print on demand

Sunday 6th December 2009 11:47pm 1
Pops
Pops
4 Posts

Has anyone tried the print on demand route to self publishing, What has your experience been like?
I have just published my book Star of the Four Kingdoms and have used Lulu. Their rates are very competetive and the end result is good for the amount of money outlaid. It was once regarded as vanity press but in these hard times you could wait forever to have a publisher pick up on you work.
Marketing will always be the handicap to larger volume sales because that is what will eat up the cash when it comes to promoting your work. But having the book in print is the best way to start. Just like youtube it could all blossom by word of mouth until eventually publishers take notice, well thats the theory anyway. I am working hard on promoting my book by spending as little money as possible, out of neccessity because I don't have any, but then again I don't expect to get immediate results and it will take time.

Monday 7th December 2009 10:42pm 2
SM Worsey
SM Worsey
166 Posts

Re. "...but in these hard times you could wait forever to have a publisher pick up on you work."

Surely a publisher will pick up what they think will sell?

Tuesday 8th December 2009 12:28am 3
Tony
Tony
853 Posts

It's not as easy as that, SM. Firstly very few publishers now will even look at unsolicited material - only what is sent to them by an agent. Secondly agents get hundreds of unsolicited work sent to them every week. So that's 52 'hundreds' a year and they will only take on one, or at most, two new authors a year. So while the corollary of what you surmised, SM, is certainly true - they won't pick up what they think won't sell, they will not necessarily pick up what they think will sell - or better maybe, they will not necessarily pick up what they might have thought will sell, had they really taken the time to consider it fully. The truth is, with such a vast number to get through, if they find any reason to reject a m/s, they will, because there are so many more from which to pick a good one - sorry - an absoutely outstanding one. The good ones are left in the slush pile along with all the mediocre and attrocious ones. A good agent will say they can tell from the first paragraph if a book has no potential, certainly by the first page.
How much time a publisher will spend considering self-published books which might appear to be selling, faced with their severe time constraints, I don't know, but I suspect to gain their interest at all, a book would have to be already something of local best seller. I'm sure Pops is right about that.
Good luck with your publicity, pops.

Tuesday 8th December 2009 12:46am 4
Weens
Weens
640 Posts

Yes and good luck from me Pops too. A brave decision.

Thursday 10th December 2009 01:36pm 5
SM Worsey
SM Worsey
166 Posts

Re: "It's not as easy as that, SM."

Just to clarify: I'm concerned about people being exploited and given false hopes by vanity publishers, as they have no incentive to make sure that the books sell, and no incentive to publish only what there is a market for. It strikes me as quite a different thing from self-publishing. Is that an inaccurate/ignorant view?

Thursday 10th December 2009 01:52pm 6
Weens
Weens
640 Posts

Is vanity publishing not self publishing. Now I am officially confused. Would someone please clarify the difference for me please?

Thursday 10th December 2009 02:05pm 7
EmmaD
EmmaD
595 Posts

Pops, it sounds as if you're being realistic about it, so best of luck with it all. You're right, it's hard work, though.

"How much time a publisher will spend considering self-published books which might appear to be selling, faced with their severe time constraints, I don't know, but I suspect to gain their interest at all, a book would have to be already something of local best seller. "

A publisher won't look at a self-published book, and so agents won't, because

a) it's published. They want new books, because they're only interested in first rights, not books which have already been out there.

b) they'll assume you self-published because it was much rejected, and if everyone else has rejected it, then it can't be good enough.

c) experience makes them know - however wrongly in your case - that the vast majority of self-published novels are hopelessly bad in the writing, as well as not proof-read, not copy-edited, and not well designed.

There are good reasons for self-publishing - if you want your granny to read a nice copy, or if it's a book for which there's a solid, niche market which you can easily get at. Non-fiction in a specialist area, for example, or a business book to sell at the seminars you run. But being picked up by a publisher is not one of those good reasons.

If you sell several thousand copies of your book (the vast, vast majority sell under 40,) then it might be a hint to a publisher that there's a market for your next, unpublished book. But they're so prejudiced against self-published books, for very good reasons, that I'd always advise not mentioning till an agent's already saying that they really like your work and can you come in and meet them.

SM, no, you're right: self-publishing, where you act as your own publisher, arranging the editing, proofreading, design, typesetting, printing, warehousing, distribution, marketing, publicity, sales, returns and pulping of your own book, is a perfectly honourable occupation. The online PoD services have made it much easier because you don't have to have big traditional printruns, but the flipside of that is that the unit cost of the book is very high, so the upfront costs are low, but in the long term you're even more unlikely to make any money. But the fact remains that getting anyone beyond your nearest and dearest to buy your novel is incredibly difficult. Why should they?

