On POD Publishers

Publishers as the IAG Writers See Them (Information and opinions are from 2006-2007 and may not be current)

iUniverse
Back in the previous millennium, iUniverse had an online sales and royalty reporting system. By the time my first book was released in the last days of December, 2000, the iU page of sales reporting was nothing but history. The management repeatedly promised that they were developing a newer, more sophisticated version, and several years later, it actually appeared. If you have already released your first iU book, you can currently access that page. (more here) – Floyd Orr

Wasteland Press

I am the author of 2 self published, true stories about my grandfather’s early life as an orphan train rider at the turn of the century. Both were published in 2004 with Wasteland Press. Their publishing plans are excellent and I can honestly say that although I paid $600 to have each book published, I received 100 copies free of charge. Had I sold them all for the cover price of $10.00, I would have gotten ALL my money back. I sold most of them for 7-8 dollars each and gave some away to family members. I have purchased hundreds of more copies at 50% off and I sell them when I go to schools to talk about the Orphan Train Movement which is now part of school curriculum. I can truly relate with regards to the editing. I had five adults read carefully word by word and still a few mistakes got by us. At Wasteland Press you can always go back and change the interior if you find an error. I know I sound like a commercial for Wasteland Press, but they really were that good. If you do consider Wasteland Press, please let them know that I referred you to them, since they pay a referral bonus. – Donna Aviles

Xlibris

I had a good experience with Xlibris and have been well satisfied with their quality but I’m not sure I’d use them for my next book (assuming I do one). They are somewhat inflexible to deal with. However it’s important to select a POD with staying power and Xlibris, along with iUniverse, is one of the big ones. I once recommended a small shop to someone I knew because they promised boutique attention. She contracted with them sent them her money and within weeks their principal died and his widow raided the company’s accounts and grabbed all their cash assets, putting them out of business. I felt very bad for steering her toward them. Nowadays, I would only deal with a company with staying power.

I have been quite happy with (Xlibris) in terms of product quality but somewhat less in terms of their flexibility and publishing model. It seems to me that what a serious POD needs is a strategy for supporting and enhancing author PR efforts. Any of the PODs can assure us channel distribution (i.e., getting books distributed through a major wholesaler like Ingram’s and thus into on-line “stores” like Amazon and available to the bricks and mortar stores via Bowkers). But our real challenge is getting our books known and getting stores to actually choose to order them– Stuart Mirsky

Xlibris

I published POD through Xlibris whose wholesale book distributor is the giant Ingram Book Distributor. I paid $699 to Xlibris for Ingram to list my book as “returnable” (and mark my ISBN as such on the data base all bookstores use) a year’s guarantee of returnability. I am gambling that I will sell more than 100 books or so in the next year to get back my money and make a small profit (tuition in this school is not too expensive, I figure). We shall do and we shall see!! After buying the guarantee I immediately noticed seven book sales at different stores. Suddenly there were royalties due me on my account. I had sold zero books since January when I started with Xlibris.– David Linwood

Exposure Publishing

I use Exposure Publishing, which is an offshoot of http://www.diggorypress.com. I’ve found them very helpful and they give you lots of good advice. – F. J. Warren

Infinity Publishing

I am an author of two works of historical fiction “The Perfect Steel Trap Harpers Ferry 1859” and “The Virginian Who Might Have Saved Lincoln” both published by Infinity Publishing who is a great, professional, author driven, POD publisher. My first book was published in January 2006 –my second came out in May 2007. I have sold a total of over 2000 copies combined. I have lots of non-traditional suggestions for authors who want to sell more books — mostly things that work for me. – Bob O’Connor

West Coast Publisher

I was lucky enough to find a medium-sized publishing house on the west coast for “The Shakespeare Diaries” There are quite a number of good smaller publishers out there–a lot of them are in “The Writer’s Market.” It’s always a good idea to check out and follow exactly what a publisher asks for when submitting materials. – J. P. Wearing

Lulu

I’m printing through Lulu, but I’ve got my own ISBNs and on Ingram. I’m approaching local bookstores as the distributor and will certainly say I’ll take returns, but that won’t do a thing for any other stores. I haven’t seen anything like that on Lulu, so I’ll ask around. Most of my sales have been directly from me. I’ve set up Paypal to take the money and ship myself. The advantage, of course, is that Paypal handles the money and I can sell a book at the same price as Amazon but eat the shipping myself.

– Marva Dasef

Lulu

I used Lulu briefly to put out a revised version of my novel but then took it down. Lulu worked fine though the cover art was amateurish and the books aren’t available, at least not back then, anywhere but on Lulu and I think you have to have distribution on sites like amazon and its cousins in order to have a shot at a really sizable audience. The other thing is that Lulu books are more costly per copy to the author. Still, it’s a nice cheap way to go because you don’t pay anything up front and it will get you a respectable looking POD book. – Stuart Minsky

