
2) Start by submitting to the largest market, and failing that...
3a) The purist approach--throw the book away and write another
3b) The pragmatist approach--keep trying smaller markets until it sells because $500 or $1000 is better than nothing.

Ralyks
03-24-2007, 01:04 AM
3b) The pragmatist approach--keep trying smaller markets until it sells because $500 or $1000 is better than nothing.

I took the pragmatist approach, but I did it by going vanity POD (instead of trying smaller markets). I ended up making more than $1K, and after my two year contract was up with the vanity, I got picked up by small press (also using POD technology, but a "traditional" business model). So I think POD worked for me. However, I knew from the start I had a niche market. I think most people who try POD end up being dissapointed.

Did that cover designer sticky ever come to fruition? I'll have to check...

Cathy C
03-24-2007, 01:33 AM
:o Whoops... got sidetracked with work and forgot about it. I'll look into putting together the details now. Thanks for the reminder, and congrats on your success, Skylar!

LloydBrown
03-24-2007, 02:54 AM
I took the pragmatist approach, but I did it by going vanity POD (instead of trying smaller markets). I ended up making more than $1K
Just out of curiosity, how much did you have to spend to make your $1,000?

Prosperity7
03-24-2007, 08:51 AM
I took the pragmatist approach, but I did it by going vanity POD (instead of trying smaller markets). I ended up making more than $1K, and after my two year contract was up with the vanity, I got picked up by small press (also using POD technology, but a "traditional" business model). So I think POD worked for me. However, I knew from the start I had a niche market. I think most people who try POD end up being dissapointed.

Did that cover designer sticky ever come to fruition? I'll have to check...

How sucessful have you been in terms of sales?

Prosperity7
03-24-2007, 09:32 AM
Please see if you think this site is putting out good info converning selling books on line.

http://www.ecommerce-guide.com/news/trends/article.php/3548951 (http://www.ecommerce-guide.com/news/trends/article.php/3548951)

Anthony Ravenscroft
03-24-2007, 11:20 PM
It's not a bad article, but it's got a heavy agenda: "Use eBay."

I work with Amazon Marketplace & Amazon Advantage, & I've got my own book to sell on that side of the subject. The ECG article grossly misrepresents the "monthly cost" of the Amazon programs, & vastly downplays the amount of effort required of the publisher or independent seller to have something on eBay as opposed to Amazon, as well as entirely ignoring the "also bought" & "might also like" features of Amazon -- on eBay, when you search for a book title you're likely to get suggestions as to motorcycle gaskets & vacation travel & hip-hop shoes.

Ralyks
03-26-2007, 02:24 AM
Just out of curiosity, how much did you have to spend to make your $1,000?

Sorry if I wasn't clear. I meant that my net profit after all expenses was over $1K.

LloydBrown
03-26-2007, 06:11 AM
My point is that there's a big different in ROI if you have to spend $500 to make $1,000 (or over $1,000) and if you have to spend $10,000 to make $1,000. Obviously, you'd be better off just letting $10,000 work for you.

jamiehall
04-12-2007, 09:09 AM
My book is already at 20+ stores IN STOCK. These screen prints are from Bookfinder4u.com, other book search engines show even more IN STOCK at other stores. I do my POD at LULU, I own my ISBN and all rights also. Oh, it's IN STOCK at Amazon and Barnes & Noble also:

Actually, I know from experience that some online stores automatically list in-print POD books (and sometimes out-of-print POD books too) as permanently "In Stock" simply because a POD book is virtually "stocked" as being print-on-demand (which means that no copy is actually there, but the computer believes it can get one).

Try looking at http://www.addall.com/New/BestSeller.cgi?isbn=1410758095&dispCurr=USD for my book, which is supposedly out of print and I've been unable to buy copies myself. Some stores list it as "In Stock" still.

snook
04-12-2007, 05:52 PM
I agree. Those pages mean nothing now, but at the time I wrote this, I thought they did. Ignorance is bliss sometimes, them comes the hangover. It is selling but I'm not sure how well. The royalties are just now trickling in.

snook
04-12-2007, 05:58 PM
Hey, that's a pretty neat tool, thanks.

huw
04-12-2007, 07:13 PM
The Amazon tool I mentioned in an other thread (www.salesrankexpress.com) shows actual/virtual stock numbers.

For POD books, lowish stock numbers (well below 100) indicate stock ready to (drop) ship, and generally means the title has sold enough to persuade Ingram to warehouse enough copies to meet anticipated demand from stock.

For a title that moves slowly enough, these copies will not be replenished once they're all gone, and then the book shows as having 100 copies in stock. These 100 are 'virtual' copies to enable ordering systems to work with POD. I believe that 99, 98, 97... copies mean that orders have recently been made against this virtual stock.

In the case of your (jamiehall's) book, it shows a stock level of -1, which may indicate 'not orderable'. One of my pseudonymous POD titles, that I let go out of print over a year ago, finally shows 'Not Available on Amazon' and with no marketplace seller listings--but it took a long time to be de-listed.

Huw

jamiehall
04-12-2007, 07:54 PM
I find this whole thread and the responses fascinating. Great learning platform, you see the whole spectrum. One bit of advice: Don't take anything on an internet message board personally, it's a waste of energy and people probably didn't intend to insult you. If they did intend insult, well, shame on them. :D

Good points. I try to listen to everybody, but I give more weight to those who've had real experience or who can back up their arguments with easily-checked facts. If I give equal weight to everything that is said by everyone on a message board, I just end up confused. Anybody can post.

jamiehall
04-12-2007, 07:59 PM
The Amazon tool I mentioned in an other thread (www.salesrankexpress.com (http://www.salesrankexpress.com)) shows actual/virtual stock numbers.