Vanity publishers, having a bad rep, have taken to calling themselves self-publishers. They also sometimes call themselves subsidy publishers. The similarity is that in all cases, the author pays, ( whereas in proper publishing the author is given money, not asked to shell out.) The difference is that self-publisher knows that they've paid to have a book with their name on it, whereas a vanity/subsidy publisher will tell you that having a book with them will make you a 'published' author, which it won't, because they'll publish whoever comes along. They even try to say that they have some kind of editorial/quality control, which is very unlikely because they don't have the editorial skills. They don't have to worry about making a good book or marketing it, after all, because they make their money from you, the author, not from readers. They'll also try to sell you all the other services - editing, marketing, publicity - which a proper publisher does for free as a matter of course after they've bought your book.

Emma

Thursday 10th December 2009 02:56pm 8
Pops
Pops
4 Posts

It looks like I have stirred up a hornets nest.
Thanks for the comments Emma, I think its a case of Horses for Courses, my health concerns preclude me from waitng for a publisher to pick up on the story and I don't want my son to have the added burden of fulfilling my wishes. Of course I would still like a publisher to pick it up and I hope that I am not naive enough to think that a publisher will think it so marvelous that it will override his business accumen. I know that will only happen if my book astounds some of the publishing houses editorial staff by being commercially viable by selling anywhere near a print run.
There are so few Scottish Lighthouse Keepers left now and fewer with the inclination to write their stories so perhaps within twenty years there will be no one left to tell of our way of life.
At least I have left a legacy of knowledge for future generations to read about what it was like to be a lighthouse keeper.
You never know I might still have time to enjoy some of the fruits of my labour but in the meantime my book will be there for anyone with the interest to read and I will go on writng my poetry to add to my collection.
By the way, not meaning to plug my printer/publisher it costs next to nothing to have a book published. If memory serves me well even their ISBN was free so all you pay for is the books pod
one book cost £4.63 and there are discounts for bulk purchases. They do give you a recommended sale price at which they suggest you do not sell for less otherwise you will get no royalty. Whether that price is too high will depend entirely on the market.

Thursday 10th December 2009 04:50pm 9
SM Worsey
SM Worsey
166 Posts

EmmaD, you've said what I was trying to say, only much more clearly.

Thursday 10th December 2009 05:09pm 10
Debi
Debi
20 Posts

There are so few Scottish Lighthouse Keepers left now and fewer with the inclination to write their stories so perhaps within twenty years there will be no one left to tell of our way of life.
At least I have left a legacy of knowledge for future generations to read about what it was like to be a lighthouse keeper.
You never know I might still have time to enjoy some of the fruits of my labour but in the meantime my book will be there for anyone with the interest to read and I will go on writng my poetry to add to my collection.

That's the best possible justification for self-publishing. My writers' group has just published our first anthology and I can see how much it meant to the contributors (most of whom will - for whatever reason - never be published in any other form) to have a real book to sell/give to family and friends with a proper launch party etc.

Sales are never going to be spectacular and people are realistic about what the book can - and can't - give to them. OTOH, we've already gone well past that 40 mark!

As Emma says, watch out for the unscrupulous people waiting to exploit your dreams and - if possible - get someone to at least proof read (and better still do a proper edit). That way, at least you can be sure the book is as good as it possibly can be. We had a careful multi-layered editing and proof reading process for the anthology to ensure the standard was consistent.

Pops - this is not a hornets' nest, just a reality check. I wish you lots of luck with the book, the poetry and with everything else.

Thursday 10th December 2009 05:18pm 11
EmmaD
EmmaD
595 Posts

Pops, I was just thinking what Debi's just said - that's a classic time when self-pub can really work.

I only put my view in in full because there's so much misinformation flying around about self-pub as the new way to go, fuelled of course by the firms themselves, that I worry about people less clued-up than you...

Emma

Saturday 19th December 2009 11:28pm 12
Mrwriterman
Mrwriterman
1 Posts

Hiya all:
I'm new to speaking on here, but i have just written a zombie/comedy type horror which i am launching on lulu.....
My name is Lee, and i found lulu very helpful when i first used them 2 years ago to make some samples for me. I am now launching the novel with the full ISBN, but i am waiting to see what my samples look like first. If anyone wants to read some sample chapters, then please go to www.leetaylor.me.uk and take a look.
Thanks for reading this,
Lee

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