Example Business Ideas

Tips for Running a POD Publishing Business

Written by Jay Shapiro for Gaebler Ventures

Printing On Demand publishing has given voice to many writers who may otherwise have been overlooked by mainstream publishing. But in order to run a POD publishing business that is seen as credible you still need to compete with the big boys in certain areas.

If you're thinking of setting up a Printing On Demand publishing business you need to ask yourself what you want to achieve, other than making money.

What we are looking at here is how you make that money. There are two clearly defined areas in POD publishing so it depends largely on how you see things.

You can make money from POD publishing by offering your services to writers for a fee. If you operate on a 'we'll print anything basis' you may well make money on sheer numbers and your earnings will come from the fees writers pay you to publish their books.

However, if the books don't cut it because they are poorly edited then you are unlikely to make money from sales, the writer isn't likely to see any royalties either, so you're not in the running for repeat sales, say if the same writer wants to release another book.

Why would the books be poorly edited? This is a money issue. Some writers are reluctant to pay for editing services so will opt for your basic package, that means you run with whatever they give you to print. Oh and when we say writers we may mean simply 'people who have written something' not necessarily professional writers. Sadly that usually means poor quality product. Occasionally there might be a gem, but not often.

If you do offer a 'we'll print anything' service your reputation will reflect that. As a result you'll be unlikely to attract any big names writers. Now this would be a shame because, believe it or not, many a well known author will opt for POD services as a way to re-release titles that they are free to print once rights have been reverted to them after a contractual period. Many of these works would have been highly successful and are still in demand. It's just that the demand isn't big enough for the major publishing houses to bother with.

There's also the question of not judging a book by its cover. Unfortunately people do judge books by their covers. That's why covers need to be good. If you run with everything an 'author' wants, it's possible that you'll end up with unprofessional looking book jackets. Not a good idea, and that certainly doesn't inspire people to purchase.

If you want to build a POD publishing house that has a good professional reputation you really need to behave in as discerning a way as the major houses while using the POD technology. This will mean that you produce less books than the come one come all POD houses but, you will enjoy other benefits such as:

  • Respected reputation
  • Likelyhood of attracting big names/revered writers to your stable
  • Being able to charge slightly higher fees for services
  • Higher sales of published books because - good quality products = good reviews = increased popularity and sales
  • More impactful press coverage
  • Repeat sales. If your writers are pleased with their sales and royalties they'll return to you with their next book.
  • Ability to build up enough financing to offer advances to select authors.

It was Arthur Wellesley the 1st Duke of Wellington who said in 1825 "Publish and be damned!" This was in response to Harriette Wilson, a courtesan, who threatened to go public with a memoir that would include his letters to her. He might just as aptly have been referring to a not so meritorious POD publisher. And had they had such services in the 1800s Miss Wilson may well have used them!

Jay Shapiro is a freelance writer based in the UK. Jay has a particular interest in the emotive aspects of the entrepreneur's character. "Alongside the nuts and bolts of business, the character of the person is often the ingredient responsible for success."

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