Why Print-on-Demand is the Right Choice

podpublicityAs a writer there are certain accomplishments that feel like no other and having a book published is certainly one of them. There is nothing so gratifying as holding your own book in your hands and the satisfaction of knowing that others will be reading your work. Years ago, many thought that the only respectable route to achieve that accomplishment was to have your manuscript accepted by a traditional publishing house. For many, that would only ever be a dream.

Sure, there was self-publishing, but it was viewed as an alternate route. Many perceived it poorly and saw it as the last resort of authors who had tried the traditional way of publishing and failed. Little did they realize that self-publishing is actually an excellent first choice for authors. It would take time before self-publishing would finally gain a certain amount of respect and people would begin to see the benefits that it has to offer.

As technology advanced the world of self-publishing also evolved. Self-publishers formerly had to hire a printer and have thousands of dollars worth of books printed in the hope that they would earn back their investment. This was quite a gamble that didn’t pay off for many. Now, however, self-publishers can have their book in print with a minimal investment thanks to print-on-demand. Many, however, now have the same poor opinion of print-on-demand that self-publishing formerly suffered. The naysayers, however, haven’t stopped to realized just how beneficial print-on-demand can be for those hoping to have their title published.

Even today, some might wonder why an author wouldn’t just try to go the traditional route and opt for print-on-demand when all else fails. Well, there are two very excellent reasons why authors should avoid both the traditional publishing route and standard self-publishing in favor of print-on-demand. Those two reasons are control and profit.

Let us first examine why print-on-demand trumps the traditional publishing houses. If you go the print-on-demand route, then you will remain in complete control of your title. Can you say the same thing if you sell your manuscript to a publishing house? For example, if a traditional publishing house feels that sales of your title are languishing, then they have every right to cease publishing your title. Alternatively, as a print-on-demand publisher your title will never go out of print unless, for some reason, you decide to stop selling it. Also, the royalty that you will receive from a publishing house will be a pittance compared to the amount of money that you receive on the sale of each title as a POD publisher.

Now, what about standard self-publishing? Why should you choose print-on-demand instead. The answer is easy. With print-on-demand the investment required to get started is minor compared to self-publishing. As was mentioned, to begin self-publishing you would have to invest thousands of dollars in inventory. That is not the case with print-on-demand. Also, as a self-publisher you have to handle distribution. Conversely, print-on-demand companies deal with all of those headaches for you. Those are just two of the many reasons why print-on-demand is so much more attractive than going the standard self-publishing route.

When all of the pros and cons are examined print-on-demand really is a no lose option for authors who want to see their book in print.

(Excerpted from POD Publicity: How to Take a Print-on-Demand Book From Obscurity to Profitability)


  1. egtalbot says

    I certainly don’t share the traditional disdain of self-publishing and I may go this route myself. However, I would take issue with the statement that the royalty will be a pittance of what you would get from a publishing house. Let’s look at the three least expensive self-publishing options – CreateSpace, Lulu, and LSI. LSI technically requires that you be a “publisher” and their technical challenges may be too high for many, but we’ll include them.

    So you have a 300 page paperback – a standard first novel. You can’t sell that thing for over ten bucks unless you want to hurt sales. Possibly you could choose a 6×9 or 7×10 Trade Paperback format, but several of the small publishers I have spoken with have suggested that over ten bucks makes a big difference in sales.

    You’re gonna pay at least 4 bucks for the POD printing per book. That leaves you with a potential profit of $6. But where are most POD books sold nowadays? The answer is Amazon. Certainly you can pretty much assume you won’t get your POD book in any stores you don’t visit personally. If you choose CreateSpace, Amazon takes a $4 cut of your $10 book. If you choose one of the other two, the cut is over $5.

    So your profit per book is really not much more than with a traditional publisher. Now, you may suggest several things to counter this problem:

    1.Raise the price of your book. For non-fiction that might work. For fiction, unless you already have a decent audience, you will be hurting yourself.

    2.Try to get sales either in person or on your own web site. Not a bad option and has some potential. That’s a lot of legwork when you should be writing, though. Yes, you’re gonna have to promote your work, but ideally you leave fulfillment to someone else.

    Now, I haven’t even mentioned the cost of hiring an editor, cover designer, and layout person. Layout is the easiest to learn of these three, but I suspect 90%+ of authors are incapable of doing a professional quality book cover. YOu will have to pay someone or have an obviously inferior product. And editing – look, there are plenty of mediocre editing jobs done by big publishers. But you simply cannot copyedit your own book effectively. Maybe you can find someone to do it for free – trade chores with another offer. But copyediting is a different skill than writing.

    Bottom line, if you haven’t spent $500 to hire people to get your book done right, you are either part of a tiny percentage of authors who have the necessary skills or you have an inferior product. So how many books do you have to sell to make that up?

    There are plenty of reasons to self-publish, but bigger profits most assuredly are not one of them for a new writer of fiction.

  2. says

    Thank you for the article. I think we’re in a time of change, very much thanks to the Internet. In some ways, producing a book becomes similar to managing a website.

    We’re a small Buddhist publisher and we set up our own publishing organisation in order to be able to publish our books. We also turned to POD because it allowed us to publish with lower overheads.

    The editing and design process is still the same. The part that we miss with not being with a major publisher is publicity/marketing.