Do you think a POD publisher will ever create a Best Seller?

We've dicussed POD publishing with some interest. Now here's a question to ponder. Can a POD publisher produce a novel that will crack the Top 10 list in the Best Sellers column? Frankly, I think one can if they are willing to at least do one or two things the more traditional publisher does to get books out onto shelves. What do you think?

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Chances are good that they don't have the money. In other words, it's not so much the book (though you do have to have some sort of hook to catch the attention of the masses) but rather the publicity the book gets. And most of that is costly.
I can see that, I.J. But I'm wondering if there's not one or two POD publisheres are out there who have the rescources to take on the challenge.
Most of them can't get in bookstores, let alone a bestseller list.
Also, no newspaper, PW, Kirkus, or LJ reviews for POD and self-published books.
Naomi--did it make the Best Seller's list as a self-published book? Or was it picked up by a traditional publisher and then make the list?
One already has, with "The Shack." It's published by Windblown Media (the company name of the authors' self-publishing company -- they haven't done any deal I know of with a major publisher), and started POD but soon went offset as demand spiked. The costs worked out better for the volume dictated by demand. But there's no major publisher involved. It's sold over 1 million copies. Does this qualify? They changed from POD to offset due to demand and the economies of scale. I think it counts.

Bestseller lists tend to operate off gross sales. If they operated off net sales, I think you'd see some serious reshuffling, and POD publishers would look better.

And an increasing number of former bestsellers are moving or will move to POD once they're in the "long tail." Would that qualify? (No, but you see my point.)
I'm not really sure The Shack was ever POD, though I could be wrong on that. I do know that it started distribution, as a regular paperback, from a co-author's garage. The word of mouth spread through religious channels, it got picked up before long by major distributors such as Ingram and Amazon, and then outlets such as B&N and Borders, and the book was soon widely available. Then several months ago, it was picked up by Hachette as a co-pub deal, and their marketing muscle was put behind it, too. So, whether it was ever POD or not, it achieved its actual bestsellerdom by more traditional means.
Neil--I think that's the 'norm' for Pod self-published books. Christopher Paolini's fantasy novel 'Eragon' started out that way.
Started out as self-published, yes. But it wasn't till Knopf bought and published it that it became a bestseller.
It's going to be hard-- if people hear about the book, they may not be able to find it at their local bookstore or library. Few POD publishers have their books in either. Since POD books are often more expensive than their commercially published (offset) counterparts, this is another prohibitive factor. A book would have to have really good word-of-mouth to get a bunch of people to pay for a book they're not likely to be able to skim before purchase. (As for bookstore orders, some POD companies have such a bad reputation, that bookstores are requiring that special orders be purchased first... because authors of some of those books would order the books, then never pick them up as their plan to get the books on the bookshelf.)

It's possible for a POD book to reach the bestseller list. Non-fiction with a solid platform has a better chance. And nearly all self-published or POD books that do become bestsellers do so AFTER they've been picked up by a larger traditional publishing house. The commercial houses have the marketing and, more importantly, distribution. I can walk into any bookstore in the country-- not just those in an area where the author lives-- and I've got a decent chance of finding the book on the shelf. Or perhaps I walk into the grocery store, and it's there. Or I can find it at the library.

The easier a book is to find, the easier it is to sell. Maybe, I see this book. I've heard about it from a couple people. I see the cover. Looks interesting. I pass it buy a couple times. But that cover, or maybe the back cover, or the first few pages are interesting. Maybe, a couple passes, and I buy it.

So, it's possible. It's also possible to win the lottery.
The answer is a resounding yes.

The current publishing model is not sustainable. Look for many traditional publishers to switch to a POD scheme in the years to come. It makes the most financial sense. Even if it takes 25 years, this will happen.
I think it will eventually happen, but frankly, I think it will be because an author with significant name power gets mad about something and decides to go the POD route with his/her next book.


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