I am by no means an expert on publishing or writing. I have only been writing for a couple of years and have only been published in May of 2005, so what makes me want to write about Print On Demand or POD as it is called in the publishing and writing industry? I have read and heard a lot of facts from others who have been ripped off and robbed by so called reputable Print On Demand Publishers. And many of the publishers I am talking about are not small and hard to find businesses. Some have ads and such on various websites and advertise themselves as real publishers.
This may sound harsh but I have heard on more than a few web site forums about this type of thing and many aspiring writers need to be warned. Strongly warned.
Now don’t get me wrong, the Print On Demand industry is full of good companies that have a reputation for good business and good publishing practices, but on the other hand any industry has it’s lower life forms. These are the ones I want to warn everyone who thinks they can get their book published by just paying someone to print it.
First and foremost everyone has to realize just what Print On Demand or POD really is. It is a way to put a book into print form that does not require the use of printing until there is a demand for the book. It simply means that you will not have the book printed until someone orders the book. Using a computer your book is set into a format that is ready to print and be bound, but not until they have an order for it.
This may sound like a great way to sell a book but it is just the opposite. You have to understand not how these types of businesses work but how the publishing industry works as a whole. It is a lot simpler than saying you can get published if you just pay someone to print out your book whenever they need a new one.
Who is actually selling that book when it is sitting at the company that promises to publish it? Who is the one who will buy this book when you have it sitting at some POD company and it is not sitting on a shelf in a bookstore? You need to understand that there are some times and reasons to use this type of publishing but if you are an aspiring author or writer and just have to get published, it is not the best way.
Many times, POD’s will not do what they say they will or will do things a little different than what they tell you, but exactly what the contract says they have to do. This works simply by the theory that they will earn money by printing books, not selling your book. The Print On Demand industry has some companies that are down right cruel in how they run their business. Often times they will promise to market your book but the contract only says they will print out so many copies and the rest is up to you. This means any promotions, appearances, marketing and distribution would be your job. This is a lot of work and impossible if you don’t know what your doing.
Here goes, to get a book into print is not publishing. Publishing a book is not only printing that book, it is also editing and rewriting it until it is in a form that the reader can actually read it from all the errors and grammatical problems with it. Not every writer can put out a book with few or no errors. They have help from editors that will read the book and go through page by page, catching any errors of spelling and grammar that they can. Then it goes to another who reads it to make sure the first one got most of the errors. This is how a real publisher would handle the book that it accepts to get published and sell at the real market of places like Barnes and Noble and B. Dalton Booksellers.
When you think you have a story, you need to write it. Then you need to find either an agent to handle selling your book to a publisher or a publisher to print and sell the book. The agent will handle all the details of selling the book that you don’t need to worry about, to get an agent is work on your part though. You have to interest an agent in your work and get him or her to read it and then if they think you have something that will make money for you and them, they will start in on getting it published. If you feel your book is good enough and you are savvy enough to handle the business aspects of your book, contracts and marketing and all that, then you can try with the publishers to see if they want your work.
This is quite simplified and is not the end all and be all of the industry but it is pretty much the simple look at it, either an agent or a publisher will print the book and market it. They will get some people like magazines and newspapers to read it and give their review. Then they will advertise it and put it on the market for all to buy. This is the part that someone who has no background or experience in publishing or writing would find especially difficult to do. You cannot just simply print a book and walk to Barnes and Noble and tell them to put it on the shelf. It doesn’t work like that. In fact if you walked in with your finished book and asked them to sell it they would not, they would ask what publishing house it is with.
You have to get someone’s opinion about your work before you even try to publish, if you like the story or book, that doesn’t mean it will sell. You need to get an unbiased opinion and someone that knows the current market of publishing, what is selling and what is not. You need an expert to sell your work and not someone you are paying, they will only want more money from you. All Print On Demand are not the same though, I know of one in my area that is very reputable and are right for some situations to use as a publisher. Some of these situations are not all the ones you may be thinking about though. If your subject is rare or special then you may consider a POD. But if you want to sell that book and make money at it, you should go the route of an agent and not Print ON Demand.
Even a contract is a tough thing to read and understand and you should consult a lawyer before signing one whether you go with an agent, a publishing company or a POD. There are many things that are rather hard and lawyer like on contracts and that should be left to the professionals, just as publishing should be left up to companies and agents who know the business and the people who can get what you want done.
There are many tales of horror from some POD companies and many are not that funny. People have lost thousands and have little or no hope of publishing that particular work in a real market. Many companies that claim they will publish your work and ask for pay are not legitimate. That is the biggest sign that you should look for if you want to make money on your work of writing. If you have to pay, then you are not making money. No matter when or what anyone says, if you have to give a deposit, of fee or anything in advance of getting that book in your hands it’s not going to make you money.
I have heard of someone who did go with a Print On Demand company and it worked out for him, he was not looking to make a fortune, just to write a book and have friends, family and local residents buy his writing and enjoy his story. That is what Print On Demand is for, the smaller market that is local or specialized. Not the money making bestseller that many aspiring authors dream about. I also have that dream but I also have a good deal of common sense and realistic knowledge. I know how the industry works, and I will not be able to sell my book until I get the attention of an agent or publisher, and am doing this by starting small and working my way into the business.
If you really want to get into writing try your hand at this site and any others like it. Also go to a website about writing and get advise and help from writers in forums who will get the correct information to you. One such web site that I am happy to be a member of and found out about this site from is called Absolute Write Water Cooler: http://www.absolutewrite.com/forums/ . You can find others that will give you real world advice on writing and selling your work.
One thing that I think is worth mentioning on this topic that makes real sense to check out about, if you think the web site I am going to refer you to has an appropriate name your right. Predators and Editors IS a publishing and writing help site that warns of the bad and recommends the good in the writing industry. You should really check out any company you are thinking about going with here: http://www.anotherealm.com/prededitors/.
Before getting your book or writing published, you should make sure your getting the deal you know about, and get it in writing. A contract is something you can take to court and get an answer if things change afterwards, a promise is not.