A Question of Writing: Print On Demand

Panels about writing and getting published are often filled with questions on how to accomplish this feat. In “A Question of Writing” this afternoon’s discussion kept coming back to print on demand, or POD. The lure of instant publishing without the fear of rejection is enticing, but the beginning writer needs to temper their desire to see their work in print with the knowledge that these PODs can become instant money pits. This isn’t always the case, and in fact, sometimes POD is the way to go for finite print runs and niche markets. It’s when they try to sell you additional services like editing for say $500 – $1,000 and afterward stroke your ego with talk of an interested publisher . . . for another $5,000 . . . that the pitfalls of POD become apparent.

Promotion: regardless of how their work reaches print, the truth for the new writer is they basically have to do it themselves, unless they are one of the very lucky few who get that big break. The new writer has to know how to self-promote via the local bookstores, local papers, and any special interest groups that their project may focus on. As part of this self-promotion, a press kit becomes one of the key weapons. Hi-gloss, mini-poster of the book’s cover art, promotional galley or copy of the book, cover letter on high quality stationery, and professional business cards are the core of a good press kit.

Lastly came the question of e-publishing. With many people not wanting to sit in front of a monitor and read a five hundred-page novel, print still reigns supreme. BUT, selling online allows the purchaser to print at their leisure. The only downside is that as a writer, you are relying on the total honesty of the customer that buys an e-copy of your work. You have to trust them not to make copies and pass it along to others or make it freely available for download to the rest of the world, thus depriving you of income and possibly credit for your hard work. The upside of e-publishing is if you make substantial sales in that market you can use it to prove your salability as a writer and possibly gain better footing in the print media.

These were some of the key issues discussed. Your mileage may vary.

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