Proud of being a POD Person - print-on-demand, that is

How much stigma is attached to publishing with a print-on-demand press? I've realized the stigma may be greater than confessing to a psychiatric diagnosis (in my case, bipolar disorder). But I believe that's changing rapidly, and that traditional publishers are stuck in the last Millennium. What do you think?

Personally, I'm delighted to have published two mysteries POD. I'd say more, but I've already been online far too long today, and I encourage you to read my thoughts elsewhere. My garden is calling and in need of a drink.

Julie Lomoe's Musings Mysterioso

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Oh, yeah, regardless of how you get published, it's up to the author to market. No question.

I'll get a blog post to you as soon as possible.

I go through this all the time, too, because two of my three publishers use POD technology. All are advance/royalty paying traditional publishers. And yet when I recently updated my Sisters in Crime Books in Print page, I had to beg the SinC board to include those PODs in the printed BinP version because one of their criteria of professionalism is that that the publisher print at least 1000 books. A POD from a traditional publisher is still being treated, in some quarters at least, like a self-pub.

There are pluses and minuses to PODs. As a bookseller in AZ, I can't get a POD Lightning Source title fast, because it has to be printed in TN, and then shipped all the way to AZ by UPS Ground. That can easily take 1 1/2 weeks; sometimes more. If we have to order a POD title for an event, we can't do it on the same schedule that we usually use for pre-printed books. That's a pain because we have a system. In a store that hosts lots of events every month, ordering for those events requires a lot of work. Anything that deviates from that creates more work, and provides an opportunity for something to fall between the cracks. But there are advantges, too. The publisher of my Tracy Eaton mysteries is putting the first chapter of the next book at the end of each of the titles. When he reprinted DEM BONES' REVENGE, my forthcoming title, REVENGE FOR OLD TIMES' SAKE, hadn't yet been edited. The editor then suggested a new first chapter before the existing one. Since I liked the idea, I asked the publisher how that could work, since he'd already included the old first chapter in his publication of DBR. He said he'd simply change it after I revised it, and some copies of DBR would be printed out with the old first chapter, while some would have the new first chapter. That's provides great flexibility.

Great story, Kris! And another good reason to keep a stash of books on hand, just in case . . .
This is a really great comment, Kris - very informative. I hadn't realized Sisters in Crime had this particular requirement for 1,000 copies in print, but they did hassle me about being included in their printed Books in Print. I used to be there, but now I'm only on their web site. That requirement is really antiquated, not to mention environmentally heedless! When both my mysteries came out on Virtual Bookworm, I ordered 100 copies for myself, and I can order more as needed. I've had people order them directly from Amazon and from Virtual Bookworm online (or rather, they've ordered them without my even knowing), and nobody's complained about the time lag. There's no longer a need for warehousing thousands of books (except for the top sellers).

Granted a time lag might be problematic in some circumstances, but that can happen with "traditional" publishers too, or with small presses masquerading as traditional. I have a friend who published with a small press who promised books in time for Malice Domestic, where she was on a panel. They didn't come through, and lately they haven't been paying royalties or returning phone calls. So in these changing times, it's "buyer beware." I heard someone on a panel somewhere say that with the ease of the new technology, small presses spring up like mushrooms in the lawn after a rainy spell, and disappear just as quickly.

Could I quote your comment on my blog this week? I get an average of 50 readers a day, so it might be worth your while. Same goes for other Crimespace writers here.

Julie Lomoe's Musings Mysterioso
Hi Kris, I quoted you on my blog last week in Wednesday's post. I was going to let you know and insert a link to you in my blog, but I couldn't find your website or blog info if any on CrimeSpace. Can you go check my blog and leave your contact information? I'd be glad to edit the post so as to include it.

Julie Lomoe's Musings Mysterioso
POD technology is only cheaper on very small runs. Printing 500,000 James Paterson's for the first bookstore drop is WAY WAY cheaper on a big press. Even 25,000 for a new Nancy Pickard. If you consider the total number of books sold (lots of Paterson's), and how important they are to publishing profits, I'm guessing any big shift to POD is way off.
You're right, Jack. I'm wondering where the break-even point is. Does anybody know? I'd love to jump into the big print-run category, but I won't get suicidal if I don't. And for me, that's a major factor!
Yeah Jack, I agree that a big shift is a long time off unless some new gizmo gets invented that makes it economically feasible, but for second and third runs POD is beginning to look pretty viable.
Really, Jack? Because it seems to me to make sense that publishers might continue to use traditional press for those who have proven themselves but to use POD for those newer authors who are still finding an audience. It's not only cheaper but greener (less returns means less paper used, less gas used in the shipping yada yada). Just my two cents.
Amen, Christine! POD is a godsend for new authors. It gives the little guys a fighting chance to get our foot in the proverbial door, sales and distribution-wise, that is.
I don't think we're disagreeing. POD works great for a few hundred or a few thousand books: All of us new authors now get a better chance. I agree. Self-publishing gets bigger and bigger, and smaller presses can get started easier. But a handful of writers like Paterson, Koontz, and King account for some huge percentage of all fiction sales. These guys -- who our publishers all want us to become -- will never use POD technology. You have to get hundreds of thousands of books all over the country on the same day. So much cheaper to print that kind of quantity in one run. A fraction of POD's expense.

I'm saying POD may well keep growing, but it can't become the primary method of printing books.
"... who our publishers all want us to become..."

You know, you can talk to them about this. When Harcourt "merged" with Houghton Miflin and I had to go looking for another publisher one of the most important things to me was what expectation the publisher had for my books. If the publisher talked about those kinds of huge sales (and a couple did) I knew it wasn't a good fit for me because that would mean making a lot of changes to the content of books - which the publishers did admit would be necessary. Or, there would be a lot of disappointment when I failed to make those kind of sales and I didn't want that, either.

But things like this new technology make it possible for publishers to take a chance on someone like me who will never be a mega-seller, but might produce steadily.


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