POD (publish-on-demand) books frequently violate principles of good book design: readability, sturdiness and durability.
Too often POD books are easily to spotted by book lovers. Book lovers definitely include librarians, a group that traditionally has had a longstanding aversion to buying “vanity” books from self-publishers.
Quality does affect sales! Author, beware of the following top ten signs of a poor POD book:
Top ten signs of a Poor POD Book
Note that POD companies won’t catch and fix an editor’s or designer’s mistakes like some of those mentioned above. You’ll need to hire a professional “team” of experts to ensure your book doesn’t have these mistakes.
Other kinds of distractions in POD books
All of these things affect a book’s usability and its desirability.
POD companies are one-off printing companies. They print your book only when the you are ready to go out and sell it or a customer buys it. The advantage of POD publishers is that they save you the hassle and expense of storing and distributing copies of your print books.
But, unlike traditional publishing, you get no advance for your POD book. Nor does a POD publisher pay your book manufacturing costs and deduct them from your royalties as your book earns money. Instead, you pay all the production expenses (quite hefty at that for what you get). And most importantly, a POD publisher cannot get you into the national CIP (cataloging-in-print) electronic catalog database that serves librarians as a seal-of-approval by the Library of Congress that your book is one that librarians will want to consider for purchase.
For a print book you can try a small press publisher or an independent publisher. Some of these publishers offer author’s advances. You can also go with do-it-yourself (DIY publishing). For this you need a quality offset printing company and a reliable print-book distributor.
Other alternatives to POD books are downloadable digital books: these include eReader ebooks, audiobooks, and PDF books.
Downloadable digital books too are one-off printing products just like POD books. However, these books pass on the labor and cost of printing to the customer. Their expectation is that readers will listen to your book or read your book onscreen instead. By doing that they can use your book’s active links to navigate its text and to find additional information, either in the book or online.
Downloadable digital books do not have shipping costs. But PDF books, ebooks and audiobooks do have online file-storage, display, and distribution costs.
In the case of PDF books, file storage and distribution costs are minimal – about $5 to 30 a month at companies such as eJunkie or 1shoppingcart. Your major cost is display. You, the author, provide a WordPress blog site or a web site for display and purchase of your book. You must SEO your site and market it.
In the case of ebooks and audiobooks, the standard “royalty” that Apple, Kindle-Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and other “supermarket”-type ebookstores, charge authors is 30 percent of the book’s retail price (although a Kindle ebook can run an author as much as 50% in fees). If your digital book is an ebook or audiobook, the ebookstores you sell it at will display your book for you online. (I recommend that you also create your own blog or web site and/or Facebook site for your book too!)
Whatever choice(s) you make, the key thing is starting with a marketing plan. A million books are published every year in the US. How will your book be noticed in the crowd?