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Thursday, May 6, 2010

Print On Demand (POD)

Everyone would love to be picked up by Doubleday, or Random House, or Harper Collins. One of the real big boys giving you the time of day would probably be the ultimate thrill to any aspiring writer. Maybe it will happen to YOU? But chances are, unless you have a very good agent and are very lucky (and hopefully very talented), those Publishers aren't going to be hammering down your door. And these days, with the economy the way it is, Publishers, just like anyone else, are looking for products they think have a good chance of succeeding. Does this mean you don't have what it takes to get snapped up by the big guys? Of course not. You very well may. It's just saying: be realistic! An alternative for burgeoning writers has come in the form of POD (print on demand) books. POD yields a lot of good things for beginning authors. First, you can be your own publisher and control your own work. Second you can get your work into the public eye, and with some promotion and hitting the pavement, you can get your name noticed. No, it won't be anything like if Simon and Schuster promoted your work, but at least there is some knowledge of who you are and the genres you cater to. POD Publishers like Lulu will print your book for you and take a cut of all that are sold via the web. Amazon is a huge seller of many POD books. You create the book, choose the artwork etc and create a PDF file of it. Based on specifications given by Lulu (or whoever it may be) you set up the PDF, submit it to Lulu and they then are in charge of creating the final book. I believe they are even the ones who will post it on Amazon. The down side of course is that you do much of the work of setting up the book. Lulu is basically the printer and distributer...although sometimes they are listed as the Publisher, even though you basically are that. Unless you have a situation like I do where you have a small Publisher who works with a company like Lulu, in such case the small Publisher would do most of the work for you, but they'd also take a cut of the profit margin, as they do with me. Another upside to POD is that they don't have to have a physical stock, so you don't have to worry about unsold books languishing around. You can get an ISBN from Lulu and have a "virtual stock". What that means is that your book will ALWAYS be in stock. Everytime Amazon gets an order for your book, Lulu prints the desired amount of books and only that amount of books. They are then shipped. Hence the term "print on demand". It opens up a lot of doors for authors that weren't there before. If people can learn your name from a POD book, and the book does relatively well, then your chances at getting into a larger, traditional Publisher are increased. An agent or publisher may key on your name and give your work a look faster than if you were Joe or Jane Nobody. Make no mistake. There is still a lot of effort that goes into the creation of any book...even a POD book. And not all POD books are great. Some can be mediocre or even poor. Ultimately your getting noticed is a result of your talent and you willingness to promote yourself. If no one knows about you, know one will buy your work. But POD is a good option for new aspiring authors to get a foot in the door, where before they might have just languished in the dreaded slush pile forever.

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