For POD books, lowish stock numbers (well below 100) indicate stock ready to (drop) ship, and generally means the title has sold enough to persuade Ingram to warehouse enough copies to meet anticipated demand from stock.

For a title that moves slowly enough, these copies will not be replenished once they're all gone, and then the book shows as having 100 copies in stock. These 100 are 'virtual' copies to enable ordering systems to work with POD. I believe that 99, 98, 97... copies mean that orders have recently been made against this virtual stock.

In the case of your (jamiehall's) book, it shows a stock level of -1, which may indicate 'not orderable'. One of my pseudonymous POD titles, that I let go out of print over a year ago, finally shows 'Not Available on Amazon' and with no marketplace seller listings--but it took a long time to be de-listed.

Huw

Thanks for the stats tool! I'm glad it's not orderable. I went though a lot to get my rights back and get the thing out of print. For a couple months, I was scared that it hadn't gone out of print as it seemed that people were still ordering it. Lately, it doesn't look like anyone can get it, and my own attempt to purchase it from Amazon.com failed, so I'm happy. Knowing it has a stock level of -1 makes my day.

huw
04-13-2007, 04:50 AM
I think these stock figures (and my own observations of our sales and availability) put to rest the semi-conspiracy theory about Ingram boycotting POD. They keep stock on hand to satisfy predicted demand, which is the rational thing for them to do. A slow-selling POD book will suffer from delayed availability, but to ascribe the performance to the delays rather than vice-versa is to put the cart before the egg (or something). If sales pick up, it will be stocked again.

The other theory that these figures contradict is that POD books show as no stock/out-of-print when booksellers try to order them. I'm sure that that's happened, and I'm also sure that the virtual 100 figure has been introduced to work around it. Ingram makes a profit from selling POD books, after all. It's hardly in their commercial interest to hinder those sales.

Which is not to say that booksellers will be falling over themselves to order POD books--but let's be straight as to why: one or more of short discounts, non-returnability, and no marketing clout. It's part of the scenery; POD authors who wish their books were in bookshops have taken a wrong turn.

Huw

LloydBrown
04-13-2007, 04:00 PM
I think these stock figures (and my own observations of our sales and availability) put to rest the semi-conspiracy theory about Ingram boycotting POD. They keep stock on hand to satisfy predicted demand, which is the rational thing for them to do.

I don't think you understand the use of that "virtual stock" term you keep using. That means it's not there. From the same page you quoted:



Ingram lists them with “virtual stocking,” showing a full 100 copies that aren’t really there. For these books, the Amazon.com stock figure may be inflated by that full 100 copies or some portion of it—especially if Amazon has no copies in its own warehouse.


The "stock on hand to satisfy demand" quantity for most POD titles is going to be zero. I fully agree that that's what they keep on hand.

huw
04-14-2007, 12:49 AM
I don't think you understand the use of that "virtual stock" term you keep using.


I can't see where you got the idea that I ever said that the 100 virtual copies were physical stock. Ingram keeps physical stock of POD titles that sell (=the interesting kind; who cares whether there's stock of Aunt Mabel's memoirs once the family all has their copy?). The better a title sells, the more copies they stock, just as you'd expect.

The 100 virtual copies are for titles that aren't selling, or at least not selling well enough to justify physical stock. They are 'there' to give the appearance of stock for the benefit of ordering systems that would otherwise consider them to be unavailable.

Huw

LloydBrown
04-14-2007, 01:21 AM
This statement of yours
They keep stock on hand to satisfy predicted demand, which is the rational thing for them to do.

doesn't imply that they keep a product in stock--it states it clearly in declarative terms. That's where I got the idea that you think they stock POD titles.

huw
04-14-2007, 04:01 AM
This statement of yours
"They keep stock on hand to satisfy predicted demand, which is the rational thing for them to do."
doesn't imply that they keep a product in stock--it states it clearly in declarative terms. That's where I got the idea that you think they stock POD titles.

Which has nothing to do with any confusion about what virtual means. To re-state what I'm saying:

(1) POD titles that sell well enough are physically stocked.

(2) POD titles that don't sell well, or that stop selling, are virtually stocked at a notional level of 100, occasionally 1 or 2 fewer depending on recent sales. This stock doesn't physically exist. It's there for the benefit of the ordering computers.

Here are my reasons for believing as I do:

(1): With titles that sell, there's a clear pattern of Amazon availability, sales rank, and 'only x titles left' messages--a pattern that, by and large, agrees with the reported Ingram stock depletion and replenishment. It's there for anyone to see, who is prepared to look. I suppose there could be some Occam-defying conspiracy to keep the data in sync and to con Amazon customers into expecting firm delivery of stock that has yet to be created. Call me naive but I prefer to believe there are some books in a warehouse.

(2): Slow-selling titles are listed at 100 copies, yet the ordering time on Amazon indicates that there's no stock (it doesn't promise 'get it by <date> if you order by <time>'. If orders are placed for a title showing 100 copies, I have observed that the virtual stock level drops to 99, 98... I presume that the inventory control software decrements the count whenever a sale is made, which is why they set the virtual stock level at a fairly generous 100.

I do not think, and have never implied, that virtual stock is the same as physical stock. I do not think that every POD title is stocked, only the ones that (from a commercial viewpoint) deserve to be.

Huw

Jamesaritchie
04-14-2007, 05:22 AM
This is a wonderfully friendly forum, so it is a pity there is both an element of snobbishness as well as ignorance over both Print on Demand technology and what self-publishing actually is.

For example, I have just read these comments:

-We don't think POD is a dirty word, but we think it's generally a bad idea for writers who want to sell books to strangers….

-In general, bookstores WILL NOT STOCK self-published/vanity-published books because (a) there's no market for them, (b) they're overpriced, (c) there's no returns policy, (d) there's no quality control, (e) the covers are not professional, (f) there's no publisher backing them with a publicity campaign, etc.

