|POD and Self-Publishing
Ah patience, my friend. I have about a million writers I
want you to meet.
Patience is the most effective way to negotiate the
maddening world of writing and publishing.
Self-publishing, for instance, is not something to throw
yourself into even if you have a great book or story to
tell. Be excited, certainly, but then begin that process of
due diligence and check out the necessary steps you must
pass through to execute the deed successfully.
The phenomenal growth of print-on-demand (POD) publishing
indicates a very strong market of writers who want to get
published. It may directly challenge the traditional print
system in the years to come but that is for the future to
I have some ornery opinions about it at The Digital Writer.
Is it merely vanity publishing spelled differently?
It can turn out that way. A writer needs to assess
the material she has and make strategic decisions on whether
to try and publish it through traditional channels or do it
herself. If you are going to publish through regular
channels you still need to do a lot of preparation like
researching publishers and agents, preparing book proposals,
establishing some idea of how the book will be marketed, and
so forth. There are horror stories in traditional as well as
"Personal publishing and short-run production of books aimed
at specialized target audiences are among the fastest-growing
parts of the book publishing market, according to Frank
Romano, a printing industry expert and professor emeritus at
Rochester Institute of Technology. "Approximately 30 percent
of book titles are now printed in quantities less than 100,
and that could reach 50 percent by 2010, Romano points out."
From Business Wire 9/13/05
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Are you ready to do some of the following tasks?
- Designing the cover of the book.
- Getting an ISBN
- Copyright registration
- Library of Congress card number
- Bar code
- Prepare a marketing plan with names and numbers of all
possible connections that will help you promote the book.
- Fulfill orders that may come in.
Remember that mistakes in self-publishing can leave a lot of
good intentions in the dust as precious money and time
trickle down into the good Earth.
So, be prepared.
Tools and technology are just that. The intention of the
mind and spirit using those tools is the key.
A skeptic will say that POD is useless because one person
can't possibly do all the things a publisher can do unless
the writer spends the same type of money and expertise on
promotion, production value, editing and the like. So why
not allow the traditional publishing system sift out the
good from the bad?
But that presupposes that a person would self-publish
for the same reason a person would try and publish a book in
mainstream publishing. There are many motives for writing
and publishing. For instance, any literary writer who is
innovative should do as much self-publishing as he can, as
James Joyce did seventy years ago or so.
Another reason would be if you had an idea before the
mainstream has caught up with it and need to fix the idea in
some form and build on the idea. Self-publishing, in this case,
would be the way to go.
It's becoming popular to write family histories, war tales,
and cookbooks using self-publishing. It gets the ball
rolling in the right direction. If the ball is picked up by
another publisher great; if not, you have produced something
And remember that, now, writers are operating in a system of
many platforms. The platforms don't necessarily compete,
though it feels like it at times. The platforms attract
different audiences. Remember that.
Still, the very worst thing you can do is rush the book into
print under the pulse of adrenaline that it will solve a
multitude of personal dilemmas.
POD, especially, is a tempting route but you will be
disappointed unless you have some marketing plan, do
rigorous editing, and think about the cover before the last
The innovative writers of today are going to make it much
easier for this new literary system to mature and get
efficient. It will benefit writers and readers beyond
The more I research this area, the more I see creative,
intelligent people creating networks and seeding the new
literary system in very interesting ways. It means that any
new or creative idea struggling to survive in the market
will have a greater chance of success.
Beyond that, a knowledge of self-publishing prepares the
writer for a publishing career, traditional or not. Knowing
what needs to happen to take a manuscript from
a raw state to a finished one is an antidote to the ways and
means a writer can get ripped off in the publishing world.
Knowledge is power. It's ugly to see how many businesses
exist because of the ignorance of people.
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P O D R e s o u r c e s
ForeWord Magazine reviews independently published books
Small publishers, artists, and writers network
OnDemand Book printers and eBook companies from John Kremer,
A self-publishing blog by Stephen Weber
Before going into POD I'd recommend listening to this podcast
of interviews with some of the CEO's of POD publishers. Is
it simply vanity publishing in new clothes? Well, all
publishing is a kind of vanity, the question is what
benefits do all the parties get.
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