Print on Demand
Lower Investment. Higher Unit Cost.

I used to say some nasty things about Print On Demand (POD)

(But not anymore.)

Meet some authors who have done it.

I called POD "vanity publishing's sickly sister." I didn't understand that a revolution was occurring, that there were about to be more self-published children's books than traditionally published ones.

And that Print on Demand would let authors get in on the boom without spending thousands of dollars.

Article continues.

Click 'Print'!

What POD really represents today is a self publishing option that requires a much lower investment (even $0.00!) from authors.

There's a potential downside though.

Print On Demand is one self publishing option

Your self publishing options!

The first thing you need to know is how published books used to (and still for the most part do) get made.

Large print runs. A professional printing operation reeling off hundreds (or thousands) of books at a time.

It's the cheapest way! If...

If you're going to be selling hundreds or thousands of books.

But you're a self-publisher. What if you sell only five books? Well...

If you had 1000 printed, you're out a lot of money. And garage space! With Print On Demand, it's possible to avoid incurring costs until someone wants your book.

Start playing with Createspace for free. Createspace is Amazon's POD operation, and thus the easiest way to get your Print on Demand book on Amazon!

So POD is the way to go, right?

Well, not necessarily.

For one thing, people might have to wait for your book to be printed. Of course, you can get around that by pre-ordering some yourself and always having them handy. But here's the big thing:


POD books cost more per book. It makes sense! Order a thousand, pay less per book. But if you end up printing on demand those thousand books, each one will cost more.

Significantly more. Which means, if you want to profit - or even just break even...

You have to charge more.

Ouch! Now that means that your self published book, which will be perceived by many as having less value than a traditionally published book, will actually cost more. And while your friends and family might not mind...

People you don't know probably will.

A third option

E-books. An e-book costs nothing to print. And there are plenty of places to put your book up for sale that cost nothing up front. They'll just take a percentage of the sale price.

Want your e-book on Amazon, for instance? One good way is through Kindle Direct Publishing.

Now, I have nothing against e-book reading. But I'm firmly of the opinion that picture books really don't have a place in e-books, and lots of picture book buyers seem to agree.

(Unless you're doing something wonderfully interactive, which will likely cost money.)

So authors who publish their picture books as e-books are, in my opinion, doing it for themselves, not their buyers or readers.

How do the outlets who let you publish your ebooks for free make their money? They take a piece of your sales, of course, usually in the form of a percentage. But that's still allows you to set the price low.

(As of this writing, Amazon even lets you set it on free for a few days each quarter.)

So POD definitely has its place

It's your chance to experiment with self publishing a real, hard-copy book. It's your chance to check out your marketing skills, though with a bit of a monkey on your back. (The high per unit cost.)

Of course, there's nothing to keep you from pricing your book below cost in order to get an idea of how many you could sell if you went with a large (non-POD) print run.

(Presumably, overseas, because that's where you get the best prices.)

In other words, accept a small loss on your book but avoid the huge loss you'd experience if you bought hundreds more books than you're capable of selling!

Authors who have done Print on Demand share their experience

New! Comments

Have your say!

Best Children's Books - Find, Read or Write home page.