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Should You Consider the Print on Demand Route? (Part 1 of 2)

It’s never easy for authors to get accepted by traditional publishers. If you go back in history, you’ll discover a plethora of prominent authors who, early in their careers, had to dish out their own hard-earned money to have their first novels printed. Consider these names:

Alexandre Dumas

D.H. Lawrence

Edgar Allan Poe

Edgar Rice Burroughs

George Bernard Shaw

Gertrude Stein

James Joyce

John Grisham

Mark Twain

Mary Baker Eddy

Rudyard Kipling

Stephen Crane

Upton Sinclair

Virginia Woolf

Walt Whitman

William Blake

Zane Grey

The list continues up to this day. John Grisham sold copies of his first novel, “A Time to Kill” out of the trunk of his car. Similarly, James Redfield’s New Age bestseller, “The Celestine Prophecy” was originally self-published, selling 100,000 copies out of the trunk of his car before Warner Books picked it up.

Now that the Internet allows many potential authors to self-publish, it gets tougher getting published via the traditional route. Traditional publishing houses have become even more rigid in filtering which books to publish, given that so many people, whether they have the talent for writing or not, can publish a book. Even agents are becoming more selective and their new acquisition of talent comes recommended.

This fact is frustrating for many aspiring authors wanting to see their work in print. E-book publishing has become a popular recourse. Another route some authors take is vanity publishing. This type of publishing, however, has earned a bad rap in the publishing industry. If you want to take this option, do some research first and then decide.

And then there is print on demand (POD). Could this be an ideal solution for publishing your book? Print on demand books (POD) have helped authors to get their books out and place them in online and physical bookstores. So how does print on demand work? POD is not limited to books. It can manufacture any products featuring an artist’s work from mugs to pillows. POD caters to any type of creative and artistic entrepreneurs. But for now, let’s stick to books.

Along with publishing services, POD offers distribution, packaging, customer service, logistics, and other marketing services to help authors focus on their writing. POD opens up a whole new revenue for authors as they can sell books online and in person. This allows authors to reach a wider market, as some customers prefer downloading books for e-readers while others prefer traditional paperbacks. POD services shoulder most of the marketing gig.

However, you should never jump into POD without doing your research first. You need to look at the big picture and ask around for authors who have tried this service. POD may sound like an author’s dream self-publishing deal, but before setting up any high expectations, consider the challenges you might encounter with the POD route.

Royalties will depend on the contract. PODs act like a broker. They take a commission on your sales. They exist to make a profit and they don’t dispense quality service for free. Considering the huge burden of printing and marketing they take off your shoulders, expect them to take a huge share in your profit margins. Depending on your agreement, you can be paid through royalties or markup from the bottom line cost of your book. Read your agreement carefully. It also depends on the degree of service that a POD provides. Often, they have tier packages that let you choose according to your budget.

Written by Readers’ Favorite Reviewer Vincent Dublado