-… what that ACTUALLY means is that someone can walk up to a desk and place a special order for the book and come back 2 weeks later and pick it up, but that the book will *not* be on bookstore shelves, no matter how well-written it is. The only people who do place special orders of POD books are generally the writer's Aunt Gertrude and best friend from high school.

-…Commercial publishing is when a publisher pays you to publish your book. Self publishing is when you pay the publisher to publish your book.

If negative comments are going to be made, at least get the facts straight!!!

Firstly, self-publishing is NOT the same as vanity publishing. With vanity publishing, you sign a contract and pay a publisher of some description (not recommended).

However, with self-publishing, using a PoD supplier, YOU effectively become the publisher.

That *does* mean you have to take control of all the elements that a conventional publisher promises to do… which includes stocking shelves, if you choose to go that route, marketing and so forth. That is why it is called SELF-publishing.

BUT… with the right mechanisms in place, an order can be fulfilled within 72 hours.

I *know* because I have sold quite a few books this way.

AND, please note, even conventional publishers use PoD technology, because not all you conventionally published authors sell that many copies either!

I can think of at least four high profile names here in the UK who did not each even manage to sell 600 copies of their book.

No conventional publisher with any business acumen is going to commit to several thousand copies to stock everywhere if hardly any are going to be sold.

PoD tech is wonderful for allowing them to ‘suck it and see’.

A decent PoD supplier is, in essence, a printer with a particular piece of non-litho technology which can handle covers and content and has a very quick turnaround.

Self-publishing, to repeat myself, is when you, the author, contract them directly to print it. YOU are the publisher.

btw PoD tech will allow virtually any rubbishy covers to look good. However, there are so many low-cost designers around, this too should not be an issue.

What is an issue is having your books on every bookshelf everywhere. But I can think of a few conventionally produced authors in this forum who are not even listed on amazon.co.uk let alone our bookshelves in the UK!

Please note, distribution is a problem if you have only the one title. At least try and get it on amazon and accept the costs as part of your marketing push.

If you are that sure of your book, you can price it as you wish. Volume sales will either bring in good returns or a conventional publisher to buy the rights.

Once you have at least five titles, there are organisations like Gardners of Eastbourne (I am sure there are US and RoW equivalents) who will distribute and handle returns and so forth.

Thankfully, I have sold quite a few though not enough to feel proud or flush! But I have never had a return … and the overwhelming majority have all been sold to ‘strangers’. Friends and family tend to want copies for nothing!

Authors of every description had better get used to this form of technology because, soon enough, even titles brought out by conventional publishers will be bought from booths at stations and malls.

That will then put self-publishers and conventional publishers on a very even footing.

Even wise book shops will probably have their own book booths (or whatever they are going to be called).

For a start, it will cut down on unnecessary hard stock, while actually INCREASING overall stock and choice, since the technology will be able to hold considerably MORE electronic versions, all waiting to be printed out ‘on demand’.

Secondly, it will reduce the wastage from people browsing but never buying. Buyers will be tempted into shops through alternative methods... a topic for a separate thread.

There is more I could write on this but this should help to redress the balance.

And, yes, I have written a book on self-publishing and will be happy to email a pdf to anyone who emails me at euphrosene at floreo dot org.

btw I am an evangelist for lazy learning too! The little books have all been specifically designed to be ultra discreet and to cut out any extraneous text.

A rose by any other name. The only difference between self-publishing and vanity publishing is who gets the money. Vanity is still the only reason for the book's existence. Without the writer vanity, there is no book either way.

Self-publishing or not, the book has not met any standards of quality, and vanity or self, the damned thing likely reads just as poorly.

And either way, the writer pays someone to do something he wouldn't have to pay for if he had a good enough book.

Prosperity7
04-14-2007, 10:46 AM
A rose by any other name. The only difference between self-publishing and vanity publishing is who gets the money. Vanity is still the only reason for the book's existence. Without the writer vanity, there is no book either way.

Self-publishing or not, the book has not met any standards of quality, and vanity or self, the damned thing likely reads just as poorly.

And either way, the writer pays someone to do something he wouldn't have to pay for if he had a good enough book.

That sounds a bit harsh. How many writers were never really appreciated in their own time?

snook
04-14-2007, 06:52 PM
There are some awfully miserable people in this world. Don't let an internet message board get to you.

Jaws
04-14-2007, 07:34 PM
What we have here... is failure to communicate.

(1) POD is a badly named printing technology. It is not a publishing model. Neither is it a distribution model. In other words, it's yet another example of the publishing industry's misuse of words... like the word "publish" (which has a much longer history than does the industry itself, and means "communicated to any third party" in defamation law).

(2) "Demand," "stocked at distributors," and "stocked in bookstores" are three nonoverlapping, noncontinguous sets. They refer to three entirely different concepts bound by incompatible rubrics.

(3) An author's perception of saleability of a work — even when backed up by hard evidence — is at most a data point for a publisher, distributor, or bookstore. It is not proof that a commercial publisher "should" publish a book, that a distributor "should" stock and distribute a book, or that a bookstore "should" stock and sell a book. No matter how passionate the author's belief (or, for that matter, how good the evidence he/she has for that belief), commercial actors in the industry must always consider the opportunity cost (http://www.econlib.org/LIBRARY/Enc/OpportunityCost.html) of each decision... and authors, as a rule, have no idea of what those costs really are.

(4) There are solid, mathematically validated (or, at least, as mathematically validated as anything can be in an industry with a culture of secrecy and a history of dodgy accounting practices) reasons that bookstores treat self- and vanity-published works as if they are used condoms: Only a vanishingly small proportion of them are anything other than "yuck!" Sure, that prejudice unfairly tarnishes that small proportion, and that small proportion is probably larger than the publishing industry would like to admit (although it's vastly smaller than the author community believes). On the other hand, the odds are better when one puts one's life savings on a single spin of 00 on even a fair roulette wheel... and you can bet both that the wheel is not fair and that I've got plenty of statistical data to back up that assertion.