Lulu

I highly recommend them. They do absolutely nothing for their authors! Their entire publishing process is automated. You write whatever you want and change things (editing or adding pictures) as often as you want. There is no additional charge. You can design your cover from their templates or submit cover designs of your own choice…Once everything is submitted as “WORD’ it is then converted to Adobe PDF files that you can save on your computer. Finally, Lulu will fill the orders as they arrive so you needn’t buy 500 of your own books to store in your garage for sales and shipping.– Suzanne Olsson

iUniverse

I published my historical fiction middle grade book through iUniverse using their most expensive package with all the extras. I was pleased with how my book turned out but perplexed by how slowly the sales seem to be trickling in. My book, Tonia of Trelawney, is set in the Caribbean in the 17th century. I wanted to tell a story that would both teach children about my history and provide an interesting read for 8 to 12 year olds.- Jacqueline C. Grant Kent

iUniverse

iUniverse provided new back cover copy for the Star edition and a new short description of the book. They also had someone proofread the book, allowed me to make some revisions, and gave me 50 copies. All of this was free.– Susan Higginbotham

iUniverse

iUniverse is a good quality POD and I have never heard much negative about them other than that they are expensive. They determine early on if the book qualifies for the Editor’s Choice program. Dianne’s book did, but mine did not. Once in the Editor’s Choice program, depending on sales and other things, they may give the book the Star designation, which to my understanding is much like a traditional publishing deal with broad distribution, buy back of books, etc. I believe very few books are awarded that. They really have not done anything for my book other than provide me with the marketing plan template. Everything else has been up to me. One thing that they do with the premium package is the custom cover, which I believe is extremely important. Other than that, I would say that any good POD would be comparable, assuming similar costs and some would be a good deal less expensive. iUniverse is on the high end on cost for a POD. iUniverse may be the Cadillac of the POD world, but the question is do you want to pay for all the bells and whistles? I would go to Predators and Editors to check out any choice I made.– Barry Yelton

Diggory Press

Have a browse through the http://www.diggorypress.com site that I use. They have a lot of American books published on it. They also offer a stepped promotion package for the UK (incorporating sale or return would you believe?) but I’m not sure if the same applies in the USA. I’ve been very pleased with them – 2 books ranking on Amazon.com, way down I know but they still ranked, and I’m not out there advertising myself and trying to get noticed. When I started with these publishers they had about 500 – 600 hundred books; a year later it’s over 2,000, and people go back to print with them again so they must be doing something right. They are very human to deal with and, in this country, outsell any of the other self-publishing companies by quite a margin. As I said I can’t really say what the quality of the product is like in America but the British one is splendid! – F. J. Warren

Xlibris and Book Surge
I have received seven sales in the past month that produced royalties, through self-publishing with Xlibris.com and Booksurge.com. The only way I could get my book onto the shelves of popular bookstores was to buy a guarantee that any books they give shelf-space would be returnable at full value if it didn’t sell after a time. I am one month into trying this and these are my very first sales since I began six months ago. At this rate, I will have to sell 100 books or so to break even on the “returnable guarantee” deal which cost me $700 per year. I am not disappointed. I expect to get sales in dribs and drabs for the next two years, and then a steadily rising custom after a period of two to five years or so. In the meantime I buy several hundred dollars worth of my author-discounted books and send them to friends and associates who respond “yes” when I ask if they want to read it. I also make up “sales-sheets” with my own advertising on it and deliver this with a book to the local bookstores (there are several hundred here in Knoxville). When they hear the book is returnable they they may give it some shelf space — otherwise, usually no. They have a database they enter my ISBN number and it informs them that the book is returnable

– David Linwood

Wheatmark Publishers

I took a look and also scanned Wheatmark, a company that has always interested me. I note they have a program like iUniverse’s STAR program. They call it Great Expectations but its threshold is way higher than that of the STAR program. Authors have to sell 2,000 copies to participate vs. 500 for iUniverse.! Having sold over a thousand myself, I know what a daunting task those numbers are (though clearly doable as we had at least one member here who reported 20,000 in sales). My guess is that Wheatmark’s set their threshold so high in order to avoid having to do many such books (they indicate that at 2,000 sales they take over marketing from the author and invest their own money in the effort). If the STAR program rarely kicks in on iUniverse, how much less likely will it be to see the Great Expectations program do this! I guess I’m still looking to see what the possibilities are for this new manuscript.

– Brenda Mirsky

Paul Mould Publishing

Paul is the proprietor of Paul Mould Publishing, a small scale British publisher which works on a partnership basis with its authors. Paul has built up a distribution network among local bookstores in the U.K. while maintaining a relationship with a U.S. based book promoter/distributor who handles his sales stateside. When I told him some of the discussions we’ve been having on this list, he suggested that I just provide his e-mail address here for authors who may be interested in his publishing model. He’s picked up quite a few authors as I understand it and has published close to 70 books by now (though I could have the count wrong). I’ve never worked with him myself because of the oceanic divide between us but apparently he has quite a few U.S. authors on his list already so it’s apparent that not everyone in the U.S. sees distance as an obstacle. – Stuart Mirsky

Star Publish

Star Publish offers a full discount equal to that of the big traditional publishers. In addition, the royalties from Star are 50-79%, compared to iU’s 25%. They have an optional add-on program called the “Shooting Star Books Program.” Yes, there is an extra fee, but it is so low that, as Kristie Leigh Maguire, the owner of Star puts it, “It costs less than a cup of coffee a day.” What does it do? It gets your book added onto the online catalog that is available to all bookstores, and which has been widely accepted with great enthusiasm by the managers of the stores, including the major chain stores. Also, when I make my daily calls to the bookstores, I include the books from the Shooting Star Books Program. Obviously, I can’t concentrate on all of them in every call, but I do rotate them regularly so they all get a good shot at being featured. The others are all available in the catalog. – Janet Elaine Smith

Booklocker Publishing

They do want you to do the editing and the marketing, but they aren’t charging for those services anyway, and they are very prompt with the advice and assistance, in doing it! – Celia Hayes

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