It all depends upon the motives behind your decision to publish with a Print-on-Demand (POD) company. If you are planning a memoir that is directed at family and friends, a selective circulation, your criteria would be different than someone who plans to sell thousands of his/her books and make a profit, and/or getting noticed.
What do I mean by getting noticed? If you don’t have a way “in” (a friend in the book business) to the conventional route, then you can make a splash by intensively marketing your book and hopefully be noticed by a publisher or agency, who see market-tested results.
Christopher Paolini (aged 16 or 17 then) and his parents took six months out to travel the country and market his self-published Eragon, the first of a tremendously successful trilogy. I understand that The Kite Runner only received an interest a year after it was launched when the book was picked up by a number of book clubs. There are numerous other examples. Either your sales make a splash (one expert judged this at 5,000 copies sold in the first year), or you show through your marketing efforts that you have media value (i.e. – marketing potential).
If your goal is to get noticed, then I believe the list price of the book is critical. Xlibris published my first novel, A Gardener’s Tale, and they did a great job in producing a physically attractive book – no complaints. My downfall, I believe, was that the list price for the paperback novel on amazon.com is $24. Would you pay that price for an unknown author (however good)? While I eagerly await each new John Grisham book, I would not pay that amount for his latest paperback.
My research, based on this criteria, narrowed it down to two companies: iUniverse and Booksurge.
I was particularly impressed with the former: their promotions, a book about how to go through the entire process including book promotion, and a number of awards and benefits that you can strive for. This includes the important incentive of having your book on the shelves of your local Barnes & Nobles.
Booksurge also has a number of benefits. They allow the author to set the price of the book (the lower list price, the smaller the royalty per book) and they have a solid marketing support including an ongoing webinar series with marketing experts which are all complimentary to their authors. Booksurge’s lowest list price for Oilspill dotcom is $13-$14 – Oilspill dotcom is just under 60,000 words – and this, as I mentioned, is very important to me.
But if I am honest, what swayed me was the decision by Amazon.com to only list POD books published with their own subsidiaries. I had almost signed with iUniverse, when I had dinner with the author, D. Patrick Miller (My Journey Through the Plant World) and heard of this controversial decision.
Amazon.com owns Booksurge, and I cannot see any chance for success of a POD book without the ability to sell on the biggest virtual bookstore. Whenever I hear about a book that might interest me, I go to Amazon.com and check out the reviews and the price.
So, I made my choice, and I will share with you in the coming months, the ups and downs of working with Booksurge. But for now, the next stage was finding a professional editor to help lock down the manuscript…and that will be the subject of my next blog entry.
Until then – Good Writing,