Bottom line:
Get over it. As long as the distribution system in commercial publishing continues to look the way it does — the returns system, the peculiar "economics" of print runs, [i]Thor Power Tools (http://www.sfwa.org/bulletin/articles/thor.htm)-based taxation of inventory, and so on — the most that self- and vanity-published works can do is create the exceptional success story. And it will remain just that — an exception.

Prosperity7
04-15-2007, 10:46 AM
Wow Jaws, what a strange occupation you have listed in your public profile. Do you also have a Dream-Killer branch in your operation?http://absolutewrite.com/forums/images/icons/icon5.gif
Jaws Occupation: Preying on the weak and helpless :Shrug:

lftwondering
04-15-2007, 07:29 PM
WOW, so much to go through. I'm getting my first book published with a small publisher. I have to say, it's a nightmare!! I'm thinking if I have a second book, iUniverse, LULU, etc. might be the way to go. Is there any feedback on the way to go, keeping cost down while getting it on Amazon, having bookstores the option to order it, etc,.
With POD does the purchaser pay iUniverse, LULU, etc and then they pay you your cut? Do book stores order those types of books (for those who request it) Just wondering?

Anthony Ravenscroft
04-15-2007, 07:37 PM
P7, when so many pinheads are being gulled into believing that their illiterate scribblings will make them rich for only a few hours' work, I'm glad that Jaws is in the world to shoot down those addled hallucinations, stomp them into jelly, throw 16-molal nitric acid on the mess, & bury 'em in a hazardous-waste site.

Besides, he makes me look like an optimist.

jamiehall
04-15-2007, 07:50 PM
A rose by any other name. The only difference between self-publishing and vanity publishing is who gets the money. Vanity is still the only reason for the book's existence. Without the writer vanity, there is no book either way.

Self-publishing or not, the book has not met any standards of quality, and vanity or self, the damned thing likely reads just as poorly.

And either way, the writer pays someone to do something he wouldn't have to pay for if he had a good enough book.

A lot of writers get into self-publishing or vanity publishing for reasons other than the low quality of their manuscripts. Other reasons include:
(1) inexperience with the publishing industry
(2) a slick sales pitch by a vanity press
(3) a friend already did it, and highly recommends it

I think that #1 probably covers the largest number of vanity-published and self-published authors. The publishing industry moves very, very slowly, and it is easy to believe that you've got a product that the legitimate publishing industry just won't accept, when perhaps it was going to get around to accepting it in another couple of years. Or perhaps you can't write a query letter worth a darn, and don't have a critique group that will tell you so. Or perhaps, like me, you wasted most of your time submitting to the wrong publishers (in my case, trying to say an adult book was really for children) without any idea of why it wasn't working.

huw
04-15-2007, 08:07 PM
P7, when so many pinheads are being gulled into believing that their illiterate scribblings will make them rich for only a few hours' work, I'm glad that Jaws is in the world to shoot down those addled hallucinations, stomp them into jelly, throw 16-molal nitric acid on the mess, & bury 'em in a hazardous-waste site.

Excellent point. Anybody know a good forum for discussing POD Self-Publishing and Epublishing?

Huw

jamiehall
04-15-2007, 08:13 PM
WOW, so much to go through. I'm getting my first book published with a small publisher. I have to say, it's a nightmare!! I'm thinking if I have a second book, iUniverse, LULU, etc. might be the way to go.


Small publishers are superior in nearly every way to self-publishing service providers like iUniverse, Lulu and so on. The biggest reasons have to do with subtle behind-the-scenes details in the distribution network and the kinds of marketing that can only be done by a publisher, not an author.

If you instead mean a micro-press, those are of highly variable quality, with some of them being on almost the same level as a vanity press, with virtually nonexistant distribution networks.

If you are instead talking about a scam publisher (http://accrispin.blogspot.com/2007/02/happy-valentines-day-from-writer-beware.html), then going with iUniverse or Lulu would indeed be better, as they are at least honest about their business model.


Is there any feedback on the way to go, keeping cost down while getting it on Amazon, having bookstores the option to order it, etc,.


Avoid marketing that largely doesn't work, like bookmarks, junk mail campaigns, spam emails, spammy press releases, postcards, lollipop trees, custom-made book-signing tablecloths and the like. As to what does work, that can be highly individual, depending on what kind of book you're trying to sell.



With POD does the purchaser pay iUniverse, LULU, etc and then they pay you your cut? Do book stores order those types of books (for those who request it) Just wondering?

The purchase is done as if iUniverse, Lulu etc. is the publisher. The "publisher" gets paid the entire price and then, every quarter, or every six months (or whatever time period their accounting department runs on) you get a check for "royalties" which is your portion. The "publisher" always takes a bigger cut than you get, which is why many people recommend honest self-publishing (where you do everything, retain control and get a bigger cut) instead of "partnering" with a vanity press.

LloydBrown
04-15-2007, 08:25 PM
WOW, so much to go through. I'm getting my first book published with a small publisher. I have to say, it's a nightmare!! I'm thinking if I have a second book, iUniverse, LULU, etc

Lulu might be easier in some ways. It also relieves you of the burden of selling a large number of books. Stick with a professional publisher. Dare I ask who?

lftwondering
04-15-2007, 08:39 PM
I dare not say who!!!! I'm still hoping the Novel will be out shortly (already months behind schedule), and it this point to hard to pull away. If things don't start moving smoothly.... you'll find out soon enough!

huw
04-15-2007, 09:27 PM
WOW, so much to go through. I'm getting my first book published with a small publisher. I have to say, it's a nightmare!! I'm thinking if I have a second book, iUniverse, LULU, etc. might be the way to go.

