Self-publishing online (print-on-demand or vanity press)

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There is much less to write about print on demand (POD) publishers, because once you’ve edited your manuscript, you just hand it over and they do the rest.  In many cases, they will even do the editing for you. Sounds easy, right?  OK, so let’s roll out the caveats, and please keep in mind that I am making generalizations that might not apply to each company or to each of their packages.

First, in most cases, you get what you pay for.  Editing through a POD publisher can be risky; only desperate editors will accept the low pay that most POD publishers pay.

Second, you might or might not like your cover.  It might or might not be any good.  I have seen some great POD covers and some disastrous ones.  Only desperate artists will accept the low pay that most POD publishers pay.

There is more science to typesetting than to covers and editing, so the typesetting that comes with a POD program is usually quite good, as long as you don’t have any complicated special features to incorporate.

POD publishers will usually handle the ISBN number and bar codes just as well as you, no problems there.  In fact, thy might insist on it.

So, as far as setting up your book, my advice would be to get covers and editing done yourself (or see what cover they offer you, and get one done yourself if it sucks), but let them handle typesetting and the ISBN.

The really big advantage of POD publishing is on the distribution end.  Your book typically gets into all the major online stores such as Amazon and without any effort on your part.  It is also usually available to all brick-and-mortar bookstores. 

Be advised that being “available” does not mean that you will actually see the book in stores.  If you plan to do an event in a town or you are doing a media interview in that town, you will still have to contact the bookstores to let them know, and then they might order copies to put on their shelves.

Many POD programs offer a whole series of bells and whistles as upgrades.  Some of these are worthwhile, some less so.  Which ones you want might depend on the nature of your book and what you are willing to do yourself – and which ones are really overpriced (and we have seen some that are quite overpriced).  Here is a list of some upgrades offered.

·         More images allowed.
·         Hard cover edition
·         Copyright registration
·         Extra promotion
·         Higher visibility on the publisher’s site, or in other online bookstores
·         Book signing kit
·         Bookseller return program
·         Google and Amazonbook search programs
·         Press release

·         Video trailers

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