POD means Print On Demand. POD companies provide layout and printing services for authors who want to self-publish. After you are done revising you book manuscript, your POD printer will provide you a software template to layout your final book pages. Their software will enable you to design a basic cover for your book too. Besides providing you with a layout, POD publishers print and bind your book pages.
The convenience of POD publishing is that you can choose not to handle print copies yourself when you sell them. However, may authors ask their POD printer for multiple copies to take with them when they are speaking at an event and plan to sell those copies.
POD publishing seems easy and may appear to be more cost-effective in comparison to producing and distributing a book on your own, but there are some limitations to POD publishing that you should be aware of before you decide if POD is right for you.
Don’t let the word “royalties” fool you. POD companies operate very differently from real publishers. Traditional publishers assume all of the risk if your book fails to sell. They print your book and take their expenses out of your royalties after they sell your book. POD publishers make you pay printing expenses up front. Then they give you “royalties” when you sell your book.
In addition, a typical publisher provides about twenty five important services to their authors. POD printing companies offer only a handful of these publishing services.
In order to evaluate the scope of the services offered by any POD publisher, you need to know what services a traditional book publisher offers for their authors. Here is a Checklist of the major authors’ services offered by traditional book publishers.
*If it is vital that you never have copies of your book become temporarily unavailable, POD may not be your best way to go.
Bear in mind that POD publishers, like other new small businesses on the web without a proven track record, can and do fail.
*If you want control over the quality of your book, POD may not be for you.
Many POD publishers operate with an eye primarily on their bottom line. Their software often does not allow for sophisticated design or formatting.
*If you want service-oriented professionals working on your book, POD publishing may not be for you.
Many POD publishers are assembly-line type operations. Their focus is on production and not on customer service. They promise results in a certain amount of time, but they don’t guarantee satisfaction. An offset book printer may be a better choice.
*If you’re on a budget and/or you want to get the best return for your time invested in your book, POD may not be for you.
Many POD publishers tack on additional charges once you’ve met a minimum standard they set. These charges on top of the amount the charge for publishing your book can be steep. Nor will corrections always be cheap to make.
*If you’re in a hurry to get your book out, POD may not be the choice for you.
The POD process usually involves rigid turn-around timetables. You will have to wait for changes and corrections to be made. Some POD publishers delay your publishing process further because of their slow billing.
*If you plan to market to libraries, POD is not your best choice.
Libraries have standards for books that POD publishers can’t match. Because of that, POD publishers can’t provide a library catalog record for your book. Small press publishers, on the other hand, can provide CIP (cataloging-in-publication) data. (Although, be aware some small press publishers use a POD company or even outsource the printing of books to India.)
If you go with a POD publisher, unlike authors who get a publisher, you will pay to have your book printed. So as with any printer, try to make sure your POD printer does the job the way you want it done. Make sure to read your contract thoroughly. Here are a couple things beside pricing, special charges, scheduling, and the right to cancel or terminate the project to pay attention to.
* You’ll want to keep your copyright in your own name. This is essential for all self-publishing authors. Your copyright means you alone have the legal right to publish your book, parts of your book, a second edition of your book, an audiobook, etc. Publishers usually take these rights in return for fronting your costs. POD companies have no legitimate basis for demanding these rights from you.
*You’ll also want to retain the right to your own book layout files. You’ve paid for this layout service, and if you need to move on, you must have the right to your POD’s formatted cover and interior pages.
Be aware that there’s a great deal of variation among POD publishers. For example, royalties paid by LightningSource.com are much higher than those of its competitors. Some POD publishers specialize in a particular market segment (i.e., genre), such as scholarly books or cookbooks. Some have programs to help you design your own book. Others don’t. Some offer assistance with converting your book to ebook formats, while others don’t.
Some POD publishers help you market your books; many don’t. As a result, a POD company that uses Ingram as a distributor is your best choice. Ingram is one of the few distributors that markets as well as distributes books. Ingram not only markets to bookstores; it also markets to libraries.
This is another reason you need to devise a marketing plan for your book even before you begin writing it. Your choice of a POD publisher and professional book-service-providers should be made with a clear picture of what kind of book you will publish, who your readers will be, and the total costs of production, marketing, and distribution. For a list of the experts you may need to hire, take a look at my Author’s Dream Team.