Why are you unhappy with the small publisher? What are your goals for your books? What kind of books are they? If you have a deal with a legitimate small press, I can't see why you'd want to go with a vanity POD.

But to answer your questions:


Is there any feedback on the way to go, keeping cost down while getting it on Amazon, having bookstores the option to order it, etc,.The most cost-effective way is to go with Lightning Source (the printer most of the POD middlemen use) directly. You'll need to do significant leg-work and learn a lot before you can do that, though; Lightning Source is oriented toward dealing with publishers, not consumers. If you need hand-holding then look at Lulu; at least you can get started without paying out any cash (until you order a proof copy of your book) or signing away any rights.


With POD does the purchaser pay iUniverse, LULU, etc and then they pay you your cut?It depends on how the sale is made. If a customer buys a book via Lulu, then it's as you describe. If a customer buys a Lulu book via Amazon, then in essence, Amazon buys a discounted copy from Lightning Source (via Ingram), who deduct their printing charge and pass the balance on to Lulu, who deduct their royalty and pass the balance on to you. Unless the information you're selling can command a high cover price, that balance is likely to be rather small.

The pricing structures of Lulu and of vanity PODs like iUniverse mean that their books are expensive compared to the competition, so this isn't a great way to actually sell books (particularly fiction). Also, don't expect just to sit back and have people flock to your book's Amazon page of their own accord; they won't. If you go into this planning to offer a book for sale, with no idea about how those sales are going to happen, then you're most likely heading for disappointment.


Do book stores order those types of books (for those who request it)It's up to the bookshop concerned. I've heard that some have firm policies against ordering the products of certain POD outfits, for reasons that might include returnability and short discounts. But the more pertinent question is, will significant numbers of people go into a bookshop and try to order your title? You need to be realistic about that. POD has its strengths but getting stocked in bookshops isn't one of them.

Huw

snook
04-15-2007, 09:37 PM
Excellent point. Anybody know a good forum for discussing POD Self-Publishing and Epublishing?

Huw

I love this for the sarcasm and irony. Great wit! I'd also like to find a good forum that does not have a troll problem also. We can get enough hate from reading the news.

Jaws
04-16-2007, 12:34 AM
I'm not a troll. I'm a shark. Get your creature-naming straight!

Seriously, though, if all you want is to hear the rah-rah, boosterism approach to the problems of self-/vanity-/commercial publishing, then a board system designed to give information that necessarily includes avoiding (or at least considering) pitfalls is obviously ill-suited to your desires. However, I favor a warts-and-all approach. Don't think I believe everything is great about commercial publishing, either — I represent authors and other creators of intellectual property almost exclusively (the two exceptions are a packager and a multiform agency that have given me strict instructions to be "author-friendly" because that's their mission), and I have more horror stories than Stephen King, Clive Barker, and Wes Craven could come up with put together... from a part-time law practice.

Keep in mind, too, that boosters tend to see the self-/vanity publishing "alternative" as appropriate for all possible works, whereas that "alternative" is a rational choice only for certain very limited niches. None of those niches, by the way, include "fiction at book length" — I can count the number of true self-publishing efforts for book-length fiction that led directly to commercial success on one hand, as virtually all of the "success stories" are bunk at best, and more often than not depend upon fallacies beyond the ability of all but the Harold Hills of this world to state with a straight face.

snook
04-16-2007, 12:36 AM
Nah, I called it right.

jamiehall
04-16-2007, 01:07 AM
I dare not say who!!!! I'm still hoping the Novel will be out shortly (already months behind schedule), and it this point to hard to pull away. If things don't start moving smoothly.... you'll find out soon enough!

Not naming the publisher is fine. But you might want to privately ask someone knowledgeable, such as Victoria at Writer Beware (http://www.sfwa.org/beware/), whether others have had similar complaints about your publisher.

huw
04-16-2007, 02:20 AM
Seriously, though, if all you want is to hear the rah-rah, boosterism approach to the problems of self-/vanity-/commercial publishing, then a board system designed to give information that necessarily includes avoiding (or at least considering) pitfalls is obviously ill-suited to your desires.

Pitfalls could be documented in a sticky. Then again, the whole never ending PA thread could be summarised in a sticky, but then how would people pass the time? :)

Huw

veinglory
04-16-2007, 02:43 AM
I think general writing/eading forums are the best place to discuss these things. I see e-publishing-only sites saying how mainstream publishing is rubbish and ebooks will save the planet. Self-POD only forums say a similar thing but self-PODs are saving the artisitc soul of our species. Groupthink is rife.

Here you get a range of views and if you want to discuss particular issues or details of how to accomplish something within self-publishing (rather than within publishing in general) you can target a thread to avoid the usual talking points, which have at this point been talked down to smooth nubs.

Prosperity7
04-16-2007, 02:47 AM
The most cost-effective way is to go with Lightning Source (the printer most of the POD middlemen use) directly. You'll need to do significant leg-work and learn a lot before you can do that, though; Lightning Source is oriented toward dealing with publishers, not consumers. If you need hand-holding then look at Lulu; at least you can get started without paying out any cash (until you order a proof copy of your book) or signing away any rights.

It depends on how the sale is made. If a customer buys a book via Lulu, then it's as you describe. If a customer buys a Lulu book via Amazon, then in essence, Amazon buys a discounted copy from Lightning Source (via Ingram), who deduct their printing charge and pass the balance on to Lulu, who deduct their royalty and pass the balance on to you. Unless the information you're selling can command a high cover price, that balance is likely to be rather small.

Huw

I looked at "Lightning Source " and don't understand how it works or exactly what it is. Can you give a detailed explation?:)

huw
04-16-2007, 03:08 AM
I looked at "Lightning Source " and don't understand how it works or exactly what it is. Can you give a detailed explation?:)

Not unless you're paying by the hour. Okay, by the week :)

But check out www.fonerbooks.com.

