Pros and Cons of Print On Demand Publishing

I started talking about this my last post about print on demand publishing, which is an increasingly popular way of getting books published.

Print on demand is nice because it doesn’t generate as much waste by printing books no one will read. You get a bigger share of each book’s cost, you have full control of everything, and you retain your rights. Unlike traditional publishing, you won’t have an editor telling you to include something or leave something out. You won’t have forced rewrites. On the other hand, you may not have the benefit of their experience in knowing what is salable. Also, quality control is entirely on you – you can print something that’s rough and half finished, or polished like a precious stone. It’s all up to you.

I personally like that, because I think people have much wider interests than traditional publishing companies will admit. Print on demand also lets you have more control over how much your book costs as well as how much money you will make.

Print on demand has drawbacks too.

You won’t have help with marketing your work, although that can be mitigated with good keywords and by picking a publisher that is partnered with the big bookstores. If you really want marketing help, most self publishers do offer those services but at a price, and it’s not necessary.

You won’t get an advance payment either. And you won’t have an agent to shop your work around and be a go-between with traditional publishing companies. That can be a drawback, because you don’t get that chunk of money, but at the same time if your book is popular you will end up making a lot more.

You also won’t get the name recognition or prestige of saying “I was published by Ballantine, Baen, GP Putnam and Sons, whatever…” however, that is becoming less important as more famous authors publish using ebooks and print on demand.

You won’t see your books in stores unless you buy copies (at a deeply discounted rate if you are an author) and sell them on consignment at the store. That’s not hard to set up, and that way you can sell your work at out of the way, locally owned places and control who sees your book.

Most of the cons of on demand publishing can be turned into pros, with a little thought. Flexibility, lack of waste, better profits. It’s all good!

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