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JRMurdock
June 21st, 2004, 07:27 PM
I've done a lot of research and I came full circle. I thought I'd share my experience and see what others have to say on the whole deal.

I'd gotten my manuscript rejected and from what I can tell, it was never read and a form letter returned with my mss. I got frustrated as many do. I went looking at all other avenues. Here's what I found and what I did about it.

You can go the POD route. I didn't go this way for a number of reasons. The biggest reason was the price. I wouldn't pay $17 for a 200 page paperback (unless there was great press about it, or a I knew the author). I'm contemplating plunking down $100 to get the books of several authors in this forum, just haven't commited the capitol yet. But this is a rare case. I wouldn't expect my audience to fork over the price of 2 Mass Market Paperbacks. It just seems like too much money. There was also the issue of payment from some of the POD's. The amount they expected up front compared to what I could expect to make per book meant I had to sell a hell of a lot of book in order to see a return on my investment. Plus I needed to have a budget behind me before some even wanted to talk to me.

So I went looking for another route.

I looked at self-publishing. This to me made more sense. I could buy the books myself in mass and store them. I'd ship, I'd register the ISBN, I'd be in 100% control. The cost would be less that $2 per book cost to me and I could sell them at $6.99 or $7.99. That to me was much more reasonable. But I'd still have to have a large capitol investment up front. Nearly double for POD. Plus I'd have to pay shipping, handling, take care of returns, nag book stores for payment, etc. This started out looking good, then the light left my eyes and I was back to where I started.

I then read much more about POD and self-pub and the stigma in the SFF world. With the thousands of people out there getting their books POD'ed, I knew I didn't have much chance of making my book into a success and I'd be doing the publishing for myself.

I'd come full circle at this point. I decided that I wanted to go traditional publishing. I'm still in that frame of mind. Though I think I may aim at the smaller presses. I'm not sure. I'm working on my resume by submitting short stories to every mag I can in the hopes of getting a few published. Once I have a nice list (and I've edited book 1 again) I'll be shipping out my mss. another time or ten. My hope is that by having a list of credientials, my work may get read by the big boys when I submit. At least that's my hope.

I realize I'm only a drop in the bucket as far as the world of authors goes, but I've got to cling to that hope that there is hope. That I've got a shot. That my persistance will, in the end, pay off.

Until that day comes, I'm still monitoring POD and self-pub. This avenue may still have appeal when I've got the $$ in my hand to do it.

So, what is everyone's take on POD and self-pub and what are the general opinions? What are some experiences some have had with either? Do you wait and hope, or do you hoist your head in the air and fly in the face of contemporary publishing with the thought that you'll be one of the few that come out on top?

Holbrook
June 22nd, 2004, 02:47 AM
I could go on and trot out lots of reasons for and against.

You must know that HE and myself went the POD route with Erebus with Seven Threads.

All the arguments, all the this and that aside, one reason I am glad I went that way and it is not about money, not about "getting into print". It is/was something so personal and in a way frightening in the matter of responsiblity for what we write and how we write it, that I am glad we did it.

The book was bought by someone I didn't know. (In fact a number of people I don't know have ;) ) This person took the time to write to me and tell me that something in one of the stories affected them, helped them reason out something in their life.

It was a fictional story, yet something in the way the words were put together touched another human being and helped them make sense of something totally different.

This one thing, this out of the blue event made it all worth while.

ironchef texmex
June 22nd, 2004, 08:30 AM
The problem with POD and self pub. is marketing. Specificially, how do you get anyone to buy the darn book. The only success story I've ever heard was a kid who spent all his time pushing the thing. Guys like us have jobs and families and therefore, less time to become a travelling book expose'.

For me, going POD means that I've given up on the traditional route. And with as many small press guys as there are I'm still a long ways from that. It also means that I've come up with some clever means of self-promotion. I think I'm still a long ways from that as well. :o

Richardb
June 22nd, 2004, 04:00 PM
This is an old, but still good topic. POD is just a means of printing... however it is now synonomous with a go to market strategy. Frankly, a number of quality publishers use POD technology. That being said, most POD is vanity publishing. That is not a bad thing... just a thing. What creates the stigma is that many (most) POD publishers aim to make their money from the signing of authors, not the sellling of books. Xlibris is one example (a large one). Like most of their ilk, you can print anything. You could publish a five hundred page rant against milk cows... they don't care. They make their money on your payment, and the belief that you can get about 20 family members to buy. That is about the average number of copies sold. If you search the site and read samples, it is truly crap. 99% of it anyhow. Gems are hidden there, but digging through all that junk?

The promise of POD is to see a handful of true publishers come to the forefront and offer a few basic differentiators:
1. Select quality manuscripts and reject the dross
2. Provide editing service to ensure quality hits the market
3. Focus on selling books, and only charge what is truly required to balance the business.

I worked with Erebus at Equilibruim for reasons all my own, and found that he fulfilled all three. He does select his works, he does provide editing, and his fees were truly minimal (about $120 US when I did it).

The issue is still cost of books. The technology needs to continue maturing until that is brought down. At that point, a few great publishers in POD could make a name for themselves. It will not hit the brick and mortar needs many may have most likely, due to the financial mechanics of POD runs vs. large standard print runs, but that shouldn't hurt things too bad. It just needs time and the dedication to a few publishers to the hard route. It is just so easy to take that easy $400 for the publishing a few thousand times and call it a good business... with the sad side effect of destroying the potential of this wonderful thing called POD.

I hope that Erebus can hold to quality and selectivity, and others follow suit. It just takes one shining example getting some press, a few authors in the stable winning some awards... and the stigma is gone.

Submit whatever way you want, there are great niches to be filled by all of the methods out there, and none of them are inherently bad. Just understand what you want to achieve and why, and pick the route that serves that.

Spears&Buckler
June 22nd, 2004, 06:30 PM
Please pardon my inexcusable ignorance, but what exactly is a POD publisher?

JRMurdock
June 22nd, 2004, 06:44 PM
Print On Demand. They churn out books and make most of their profit based on you paying them to POD your book. You only make money if you get out there and push push push and of course, they make more money if you do that.

I'm being cynical here. Sorry about that.

Hey Richard, can you send me info on Equilibruim please. URL, e-mail, etc. You're peaked my interest.

Erebus
June 22nd, 2004, 09:14 PM
I hope that Erebus can hold to quality and selectivity, and others follow suit.

Yes, we are of course still doing that, much to the chagrin of some who've had their manuscripts rejected, thinking that just because we may request a small author investment we will print anything. This has never been the case with EQ, nor will it ever. We are still only publishing about 10% of the works that are submitted to us.

Of course, with any POD, I agree that promotion falls largely on an author's shoulders, although we probably do more than many other larger POD companies out there. But the bottom line is that if no one knows who you are they probably won't buy your book - regardless of where it's listed or available for sale. Self-promotion is definitely the key. We make our books available through all the major database services as well as arranging legal deposit with our state and national library, and we do this as part of all our package options.

We'll be the first to admit that we have no funds for any major marketing - that's not what we do, save for the listings and other things we provide as part of our packages. But we do help deserving authors with a quality novel into print. It's as simple as that. We give them the chance to get a foot in the publishing door, which hopefully may lead to future successes with more traditional publishers. However, the success of any book we publish is really largely commensurate with the amount of effort an author is prepared to put in after we've given them this opportunity to reach the world with their words.

Cheers,

Neil

Richardb
June 22nd, 2004, 10:52 PM
http://www.equilibriumbooks.com/intro.htm

I have purchased several books other than my own from Equilibruim, and find them all solid works.