Write It, Work It, Publish It™

Questions abound regarding Print on Demand (POD) self-publishing or equity publishing. Here is a breakdown of the pros and cons that I received from a newsletter that answer these probing questions we writers face.

What Works for You?

Dianne Morr of Illinois asked the following: “Everyone seems to have an opinion on whether POD is better than self-publishing or equity publishing. Which is your preference?”

Great question, Dianne! First, for any newcomers, POD is “Print on Demand.” Many companies, both domestically and internationally (namely, Canada) offer this service, all with slightly different requirements, services and costs. POD is for anyone needing only a few copies of a book.

Essentially, you send your manuscript to a POD publisher, they do the design and digital layout, then print whatever number of copies you wish. Copies are printed on large, automated copiers using toner, not on a press using ink.


•You become a “published” author without finding a traditional publisher
• The POD company can use their ISBN, saving you the cost
• Purchase one book or 100, as often as you like
• Some POD’s provide limited sales and distribution services
• Costs are minimal, perhaps less than $20 per copy, depending on page count
• You don’t have a garage full of unsold books


• Your cost per book will be greater than if you self-publish, likely forcing your book’s retail price point too high to compete with similar books. This becomes a real problem if you must further discount your wholesale price for a distributor (typically 55%)
• The print quality may not be as good as traditional book printing
• Editing and proofing quality can suffer if you do not hire a professional or pay the POD publisher extra for that service Self-publishing is self explanatory. You do it all or you hire the people required to edit, design, layout, and make your book “printready” with the correct digital files. You locate a printer, pay for whatever number of copies you need—or can afford.


• You become a “published” author without finding a traditional publisher
• You have complete control over the process
• You get books at the lowest cost possible, allowing you to set a competitive price-point and afford distributor discounts


• You must have sufficient upfront funds since you will pay for everything
• You must print several hundred to several thousand copies to get a decent price break
• You must purchase your ISBN number
• You need storage space
• If you don’t have a strong marketing plan and waiting markets, you need storage space for a long time
• You are responsible for all distribution
• If your book doesn’t sell quickly, your money is tied up in storage
• You can’t write-off the cost of your books (inventory) as a an expense on your taxes until they are sold For cost, equity publishing falls between POD and self-publishing. Programs differ, but essentially, you pay for a portion—and the portion can vary—of getting your book published. You generally get some kind of agreement to distribute or sell your books.


• Someone else will do a predetermined amount of work to get your book published
• You may get more sales and wider distribution than with POD or self-publishing
• The cost should be less than self-publishing Cons:
• You are subsidizing the publishing costs
• You may not get all you expect from sales, marketing and distribution—read the contract carefully and understand it thoroughly

There are more pros and cons for all three; for some, a con can easily be a pro and visa versa. To answer Dianne’s question about our preference between the three, we would easily go with the self-publishing. The reason is because as seasoned authors who have residual funds to cover all the costs involved, plus contacts with distributors and the media (remember, even if you go with a traditional publisher, you still have to promote your books), we are comfortable in this role.

Our bailiwick is traditional publishing, with self-publishing as a secondary source. We have never utilized POD or equity publishing. But what about you? We recommend you do your research! Know your skills and what work you can do yourself; know your personal needs and expectations; decide how much you can spend in both time and money; know exactly what will be expected from you to complete the project; know exactly what you will get, how much it will cost, and when you will get it; ask for advice from those who have gone before you; carefully weigh all your options, then make your decision and go for it!

Please note, I take no credit for this article. This Q&A extract was taken from the Wow Principles e-newsletter that was published by Publishing Syndicate Editor: Ken McKowen, info@PublishingSyndicate.com and has not been altered.


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