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JosephR
04-03-2007, 07:25 AM
After reading postings on POD and self-publishing, I'm somewhat confused. I thought self-publishing meant that an individual did everything that a major publishing house did but on a much, much smaller scale, with the end products being virtually indistinguishable. In contrast, I considered Lulu, iUniverse, BookSurge, etc., to be PODs, with the quality questionable and generally a bad bargain for the writer. Now I'm reading postings where self-publishing and POD seem to be used interchangeably. Are they considered to be the same or different?

spinnerin
04-03-2007, 09:22 AM
It's been said elsewhere on this forum, but POD is a technology, and self-publishing is a type of business. Not interchangeable. POD could make sense for a self-publisher only planning to sell a small number of copies, as long as you pick the right company to work with (Lulu seems to get good marks). You would have to check with different printing services to see at what point different printing options make the most sense.

FWIW, we only printed 150 copies of the zine I publish, and the printer still gave us a better deal per copy for ordering 100 than they would have for 50 or 25. (This is at MetroPrint in Portland, OR. I've been very pleased with their service so far.)

JosephR
04-03-2007, 05:10 PM
Thanks Spinnerin. Yes, I've read much about self-publishing and POD here at AW, and many of the postings were consistent with what you posted. But then I came across a few didn't sound quite right. In any event, your explanation helps to clarify the distinction.

LloydBrown
04-03-2007, 05:34 PM
many of the postings were consistent with what you posted. But then I came across a few didn't sound quite right. In any event, your explanation helps to clarify the distinction.

Not everybody is as consistent with the distinctions. It tends to fade in everyday use.

Also, self-publishing is one of the most commonly-discussed reasons for using POD, so there's a close association. If your book hard the market to sell many thousands, thus making an offset print run viable, you should be able to sell it to a publisher. In all likelihood, you wouldn't want to self-publish. Conversely, if you're self-publishing because you couldn't find a publisher, you're not likely to sell many copies and POD becomes a less risky option than offset printing.

ResearchGuy
04-03-2007, 07:35 PM
After reading postings on POD and self-publishing, I'm somewhat confused. . . .
1. Self-publishing. The author owns the ISBN for the book (if it has one) and manages his or her own publishing business. That business either performs or contracts for all of the services required for publishing (editing, book design, printing, promotion & marketing, warehousing, distribution, and so on). Normally (what I call "authentic self-publishing") the author/publisher contracts for a run of books (hundreds or thousands of copies) and either takes delivery of the books or arranges for storage and fulfillment by another company or companies. Self-publishing companies can (and often do) consist of a sole proprietorship with no employees. Some take a corporate form, have employees, or both. Some expand to take on books by other authors, thus morphing into "small publishers" or "independent presses" rather than "self-publishers," a term that is often used pejoratively on AW and reduced to the epithet "self-pubbing."

2. POD (print on demand). A technique by which one copy of a book is produced at a time, when ordered.

Thus, it is entirely possible to use the POD method for self-publishing, or for any other kind of publishing. But it is not an economical method if the publisher expects to sell a large number of books (several hundred to thousands), especially in a short period of time (months). Likewise, it is entirely possible to have something that is not "published" in any recognized sense produced via a print-on-demand process (conceptually, this could be copying and spiral-binding done at Kinko's or OfficeMax).

Commercial publishers might occasionally use POD to produce copies of slow-moving backlist titles rather than let them go completely out of print.

"Print on demand" was how books were produced during ancient times. The method was hand copying then, as opposed to digital printing and automated binding now, but the principle was the same: a copy requested, a copy made. For a readable look at the history of book selling and publishing, from ancient times to now, see Lewis Buzbee's The Yellow-Lighted Bookshop (Graywolf Press, 2006).

I hope that is helpful.

--Ken

spinnerin
04-03-2007, 08:21 PM
Not everybody is as consistent with the distinctions. It tends to fade in everyday use.

Also, self-publishing is one of the most commonly-discussed reasons for using POD, so there's a close association. If your book hard the market to sell many thousands, thus making an offset print run viable, you should be able to sell it to a publisher. In all likelihood, you wouldn't want to self-publish. Conversely, if you're self-publishing because you couldn't find a publisher, you're not likely to sell many copies and POD becomes a less risky option than offset printing.

I'm not sure how well this scales from a magazine (48 pages) to larger books, but the reason I mentioned the print run on my zine is that I was pleasantly surprised to find out that a small digital print run was significantly more cost effective than POD. I haven't asked the printer how many copies I'd need to order before I should look at offset, but I could check if that's useful to anyone.

JosephR
04-03-2007, 08:57 PM
Thanks, ResearchGuy. The fog is lifting, and I now have a pretty good idea of what self-publishing and POD are. I've reached the same conclusions as you. If I'm hearing you correctly, "authentic" self-publishing may be the route to take if it is expected that one will sell hundreds or even thousands of books; otherwise, POD would be an acceptable option.

I've read some of your other postings, and like you, I know of others who have been quite successful at "authentic" self-publishing. One in particular wrote an excellent non-fiction book, had a terrific marketing plan, and if we are to place credence in Amazon.com's ranking, it is selling reasonably well (it consistently has been between the 10,500 to 25,000). I do believe that success in self-publishing is less rare than winning the lottery. I know of some success stories with self-publishing, but I know of no one who has won the lottery. I once won $3, if that can be considered winning the lottery.

At this stage, being the traditionalist that I am, I've submitted eight queries to what I consider to be top-shelf agents and thus far have received two requests for partials and no direct rejections (although to be honest it's been about two weeks, and as "they" say, silence is often a sign of disinterest). Still, I'd like to keep all my options open if things don't pan out with the agent route.

As you might has guessed, I'm new to AW. I've enjoyed reading your postings as well as many others here.

jawar
03-05-2008, 09:31 PM
Joseph you fully understand the difference between self-publishing and pod. Unfortunately, others have used the terms interchangeably adding to the confusion of self-publish vs. pod.

veinglory
03-06-2008, 03:52 AM
When people say POD they often mean self-POD, i.e. self-publishing by using print on demand.