Print on demand book publishers:
How do I pick the right one?

Finding a print on demand book publisher is easy. Print on demand publishers are as numerous as bees on a honeysuckle bush . . . simply poke your manuscript out the window, rattle a few pages in the breeze, and the POD folks will come buzzing in.

But I'm a guy who makes decisions by

  • scooping up as much information as I can
  • weighing it all carefully
  • then making a choice based on a rational analysis of the facts.

(Yeah, that obsession with research bugs me, too. It's a residual imprint of too many years in grad school . . . and my early training in journalism.)

No matter. Right now, I'm overwhelmed. I'm still reeling from all the articles that warn me away from print on demand book publishers.

But at least I found a good place to begin. Read "Print-on-Demand Publishing Services" in the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America writer beware section of the SFWA website. It offers a good overview of print on demand publishing. Take a look at it:

"Print-on-Demand Publishing Services": writer beware

OK, with that warning in mind, let's pull together a list of what to look for in comparing print on demand book publishers. Here's my first crack at it:

  • basic package costs: what will it cost us to turn our manuscript into a book? . . . And what exactly do we get for our money?
  • necessary add-ons: usually the basic package doesn't include everything we want. What other fees will we have to pay?
  • contract terms: what exactly are we signing up for? Is the contract clear, i.e. written in plain English? Is it fair?
  • distribution: who's going to sell our book? Will the print on demand book publisher distribute the book? How?
  • control over our book: do we own the rights? Which rights . . . to the text format? To the cover design? To the text itself? Do we have final approval of the book design? Of the cover design?
  • book retail price: how much will our readers have to pay to buy our book? Is that price competitive in today's market?
  • author's book price: what do we have to pay to buy copies of our own book?
  • royalties: how much do we get paid for each book the publisher or other distributors sell?

Enough already. Let's think about these questions . . . do some more research . . . refine the list. . . see what I've left out . . . and what I need to expand on. Then we'll build a definitive checklist.

Next time: Don't click that link yet: The blitz from the self publishing companies.

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