Print on Demand Self Publishing

This self publishing blog was inspired by all of the e-mail questions I've received about the print on demand publishing model I advocate in my book. While I learn a great deal from reader feedback, some of the questions just repeat themselves over and over again, just like bloggers. I've covered most of the common questions over the past three months with individual posts, but I thought I'd rank them here with a couple of links for each. Without further ado, the top five questions are:

1) How can I sell more books?

My favorite answer is online book marketing but the caveat is it may already be too late in the self publishing process if you've published a book for which there's no market. As a self publisher, you are the acquisitions editor, and you can't pretend you're running a publishing business if you're willing to publish anything you write. Print on demand makes it extremely inexpensive to publish books, but selling books is another matter.

2) How do I start a self publishing company?

The first step is obtaining ISBN numbers without which you are an author, rather than a publishing company. Next comes sitting down and deciding what you are hoping to accomplish by starting your own publishing house. Take a lesson from publishing industry numbers and then, before you give up all hope, contrast the results with working as a trade author.

3) Should I use a subsidy publisher?

There's no shame in signing up with a subsidy publisher, but it's important to realize you are being published by them as opposed to self publishing. Subsidy presses will publish anything, from fiction and how-to books to poetry and memoir. There are subsidy presses that specialize in Christian books and some that only publish cookbooks. What they all share in common, whatever their fees and contracts, is that none of them provide any effective book marketing, and in the aggregate, they sell very few books.

4) Should I use print on demand?

Print on demand gives publishers the ability to cost effectively print one book at a time, but it's the vertical integration of printing and distribution that makes it a viable model. Currently, the best option for self publishers working with print on demand is Lightning Source, but they currently have limitations with illustrations and greyscale graphics, which I try to avoid entirely.

5) Should I publish e-books?

Once you are set up as a self publisher using print on demand, publishing e-books is easy, and there's little reason to set up your own e-book server and software. There are different design considerations to look at, especially with e-book covers. The problem with e-books is that they are not huge sellers, though Amazon is striving to change that with their new Amazon Shorts e-books and by concentrating e-book sales in the U.S. store.

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