Huw

lftwondering
04-16-2007, 06:00 AM
huw, thanks for the link, interesting read. I've been aware and I found out about "Lightning Source" last year but the foner books brings a better understanding to how it works.
Bottom line to work with Lightning Source you have to already have an ISBN number and you can only obtain them in block of 10 from Bowker at a cost of $270. So unless you have 10 books ready to go (hmm maybe 10 friends), you might have to rethink and possibly look at the Booksurge $99 package.

Popeyesays
04-16-2007, 06:02 AM
Not unless you're paying by the hour. Okay, by the week :)

But check out www.fonerbooks.com (http://www.fonerbooks.com).

Huw

As best I can tell Fonner Books is highly successful at selling non-fiction material.

I write fiction. Not much of his advice is going to translate into effective sales for me.

Fiction is NOT very successful in internet sales, there is no evidence that it will ever be very successful--at least for the next fifteen years or so--until the current generation who reads everything from a computer screen grows up.

Generally speaking listen well to Jaws. He is a successful attorney for intellectual properties, ask him what his hourly billing rate is and THEN figure out whether getting his free advice is worth your attention. To call him a troll is foolish beyond measure.

Regards,
Scott

snook
04-16-2007, 07:20 AM
I didn't single out one poster over another; guilty conscience maybe? I calls 'em as I sees 'em. I've been called a fool more than once, but I usually see the callers demise. Be constructive and avoid labels, be polite and avoid animosity, be human and avoid being a jerk. There's no excuse for bad manners. How's that for plainspeak? You don't need a lawyer to understand the concept of civility. If you are looking for a roll-over personality, get a cat.

Regards,

Chuck

Popeyesays
04-16-2007, 08:31 AM
I didn't single out one poster over another; guilty conscience maybe? I calls 'em as I sees 'em. I've been called a fool more than once, but I usually see the callers demise. Be constructive and avoid labels, be polite and avoid animosity, be human and avoid being a jerk. There's no excuse for bad manners. How's that for plainspeak? You don't need a lawyer to understand the concept of civility. If you are looking for a roll-over personality, get a cat.

Regards,

Chuck

Actually, I have two cats--neither is a rollover. Do you know cats? I have a dog, too--much more a rollover personality.

From attitude, I'd say you have little idea of civility.
Churlish behavior is unflattering-- I'm not much of a rollover either.

Scott

snook
04-16-2007, 08:40 AM
Well, then we agree. I know a lot of animals and I prefer the four legged over two legged variety any day. You don't roll, I don't roll. We shall be two flat stones bumped up against each other in a field. I can live with that. As far as churlish, that's a label isn't it?

Never been skeered of lawyers before; should I start now?

I'm very civil; I just take exception to others attacks. Don't mistake standing up to keyboard commandoes as attitude or lack of civility. I also don't equate a hourly billing rate with professionalism or ones voice to be heard over another. I do respect a good civil debate however.

Prosperity7
04-16-2007, 08:41 AM
Not unless you're paying by the hour. Okay, by the week :)

But check out www.fonerbooks.com (http://www.fonerbooks.com).

Huw

Thanks for the info.

huw
04-16-2007, 04:10 PM
As best I can tell Fonner Books is highly successful at selling non-fiction material.

I write fiction. Not much of his advice is going to translate into effective sales for me.

Listen anyway. It's free advice, and have you any idea of how high his hourly billing rate is? :)

Seriously, so what? He's not addressing fiction writers; he's exposing an online-only business model that delivers competitive POD book pricing and nets multiple dollars per sale. That's it.



Fiction is NOT very successful in internet sales, there is no evidence that it will ever be very successful--at least for the next fifteen years or so--until the current generation who reads everything from a computer screen grows up.POD isn't read from a screen so I don't see how this is relevant. The problem with selling POD fiction on the internet has more to do with marketing (for many POD writers, it also has to do with the fact that their work is not of commercial quality).



Generally speaking listen well to Jaws. He is a successful attorney for intellectual properties, ask him what his hourly billing rate is and THEN figure out whether getting his free advice is worth your attention. To call him a troll is foolish beyond measure.Yeah, billing rate. See above.

I didn't call him a troll. I think the local POD detractors have the best intentions (combined with an astonishing level of rage). Repeating the same anti-POD mantras ad-nauseum is hardly a constructive use of the forum. Signal-Noise ratio, you know?

Huw

huw
04-16-2007, 04:28 PM
huw, thanks for the link, interesting read. I've been aware and I found out about "Lightning Source" last year but the foner books brings a better understanding to how it works.
Bottom line to work with Lightning Source you have to already have an ISBN number and you can only obtain them in block of 10 from Bowker at a cost of $270. So unless you have 10 books ready to go (hmm maybe 10 friends), you might have to rethink and possibly look at the Booksurge $99 package.

Every country has its own ISBN agency, so not everybody is in the same boat. I believe Canadians can get an ISBN for free, for example.

With booksurge or any of the others, remember that they will be taking a slice off every book sale, hammering author profit and/or boosting the cover price to an uncompetitive level. If you make $1 instead of $5 per sale and if your book sells it's not long before $270 of author profits have evaporated--and the comparison just keeps going down hill with every additional sale.

The problem is, of course, that you generally can't be sure if your book is going to sell until it's too late ;)

Huw

Popeyesays
04-16-2007, 05:24 PM
Listen anyway. It's free advice, and have you any idea of how high his hourly billing rate is? :)

Seriously, so what? He's not addressing fiction writers; he's exposing an online-only business model that delivers competitive POD book pricing and nets multiple dollars per sale. That's it.

But the business model does not apply to fiction. I write fiction. Therefore his business model does not apply much to me.


