Monday, February 14, 2011

Hidden Costs of POD

Nothing is ever simple. No newsflash there, but it's true. We all know, as writers, that we're responsible for the publicity of our books. We may not like it, but we accept it. However, when getting the word out starts to eat into the old savings account, it sure makes one long for the days when a writer could just write.


Schlepping your latest novel around to Indie bookstores is taken for granted as the author's responsibility in the promo department. It's not quite that simple. Many bookstores respond with, "Can we have a copy to look over - read - pass around among our employees to get a sense of what the book is about? -


We want to be sure your small press published tome isn't really junk. Maybe you are self-published and this is your own company. Times are tough. We don't want to take a chance.


Writers, at the beginning, may drop off a copy here and there but this eats into any potential for ever earning a buck. If you've commissioned someone to do your art work or paid an editor to ferret out your goofs, add this to the cost of doing business. At some point, you have to say, "No. Sorry, but I can't afford to give away any more books."


I reached that point today. Visited an Indie bookstore in Anacortes, Washington, and they were skeptical. Wanted a copy. I showed them the book. Gave them a business card. The press release. The great reviews. Still, they were unsure. We left it at that. Are they going to pursue my book? Probably not. But honestly, in the hopes of selling one copy, can I afford to donate one to them? To every bookstore that wants to be sure I'm not a whacko off the streets with an overactive printing press in the basement?

What's the answer? Anybody have any ideas?


  1. Yes, POD publishing has its challenges, both for the author and the publisher.
    But - and this is a very big BUT - there are many positive aspects of POD, too.
    Such as the fact that an unknown author has more of a chance to be published with a small press/POD than with a larger so-called more traditional press.
    Also, the author usually gets lots of one-on-one attention from a smaller POD press.
    Yes, the cost of the book may be higher but this is like comparing apples to oranges. Books such as those produced by POD's are considered "trade paperbacks" which is larger than the smaller paperbacks that you see in airports, etc. and the covers are also better quality.
    Yes, marketing is a challenge but chances are a company like Simon & Schuster or Random House isn't going to spend any money on an unknown either. It is still up to the author. And if the first book does poorly, forget a second chance.
    POD may not be for everyone but for those who choose this route, there are many advantages.

  2. I'd like to give a "success story" slant for the POD industry. One of my friends on SheWrites got a book accepted by a POD in Chicago. The book was printed and sent to her and then began the marketing. However, in time, she was contacted by an agent who had seen her book on Amazon. This agent read the book and was able to sell it to a NY publisher -- who in turn, bought the book from the POD. The book will be re-released in the Fall and in this case everybody wins.

    Now, I must add this. I know a couple of NY agents and an editor who works for a big publishing house. These "big guys" just won't spend the needed bucks to promote my friend's book. They put their money on the "well-known" authors. So, as she says, I'm "sort of" back to Square One in some ways. However, the POD can get a writer's book out there -- in print, in eBooks, on Amazon, etc -- and the cost is minimal.

    There ARE many advantages to POD. I know. This is the venue I chose for my own novel!

  3. Thanks for the comments, Joy and Joyce. Getting a discussion going is my motive for blogging in the first place. Next Monday, the Plusses of POD!