Print On Demand--The Tempting Siren of the Publishing Business
by Denise Weinstein
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Print On Demand: no rejection, none of the wait, and the price is
reasonable. It sounds like a good idea for the inexperienced writer, doesnít
it? Well, as anyone who has ever been published by a POD service provider can
tell you, there is no gold at the end of this apparent rainbow. I am a
survivor. About three years ago I finished my first novel. For various reasons,
I decided that instead of trying my luck and wasting away my time with a
traditional publisher, I would take the road less traveled and get published
POD. I went through their channels and was ecstatic to find out that for a few
hundred dollars I could print my book my way, without some editor telling me
what needed to be changed. I was such a rank amateur that I took offense at the
mere idea of some stuffy old man picking my book apart and telling me that it
was no good. With a POD I would even be able to design my own book cover and
keep the original working title. I did a little bit of work polishing up my
manuscript and submitted it. You wouldnít possibly believe how happy I was to
see my book in print. I practically wet my pants.
Well, that happiness didnít last long, I assure you. My POD company promised
me that theyíd promote my book. They didnít. They said my book would be
available online. It was, but since I was the only person pushing my book,
sales hovered in the single digits for a year. Thatís right, less than ten
copies were sold online. When I looked into getting my book in local bookstores
I found out the hard way that POD books are too expensive for small bookshops.
A distributor wonít ever touch one. All of this boils down to one simple fact:
my book didnít sell.
For a while I was angry with myself for being so stupid. After some time had
passed I just wrote it off as a valuable life lesson and started on my second
book. Three years later and I am a professional screenwriter and part-time
novelist. I recently picked up a copy of my first book and reread it. That
turned out to be an arduous task. My book was unpolished, under-edited, and it
suffered some serious flaws. I could hardly believe my eyes when I saw how bad
that book was. I wonít even tell you the name of it out of sheer embarrassment.
And thatís how I feel: embarrassed that I could be so green as to think that my
first book couldnít be improved with some editing and polishing. I literally
shake my head and stare at the ground when I think about it. Well, at least I
learned my lesson, and hopefully I can pass that lesson on to some future
writers. Donít be tempted by print on demand services. Work on your book until
itís ready, and then submit it to a real publisher. If no one picks it up, try
again. And again, and again, and againÖSomeday youíll find a publisher thatís
willing to take a chance on you. I did.
Denise Weinstein is the author of three novels and has worked as a
screenwriter in Hollywood for almost two years. Her latest novel will be
published by White Paper, Black Ink Press. Their website can be found at www.traditionalpublishing.com
Copyright© 1999, 2000, 2001, 2002 Denise Weinstein, sffworld.com. All rights reserved. No part of this may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the author.