Saturday, March 21, 2009

Hounding the Mailbox and Waiting for Publication

By Jean Henry Mead

I’ve waited up to 18 months for a book to be published, but that was before publish on demand. POD is considered second class by many in the publishing industry, and I don't understand why. It's much more efficient than traditional publishing and isn’t it great that the wait between submission and publication is only a few months? Your books aren’t languishing in some warehouse, maybe never to be delivered to the bookstores. That's happened more often than publishers care to admit. It’s also the reason bestselling authors have delivered pizza, donuts and coffee to warehouse workers. It insures that their newly published books leave the loading dock.

If you’re young, you have all the time in the world to wait for a major publisher to produce your books. But as you grow older and wonder if you’re going to live long enough to see them in print, you think POD is the greatest invention since paper towels.

I came to that conclusion last year after the first novel of my Logan & Cafferty mystery/suspense series was orphaned. Who would want to publish a series that had already been published? I wondered. I received an almost immediate response from Avalon to my query letter, but I waited and waited for a go-ahead to my submission. Seven months later and tired of waiting, I decided to go with a small POD publisher that is very accommodating.

My first two books were published within three months and released not only in print but Kindle and Fictionwise multi-format. Not on the bestseller list, by any means, but they remained #1 in sales for a couple of months at Fictionwise-epress. That made it worthwhile.

This week Diary of Murder, the second novel in my mystery series, appeared in print at nearly a month after the Kindle edition, and it’s difficult to find although the Kindle edition pops right up. I finally tracked it down at:, and wonder if POD editions are given second class status by online bookstores. I think it’s time, especially during this economic downturn, that POD publishing receives some respect.

What do you think?


Morgan Mandel said...

I agree. POD makes much more sense these days. Also, self-publishing. There's nothing like independence and not relying on the whims of someone who might be at least 35 years younger than you.

Morgan Mandel

Marvin D. Wilson said...

Good article. I also agree, POD is the way to go and the wave of the future for print books. It makes environmental sense and it's just a much easier more efficient vehicle for publishing. All three of my pub'd books are available POD.

Dana Fredsti said...

POD needs to be given a lot more respect. It's sustainable and saves a heck of a lot more trees than traditional publishing. I don't see the downside and the fact certain organizations will not acknowledge writers with publishers who do POD is ridiculous. My two cents.

Vivian Zabel said...

Okay, I want to make sure you mean POD, not self-publishing. The two are not synonymous, although many people use them as such.

Many publishers use the print on demand process any more, including some of the "big boys," but that doesn't mean authors receive their books any sooner, or not much sooner, it just means that orders are filled faster.

Self-publishing would be almost cost restrictive if not for POD possibilities.

I don't know why the black mark against POD the process, but I can understand why self-publishing has a bad reputation, because I've read some very poorly edited and written self-published books, or tried to, even though some self-published works are very good.

Christine Duncan said...

POD is not only quicker and greener but it also is a better business model. Okay, I'm a bean counter in my day job. But really, how many publishers can really afford to print all those books and take returns and all of that which is known as the traditional publishing model. Print on demand makes sense for an industry which is struggling to make it's own way in these difficult economic times.
Great article, Jean!

Mark Troy said...

I think most readers and booksellers don't understand the difference between POD and self-publishing. In their minds, POD=self-publishing=desperation.

My publisher tried to cut the connection by referring to the books as "Trade Paperback In Short Run." It didn't work, in part, I think because the acronym, TPISR, was pronounced "tee-pisser." A good marketing consultant could have helped.

I don't think POD will replace offset printing until the price per unit comes down.

Even though there are some very good self-published books, readers need a way to be able to separate the good from the bad.

Cynde L. Hammond said...

Dear Jean,

So true! I am definitely in agreement with you.
It's very difficult for some people to change with the times, and from their standpoint, it may also put some people out of jobs to go with POD.
But...when you sit down and really think about it, they were jobs created out of waste in the first place, because look at how many books that are printed that go unsold. It's such a collosal waste of our resources, at a time when we should NOT be wasting ANYTHING!
Great article, Jean. Certainly something to think about.


Anne Carter said...

I am hopeful that as time goes by and technology improves, the cost of print-on-demand books will ultimately decrease. As Mark pointed out, the cost per unit is still rather high.

It is sad that some have made an erroneous connection between POD and self-published books. However, I don't believe most readers pay much attention. They do, though, pay attention to the price of the book. I know some people hesitate or refuse to pay the higher cost of a trade paperback.


F. M. Meredith, author said...

I agree with the above comments. POD is merely the mechanics of the publishing of a book. Readers don't have a clue about any of that. I always call my books trade paperbacks.

aka F. M. Meredith

Jean Henry Mead said...

Thanks, everyone, for your good comments. I wasn't talking about self-publishing although I guess POD is used by them.