Picking up from where we left off here.
Print on Demand
One development that has made self-publishing much more feasible is print-on-demand technology. Instead of having to pay for hundreds or thousands of books per print run at a time, books can now be produced in single units or more at a time, as needed.
The quality of print-on-demand (or POD) books has increased over time and is as good as books produced by Big Six publishers. This makes POD the no-brainer option for most authors. There may be exceptional cases, in which a POD press may not fit your needs, so do your research before choosing your printer.
Authors have a choice of POD publishing options that include the following:
- vanity presses;
- author services companies or “hybrid publishers” (which I define to mean a company that gives authors the means to self-publish and provides additional services, such as editing, cover design, and so on, for a (usually exorbitant) fee); or
- completely self-publishing under a trade name and producing print books through a POD company such as IngramSpark (a publishing and distribution platform created by Lightning Source for indie authors and small publishers) or KDP Print (a publishing and distribution arm of Amazon).
A vanity press is a company that charges authors to publish their books. Four words: don’t waste your money. As an indie author, when you publish your work, you should be able to put it up on a distribution platform (without cost, in the case of ebooks), and be compensated in the form of royalties.
So … rule one for indie authors: do not, I repeat, do not pay a company up front simply to publish a book. Just don’t. You have too many options available to throw money at a company to publish your books these days. Period.
Author services companies are a little different. When I first self-published, I didn’t expect to end up doing so for an extended time. I released my first self-published edition of my novel through Lulu: lulu.com. Unlike a vanity press, they didn’t charge up front, but only took a percentage and paid out royalties to the author. That was fine, but when I became more serious about making a living at fiction writing, I also became more committed to indie authorship.
That’s when I decided to set up my own imprint, Renegade Press. Eventually, I reissued my first novel through my own imprint, at which point I was completely my own book publisher.
As my own publisher, I think it’s important to buy your own ISBNs. An ISBN is a number assigned to every book. (More on that later.) So, on a cautionary note, consider the potential consequences of not buying your own ISBNs.
If you don’t own the ISBNs, are you the actual publisher? As your own publisher, shouldn’t you own your products’ ISBNs?
I don’t claim to have all the answers, but having complete ownership is important to me. I’d encourage you to take that seriously. A publishing imprint and the books it produces are among your assets. They have a value.
As for “hybrid publishers”, according to some sources who claim to know, they are companies that (essentially) handle the project management aspects of publishing a book. Supposedly, they have “higher standards” than vanity presses. Well, that’s a low bar. And keep in mind, they charge you a lot for these supposed benefits. The chances are you’ll pay less by directly outsourcing the editing, cover design, and formatting.
More to come! 🙂