You say the word POD to some folks and they wrinkle their nose.  Why?  There is a long standing bias against Vanity publishing and along the way the term POD and vanity publishing became intertwined. 

What is the difference?

Vanity Publishing occurs when a company charges a client to publish a book; or offers to include short stories, poems or other literary material in an anthology and then invites those included in it to buy a copy of that anthology.  Today, with such a bad reputation, they generally call themselves subsidy publishers, joint venture publishers, etc…  Vanity publishers put themselves in charge of your publication process. 

Vanity Publishing is not self publishing.

When you self publish, and utilize a company to print your book, you are in charge.  You determine how your book appears, how many copies are printed, where you sell the book and for how much.

Unlike Vanity Publishing, self publishing has a long standing and respected history.  In fact, 78% of books sold come from small and self-publishers. Self-publishing is a viable means of publishing.  Mark Twain, Richard Nixon, L.Ron Hubbard, John Grisham, Henry David Thoreau, and even Edgar Allen Poe have self-published.           

You might be familiar with these self-published book titles: "What Color is Your Parachute?", "The Celestine Prophecy", "The One Minute Manager", and most recently the children's fiction book "Eragon," which was picked up by a major publisher.  The movie rights were sold and the young author is well on his way to fortune and fame.

POD Understood

POD can stand for either Print on Demand or Publish on Demand. 

Print on Demand makes it possible for you to print your books one at a time as they book is ordered.  Your book, including your cover, is set up as a digital file. When an order is received, your book is printed.  With print on demand companies there is generally a set-up cost, which covers setting up the file in the system, and a small annual charge for keeping it there. Print on demand has made it possible for many to self publish without breaking the bank because it has made the overall cost of producing a book substantially lower than traditional printing methods.

How to tell the difference.

Standard Publishers do not:

  • Advertise for manuscripts
  • Ask you to finance the cost of your own book
  • Sell or market your book
  • Ask you to buy the anthology that your story or book is published in.

POD companies:

Print your book.  That’s it.  You pay them to print your book as orders come in.  It differs from traditional printing in that with traditional printing you pay for and print books in batches.  POD can cost more per book to print, but you invest less in the printing at the beginning. It can be a good solution for the first time self publisher.

POD companies can also offer complimentary services like editing, graphic design, and distribution services. 

Self publishing is a viable, respectable, and financially lucrative method of publishing.  Don’t let any potential confusion about your publishing options stop you before you get started.

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