POD isn't read from a screen so I don't see how this is relevant. The problem with selling POD fiction on the internet has more to do with marketing (for many POD writers, it also has to do with the fact that their work is not of commercial quality).

This is the POD and E-Publishing forum. The definition of e-publishing is it's read from a screen. As to commercial quality, you hit the nail on the head. No vetting, no guarantee of readibility. No sales to speak of.



I didn't call him a troll. I think the local POD detractors have the best intentions (combined with an astonishing level of rage). Repeating the same anti-POD mantras ad-nauseum is hardly a constructive use of the forum. Signal-Noise ratio, you know?

Huw

No, you didn't call him a troll, someone else did. A distress beacon, for instance broadcasts the same material over and over for a reason, The content of the message is not 'Noise'. A military warning radio beacon is there for a purpose--to warn aircraft away. The recorded message is not 'Noise'.

Regards,
Scott

huw
04-16-2007, 05:43 PM
But the business model does not apply to fiction. I write fiction. Therefore his business model does not apply much to me.

Don't worry, I come across lots of stuff on the internet that doesn't apply to me, either--I imagine it's a fairly common experience :)


This is the POD and E-Publishing forum. The definition of e-publishing is it's read from a screen.E-publishing <> internet fiction sales, which appeared to be your subject. I would guess that e-publishing is a tiny fraction of internet fiction sales, even a tiny fraction of POD.


No, you didn't call him a troll, someone else did. A distress beacon, for instance broadcasts the same material over and over for a reason, The content of the message is not 'Noise'. A military warning radio beacon is there for a purpose--to warn aircraft away. The recorded message is not 'Noise'.
... A recorded message would be recorded (=a sticky, in the context of online forums). It doesn't require anybody to keep babbling the same thing into the microphone, over and again. It certainly doesn't need to be as full of bile as some of what happens here (makes me wonder if the most zealous are ex-PA or similar).

Huw

Carmy
04-19-2007, 07:15 AM
Thanks for the tip, Huw -- Canadian ISBNs are free. I didn't know that, but . . .

Indeed they are:

"ISBNs are free to Canadian publishers and take 10 days to receive."
http://www.collectionscanada.ca/isbn/index-e.html

I wonder how this will affect a writer who decided to go with somebody like Lulu. I guess there's only one way to find out. I'll come back if/when I have the answer.

BTW everyone, this is an interesting thread. If I have a MS I don't think will sell to a traditional publisher because of limited appeal, I will go the POD route. However, if I have MSs I think warrant an agent/publisher I will send out queries. Only when I exhaust the market will I turn to POD for those.

Plix
07-18-2007, 08:10 PM
I'm going to start a thread in about 6 months where people will be able to follow really happens when you self-publish. No secrets or anything.

BUT the only thing that really seems of importance to me, is how much money will things actually earn me, taking into consideration that writing takes up MANY goddamn hours and proof-reading etc., isn't free.

But I'd like to share a little information:
I've made 3 e-books that I've put online on their own websites and they are fortunate enough to be ranked in the top 5 on google without adwords.
So far so good ... so here are some numbers for you:
E-book 1: published online in dec. 2004 and until now earned me: 623$
E-book 2: published online may 2005 and until now earned me: 5282$
E-book 3: published online june 2006 and until now earned me: 1272$

Is this incredible? Well ... for a e-book, that's "self-published" I think it's ok.E-book 1 is a complete joke moneywise... I mean, that's just stupid.
E-book 2 was mentioned in the national newspaper and national radio-news. So that helped. But I was fortunate! At least it's going to sponsor my book project, that no traditional publisher wanted to publish.
So I guess this is all a zero-sum game. I mean, I wouldn't be throwing 6-7000$ after this self-publishing hell-zone, if I didn't belive I would earn the double .... But it's chance ... oh yes, it's a damn chance.

And to all people out there who are thinking about this whole POD thing, well ... at least I'm going to be a nasty crashtest dummy in about 6 months and let's see what happens.

Until then .... keep writing and keep going for the money aswell!!
The money is also damn important!!

lisanevin
08-16-2007, 04:53 AM
I started out searching for some publisher, and I found someone bashing POD publishers.
Ok, I might be a little touchy since I have a contract with a POD publisher for my recently pre-released book, but I can assure you, I have a contract along with all the limitations having a publisher has. that is, they have final say from the printed word to the cover. I didn't pay them to publish my book.

After reading the POD bashing comments I joined this forum just so I could post a complaint about this attitude. Happy to see someone already did.

BTW - there ARE book stores stocking my book! More will once my publisher moves my book to major distribution.


Lisa
www.lisanevin.com
Author: Into This Mind

J. R. Tomlin
09-01-2007, 02:03 AM
And I'm joining my voice to yours, Lisa.

There ARE royalties paying PoD presses out there. They vary in their success in getting their books into brick and mortar stores, but they do market. That's how they make their money.

Sure the sales are less than with a "major"-- a lot less. But saying that they don't market isn't true, saying that all PoD is self-publishing isn't true, and saying what isn't true is inexcusable.

I don't have a contract with one, but I am in negotiations with one for a book that for various reasons I feel would not be suitable for a major press. That's the kind of decision each author has to make for herself.

Dave.C.Robinson
09-08-2007, 12:30 AM
The term POD can apply to several different things. One is a printing technology, the other is a business model. Both are based on the simple fact that digital printing is a better deal for a small print run so long as the total cost for all copies comes under the setup cost for an offset press.

Digital technology has been enthusiastically adopted by vanity presses and other author-focused printing services because it lowers the cost of entry. A book can be produced for a very low total cost-- even if the individual cost is orders of magnitude above the industry norm. Unfortunately this lowered cost has a side effect. Because the initial costs were low, there is less need for large sales to make a profit. Since the publisher doesn't need to sell as many books to break even, they have less incentive to make sure they do sell in large numbers. In fact, the technology is so poorly suited for volume printing that above a certain point it becomes prohibitively expensive.

