Kim Weiss Publishing Services

Publish, POD, print your own or perish?

September 24, 2008 at 5:00 am
ah...smell the ink

ah...smell the ink


There are all your “p” choices, and believe me, I find it hard to keep up with this stuff.

To publish. To print-on-demand (POD) or to print on your own. Dying is really not necessary.

Today’s post is a very abbreviated overview of how these routes differ. Surely, you and I will both require more sleuthing. Especially before any decisions are made.


That which relies on the acceptance of an enclave of people who think they know what readers want. They take you on, they foot the bill. Unless you are very clever at contract time, they take charge of your timeline, your title, your cover, some direction of your content, your promotional campaign, your destiny. You get a buck or two for every book sold. You may have to wait a few publishing cycles for your book to be born, but you have no cash outlay (except for the hidden suggestions that you really should be proactive in marketing your book. Proactive translation: expensive)

If you get a big fat advance, remember, all that money needs to be made by the sales of your book before you see any more of it.


You hire a company to act as your publisher but you pay them. Hey, what? It’s true, but you retain some semblance of control as you employ them. They do all of the front end fussing like getting you an ISBN number, designing your book, choosing the paper, and they even offer some promotional packages (that’s extra) or a la carte services. What do you get? Books when you want them, no warehousing woes, limited distribution (be careful here, this can be misleading), and some help along the way if you need it. Beware, the company OWNS your ISBN number and your files. You are bound to them. Can’t just pick up your files and take them down to the neighborhood printer. And, the unit price for POD printing is pretty high. Hard to  profit this way.

Printing on your own:

I kind of like this option. We even have a division that does this at HCI. There something a little more freeing about it. You get total artistic license, you are the master of your own castle. Hire your own editors, proof readers, researchers, whatever you need. Take your finished manuscript, download it into some “Quark” or “InDesign” or other file and turn it over to some master printers. The more you print, the cheaper the unit price is. So, whatever you sell it for, once you get the money, everything but your investment goes into your pocket. True, you now need to investigate fulfillment houses and think about marketing your book. That’s where people like me come in – hee – hee! All kidding aside, at this phase you either become not only a self-published author but a self-marketer, too. Or, seriously, you can hire any number of very talented people to help you promote your book. For both the POD and this route, getting books distributed into stores is a little tricky. It can happen, but it’s hard. Trust me, distribution is hard even for the big league publishers.

So, if you’re an author who does a lot of lectures, special events, or have an online presence, you may have plenty of opportunity to sell books this way. This is really one of the primary secrets to the legendary Chicken Soup for the Soul success. The old selling books in the back of the room routine. It just so happened they had a publisher. The same can be done if you don’t.

If you’re just a woodshed writer waiting to be discovered and handled, these are not for you. 

Whatever your publishing scenario is, at least now there is a bigger variety of choices. And, the alternate publishing routes are gaining more respect and credibility all the time. Just be sure to do your homework, always ask to see samples of a POD or printing company’s wares. Talk to former customers. Just because a book gets self-published doesn’t mean it has to look self-published. 

I’d like to hear about your experiences particularly working with the self-publishing companies like Lightning Source, iuniverse, authorhouse, etc. You don’t have to mention them by name, but I am curious about how things went for you. I have heard mixed stories.

So, until the next time

May the force be with you.

p.s. Coming Thursday AND Friday: Your election haikus and limericks. They turned out pretty well!

Comments (2)


    So far, the publishing process with has been brilliant. Very smooth and I was very very happy with how my book was printed. Good quality. Covers are a little too glossy and smudge easily, and the support is in dire need of rethinking, but otherwise, a very very good experience and I have nothing personally to complain about

    Comment by Hannah S. ChackoJune 11, 2009 @ 6:07 pm has great prices and is the only digital book printer that offers the ability to include a CD attached to the inside back cover of your book. Their quality is top notch.

    Comment by mark allenSeptember 24, 2008 @ 8:27 am

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