The introduction of Print on Demand publishing sparked a bit of a revolution in the publishing industry. Writers no longer need to be at the mercy of editors and publishing houses, earning only tiny portions of the sales their hard work actually generates.
What is Print on Demand?
Print on demand is not a publishing style. Rather it’s a form of technology that allows the printer to create limited runs of a book that you’ve created.
Print on Demand simply means that the printer creates only as many copies of your book as you’ve ordered. Computer technology effectively replaced the old type-setting blocks that used to be the standard in publishing so that writers are now able to take control of their own publication careers.
Before the advent of Print on Demand (POD), writers who wanted to self-publish had to pay for large print-runs of books that they would often need to store in garages or spare rooms until they’d sold. Using POD means that you only need to order as many books as you’ve sold. This saves you time, money and storage space!
Why Should Writers Self-Publish?
The traditional method of publication was to write a novel, submit it to a publisher and then wait 6 or 12 months for the editor to decide if they would accept or reject it. If they accepted it, the book would go into a large print run of usually 10,000 and get shipped out to stores.
The writer got offered a contract that promised that they’d get paid 5% or 10% of the sale price of the book in the stores. If the book didn’t sell well within a few short months, then the book was withdrawn from sale and the writer would usually not get offered a new contract to write anything else.
This is a harsh way for any talented writer to make a living, but self-publishing changes the rules.
When you self-publish, you’re self-employed. You’re in control of all the profits – not just a tiny percentage of them – and you’re in charge of marketing and sales. By using Print on Demand technology to have your book printed, it means that you only have to print as many books as you have orders for.
Writing Your Book
Always be sure you’ve written and edited the complete manuscript before you send it out to your Print on Demand publisher. Many newer writers tend to send out incomplete manuscripts that haven’t been edited to check for typing errors or plot problems.
This might not seem like such a big thing when you’re excited about finally finishing your manuscript, but your readers will notice. Word of mouth is vitally important to a self-published author.
Visit some of the professional writing sites available to learn how to edit your work on your own properly without having to pay exorbitant fees to a proof-reader.
How To Self-Publish
There are plenty of reputable print-on-demand publishers available, all willing to allow writers to publish their own books. Always check that the company you choose has a good reputation with the writers who have already used them.
Some POD companies, such as Lulu or Booklocker, will create an ISBN (International Standard Book Number) for you as part of the printing service they provide. If you don’t want them to have control over who owns your ISBN, you can register your own at isbn.org
Check and double check the formatting guidelines your print on demand publisher expects. There’s no point sending in a manuscript that is incorrectly formatted. After all, your printer will only create what you send them. It’s important that you get your formatting right before it goes into print.
Creating a Cover
If you know someone who is great with graphic design and you can have your own cover created, then this can help you enormously. Paying a print on demand company to hire a graphic designer for you can get a little expensive, but it’s still a better option than trying to create something yourself.
Remember, your self-published book could be listed on sites like Amazon or Barnes and Noble, so you’ll want it to look as professional as possible.
Print on Demand vs. Vanity Press
Learn the difference between self-publishing and vanity press. A true self-publishing print on demand publisher will always be clear about you keeping your own rights to your work. You control the content and the cover art. You control the sales and pricing.
A vanity press is where you pay a company to publish your work for you and then you only receive a percentage of the sales price back in return. This arrangement is NOT the same as self publishing through print on demand and can actually compromise your rights to your own work.
Marketing Your Self Published Book
If you decide to self publish, you’re not just in charge of writing and creating the book. You’re also in charge of sales and marketing too. The first place most writers think of selling their book is in a book store.
Unfortunately, the vast majority of bookstores and chains won’t stock self-published books. However, you might be surprised to find that more books are sold outside of bookstores anyway.
It’s possible to list your books for sale on your own website, but unless you have some serious visitors to your site, you might find your book sells a little slowly. Your POD publisher might have a great bookstore listing right on their own website that will happily list your book for sale there.
Submit your book to book review sites. Many readers will only buy books after they’ve read a recommendation and a little teaser about what the book’s about.
Finding a way to get the large online bookstores to list your book can be a great benefit to your marketing efforts. Submit your book to Amazon, Barnes and Noble or any other online bookstore you can think of to help increase your exposure.
Self publishing can be an incredibly rewarding way for any writer to realize the dream of being published. You not only get to hold your finished book in your own hand, but you might also find that the freedom of creativity you have along with the control over the potential profits is second to none.