However, the same aspects that make it self-defeating for volume sales make it very efficient for companies like iUniverse/Authorhouse, PublishAmerica, and Trafford. So many vanity presses use the technology that the term POD press is often considered synonymous with "author pays," overshadowing other uses.

A number of smaller presses do use digital printing technology and still sell to readers. However the limitations of the technology make them a much less attractive option for publication. The first problem is scaling. Since the technology doesn't scale well, everything has to be predicated on a relatively small print run. Advances are rare, and or small, because print runs are small. Distribution is limited (regardless of who handles the distribution) because it has to be. Books rarely sell well if there's only one in a given store (I'm a former bookstore manager) so if you have shelf distribution you are going to have multiple copies at each store. There are over a thousand Borders stores in the US, so if you're going to get into all of them with the normal 3-5 book minimum order you'll need between 3-5000 copies at a minimum. This doesn't count B&N, BAMM, or any of the smaller chains or independents.

It's not a good option for anyone who wants to sell to the mass market, regardless of whether it's a vanity or commercial POD house.

J. R. Tomlin
09-14-2007, 05:43 AM
Dave, that is a fair analysis of the subject. Thanks.

ResearchGuy
09-14-2007, 06:16 PM
Dave -- that is an admirable post.

An observation. I have read in a couple of publishing industry memoirs (one by a publisher and one by a bookseller with deep experience) that that the average first, and only, printing of a trade book is 3,000 - 5,000 copies. That suggests that many books (most, probably) never make it onto the shelves--even in single-copy levels--of most bookstores. Comment?

--Ken

Dave.C.Robinson
09-14-2007, 06:36 PM
A lot of books don't make it onto the shelves of all bookstores-- possibly even most. Any given medium-sized city could easily have a dozen bookstores. One or two chains are likely represented, with at least one chain having multiple outlets, and more likely both. There will also be various independents. No two stores, not even in the same chain, will carry the same stock.

For example, Chain #1 may have one warehouse store, a big downtown store and three mall stores. Each of these stores will have a different order list. The warehouse will have the greatest variety, and so on in order of size. However, things are also differentiated by clientele. One store may sell disproportionate amounts of crime fiction. All the crime buffs in the city go there. Another may sell more fantasy and SF. Over time it will start carrying a wider variety of that genre, and may even carry more different titles in the one genre than the warehouse does. Some of the independents may be focused as well-- or perhaps the owner refuses to carry one kind of book. Plus, most stores carry the bestsellers that are their bread and butter titles too.

It's as much art as science knowing what store to put a book in. What really matters is making sure a book is made available in at least one, preferably more, outlets in any given city, and that those outlets be the ones that are most likely to sell it.

Beast
01-24-2008, 05:03 PM
[quote=snook;1128143]My book is already at 20+ stores IN STOCK. These screen prints are from Bookfinder4u.com, other book search engines show even more IN STOCK at other stores. I do my POD at LULU, I own my ISBN and all rights also. Oh, it's IN STOCK at Amazon and Barnes & Noble also:


Please permit me to quote from Blackwell books: bookshop.blackwell.co.uk

Please note that in stock indicates that this book is available from our warehouse or our supplier. It does not necessarily mean that this book is available at your local shop.

Tomornorman
04-24-2008, 06:56 AM
Every country has its own ISBN agency, so not everybody is in the same boat. I believe Canadians can get an ISBN for free, for example.

Huw

Huh.... what was that you say ?? First time I heard of that. Glad I didn't nod off before I got to that piece of info.

If anybody knows more about that, let me know !!

*** Never mind, I found it soon after asking ! ***

ResearchGuy
08-18-2008, 07:20 PM
Interesting news from Publishers Weekly. Robert Kuttner's new book about B. Obama and policy issues is to be published POD via BookSurge/Amazon.

Quoting in part:


Chelsea Green Makes Obama Book Available Early Exclusively on Amazon

By Lynn Andriani -- Publishers Weekly, 8/15/2008 7:40:00 AM

Chelsea Green Publishing is crashing a book on Obama in time for the Democratic National Convention in Denver later this month.. . .


In the book, Kuttner, an economic journalist and cofounder of The American Prospect, explains what Obama, if elected, must do to solve America’s economic crisis and, in the process, become a transformative leader. Chelsea Green’s first printing is 75,000 copies, . . . and the book will be printed on-demand by BookSurge, as a $13.95 trade paperback. . . .
http://www.publishersweekly.com/index.asp?layout=articlePrint&articleID=CA6587609

So it appears that Chelsea Green is using a dual model: POD to make the book available as fast as possible plus a substantial offset print run to get copies into bookstores. (My interest here is strictly that publishing model in conjunction with a very time-sensitive topic, not the particular subject of this book.)

FWIW.

EDIT: Independent bookstores are piffed over the move. See http://www.chelseagreen.com/company/contactus/an_open_letter_to_booksellers_regarding_obamas_cha llenge/ for the publisher's response.

--Ken

robertmblevins
08-19-2008, 03:44 PM
great

JosephR
08-19-2008, 04:14 PM
Really interesting information, Ken. I wouldn't be surprised if we start to see this dual-model approach from other publishing houses as well.

beccam
08-24-2008, 11:06 PM
Great information Ken.
I must admit my background is not the publishing world, but as I have gotten involved over the last couple of years, I have found it fascinating that publishing seems so mired in the past. Management and business techniques that are ubiquitous in other areas (Just in time delivery, make to order and lots of techniques with Japanese sounding names:>)) are taken to be so radical in publishing.
Without these new technologies and business models , I am surprised that any publisher has survived.
The next few years will be fascinating.
Again, thanks to this entire board for the education.