My buddy Bill Quain and I are doing a podcast series on behalf of FastPencil.com. It’s called FastPencil Pointers, and you can get it on iTunes or here. As we were preparing next week’s issue, I realized that many people do not know what self-publishing and publish-on-demand are.
Self-publishing: The publishing of a book or books where the author is also the publisher.
Publish-on-demand: The use of print-on-demand equipment to produce books in as small a quantity as one.
Thanks to the Internet and modern printing and binding technologies, it is possible for an author to publish his or her own book without having to invest heavily in large quantities of printed copies and the attendant logistics.
A self-publisher can use a publish-on-demand company for producing the book, or simply have it printed by a traditional book printer.
POD companies often offer additional services to the author, such as ISBN codes; cover design; connection to distributors, like Ingram (who supply bookstores, like Barnes & Noble, Borders, etc.); editing; and more.
The initial POD vendors were not always transparent about the specifics of their service offerings, and sometimes left customers unsatisfied with the value of the “packages” they had bought. Today, competition has forced these firms to be more open about precisely what they do and do not provide. It’s easier for an author to make comparisons than ever before.
I recommend self-publishing to all my authors. If you publish your book yourself, and sell a few thousand copies–and then pitch a major publisher–you will be in a FAR better position to bargain for royalty rates, promotional budgets, intellectual property rights, and more. But frankly, at that point you may ask yourself whether the imprimatur of the major publisher is worth what you may have to give up.
As an author, you will make out better financially if you get a cover designed; get your book printed; and control your own promotion. Now, you may not have the time or the inclination to do those things, and there are plenty of people who will gladly undertake to do them for you; but whichever way you go, you should study the process so that you will understand what you are buying.