Saturday, October 14, 2006


POD publishing, aka Print on Demand, has its good and bad points. Here's a reposted entry about my thoughts on the subject.
From "Publishers Weekly," 1/30/06 issue:
"The advent of POD has given authors who have been bypassed by traditional publishers or who are interested in keeping control over their work more opitons than ever for getting into print.Now, a number of publishers that provide more services than traditional vanity presses or their POD counterparts have sprung up. Literary Architects, based in Indianapolis, and Syren Book Co., based in Minneapolis, are j8ust two examples of these new companies that charge a range of fees to publish a book."
The acquisitions director for Literary Architects comes from traditional publishing houses and the company is currently accepting about 25 per cent of submitted proposals, though that's expected to decrease as more people start submitting.

Both companies offer editing, design, production, do fulfillment and marketing and both pay royalties, same as traditional publishers. The difference between them and traditional publishing is that they give authors the final say and the authors retain all rights. Both companies focus on non-fiction, which I suppose, is no surprise, since that tends to lend itself to authors publishing on their own and carving out a niche market.

The main difference between the two companies is internal, it seems. Literary Architects outsources most of its services, while Syren provides everything in-house. And though they don't have sales departments, their books do get listed with Ingram and Baker & Taylor.

Just another option to consider, especially if you're writing non-fiction.
I have no problems with POD as a concept. For people who want to do small print runs of nice looking books for family and friends (family cookbooks, family histories) or for publishers looking to keep backlist titles in print without having to deal with stock, the process of print on demand is very attractive. And some authors have had success with self-published books, either using POD services or traditional printing houses, but as with any technology, POD is neutral and can be used for both good and evil.

Unfortunately, there are people out there looking for shortcuts (or, failing to find the magic formula, decide to make their own) or who are paranoid that the traditional publishers won't see the brilliance of their prose out of some prejudice against newbies. These people either fail to get their mss edited or if they do have someone edit it, they don't get a proper edit. Instead of an honest appraisal, they get what they want to hear. And then they publish their brilliant story. They might publicize it up the wazoo and they'll probably sell a bunch of copies, but unless they're one of the very few who actually wrote something brilliant, and maybe are lucky enough to attract the attention of the traditional publishers and get a distribution deal or a book deal for their next brilliant ms, they're doomed to be just more in a growing list of people whose opinion of their writing is not shared by most of the book buying public.

But I don't blame POD. I blame the companies using POD who firmly believe in the sucker born every minute concept and seek to exploit it. Then again, maybe the people whose eogs outstrip their common sense just get what they deserve. Which leads me to this: We can do our best to educate folks, make sure they know what they're getting into, the hard work involved, the highly specialized work that might best be left to experts in those areas, etc. and if they still want to go ahead, let them.

In this case, the writer got so much wrong, education wouldn't have made a difference. I've encountered enough self-published or vanity-published writers on writers boards, some of whom are trolls, to know that. The bit about wanting to control everything including the cover design, well, once you see it, you might feel, as I did and apparently so do others, that perhaps the cover should have been left to the experts. It sure wouldn't make me want to pick it up in a store and read it, and especially not on an online listing.

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