Good News For POD People

If you don’t understand what that means, or if you think it refers to a pre-millennium science fiction flick… maybe the news won’t strike you as all that good.

Then again, if you’re reading Storyfix – which you are – it should.

If you’re a writer looking to get into print, or if you’ve already done a POD title, you should read to the end.  Or just skip to it if you already know what POD is all about.

Because something new is on this horizon, and it’s huge.

“POD” stands for “Print On Demand.” 

As in, self-published.  Or as in, the chosen path of many new small publishers who understand that this is the most available and viable way to nose-into the business.

Instead of printing a box of books, only those that are needed – as in, ordered — are printed.  Even if it’s only one copy.  No more inventory, unless you want inventory.

Sell five, print five, deliver five.  Genius.

POD is redefining the publishing business, and it has completely obliterated what used to be called fee-based vanity press publishing.  Even if expectations and results-to-date are both modest… just as they’ve always been.

What was not all that long ago rarely even spoken of within the walls and halls of the established publishing community is now considered viable – a genuine threat to the status quo – and even, depending on whom you ask, the future of publishing. 

These days anybody can publish a novel.

Or a how-to.  Rich Dad Poor Dad began its life as a self-published title (though not a POD book, that was back when POD did mean something from a movie), so anything can happen. 

Not just an ebook, or a Kindle/e-reader title… but a bona fide, leave-a-bookmark-where-you-left-off-and-recycle-when-you’re-done trade paperback.

One that looks good, smells good, seems as professional (in many instances) as the titles on the shelf at Borders, one with an actual ISBN on the spine, and becomes a product you can sell – and smell – from the back of your SUV to your heart’s content.

That’s how John Grisham got it going… it happens.  And now, the chances of it – mainstream success via your launch as a self-published author – are even greater.

To paraphrase another 80s movie moment… we all love the smell of a good book in the morning.  Especially when it’s our own name on the cover.

If you were hoping for “one that the bookstores will stock and sell for you” as part of that roster of benefits… sorry, it doesn’t quite go that far.  While some POD titles do actually make it into bookstores, they are few and far between.  And almost non-existent in the big retail chains.

Now – literally – anybody can get published.  In fact, more than a few of the titles you see promoted at writing conferences and signings are, in fact, POD titles.

When someone says, “yeah, I just published a book,” you can’t really be sure what that means anymore.  In the most cynical sense it’s kinda like buying a sheepskin from a diploma mill… nobody offers up this information voluntarily.  They just walk around in the glow of a certain perception they hope will remain unquestioned.

Then again, getting into print is getting into print.  

Just holding your own book in your own two hands can be a dream come true.

Just don’t expect a lot of other people to hold it in theirs.

And don’t kid yourself into thinking, “I’m there, this is it, my publishing dream just came true.”  You and I know that’s not the case.

But… if you work hard enough and smart enough at marketing your POD title, you have a shot at leveraging it toward an old school publishing deal from a brand name house.

And that particular proposition just became more real.

The Golden Ring of POD

Truth is, getting a POD book widely reviewed is next to impossible.  The local daily might run something, especially if you’re a familiar face on the writing scene around town.  Or if someone there owes you a big favor.

But if you’ve been dreaming about getting your POD title reviewed in, say, Publishers Weekly – the most important place of all to get a book reviewed – well, you’ve been dreaming.

Prior to now, that didn’t really ever happen.

But that’s about to change.

That’s what’s new and huge and exciting for anyone with a POD strategy.

PW is now going to list, and review, POD titles.

Publishers Weekly is calling it “PW Select,” and while it doesn’t guarantee you a review – though it does open the door to one – it does guarantee the title of your book will appear in their pages.   

Here’s what Publishers Weekly has to say about the phenomenon of self-publishing:

In recognition of the boom in self-publishing and as an acknowledgment that valuable works are being published outside traditional publishing, PW is giving self-published authors a chance to present their titles to the publishing trade. Call it what you will–self-published, DIY, POD, author-financed, micro-titles, or relationship publishing–the phenomenon is upending the publishing world.

Our readership — agents, booksellers, publishers, distributors, librarians, and media–constitute the ideal audience, always on the alert for new talent, worthwhile books, and marketable products, and the PW Select Announcements issue is poised to both take notice in the publication of such books and to select titles for review.

This is truly visionary stuff. 

PW Select will appear as a quarterly supplement to the actual Publishers Weekly periodical.  Authors can purchase – for $149 – a listing that will describe the book and, theoretically, be exposed to the industry players named above. 

And… wait for it… it will also include ordering information.

But here’s the best part.

From those listings PW editors will select 25 of those listed titles and actually review them in the magazine.

Which means, this insider audience will have the benefit of a proven, credible Publishers Weekly review, one that applies the same standards (and the potential for that coveted star) applied to your favorite A-list authors.  If your book scores a solid review, well…

… someone in the business might take notice.

Which is what you’ve been dreaming about all along.

This opportunity is perhaps the first viable POD strategy that doesn’t require 30 grand and a year of elbow grease and rejection to offer a shot at success.

Click HERE to read more about PW Select page from the Publishers Weekly website.

To learn more about getting published, please consider my ebook: “Get Your Bad Self-Published.” 


Filed under getting published

8 Responses to Good News For POD People

  1. Kelly

    Hello, Larry.
    Wow. Quite a deal for $149.
    I am still hopeful one of the two traditional publishing editors in possession of my MS will make me a published author in full-length fiction (both requested a full), but it seems like traditional may be going by the wayside.
    Having a gatekeeper (editor, agent, etc) validate a MS as saleable appeals to me, though. I’ve read self-pub stuff that is… less than stellar. On the other hand, two people in one of my writing groups just self-pubbed (and their stuff is viable, IMHO).
    If you had it to do over again, or with your next book, would you go the POD route, or traditional?
    Cheers, Kelly

  2. LisaM

    This IS good news! Getting published traditionally is still my goal, and while I’m never going to put something out there with my name on it unless I’m as happy with it as I can be (staying on the right side of manic perfectionism, in other words), this is certainly a reason to look at going down the self-publishing route.
    Thanks for sharing this good news.

  3. Pingback: Happy Endings Blog – » Blog Archive » Good news for small press authors…

  4. I hesitate to say this about PW, but, having been a POD author, and having heard the millions of “we will review/advertise/market/pimp your work for the reasonable one-time cost of $xxx.xx…” I am suspicious.

    Paying for a review has been an industry “no-no” for a very long time, and something a lot of less than reputable organizations have made money off of; usually from the aforementioned less-than-stellar writers who are unaware and working very hard to get noticed.

    Sounds like PW needs a little income, and are getting it the safe way: offering to review with the stipulation that “25 will be chosen for review in the magazine”. They don’t say from how many books listed, or whether they will only choose positive reviews. Alarm bells…

    But I’m a cynic…


  5. Allow me to clarify. The $149 is for a listing in a quarterly directory, which includes information beyond the title that describes the book. That’s it. The money isn’t for a review.

    Then, in an effort to expand into this niche, the publishers will select 25 books from each quarterly roster of books for review, based on their opinion of commerical viability. It’s like the yellow pages… you page to get in, and then the buyer selects which products they want to try. You can’t buy the latter, you can only try (pay, in this case) to get in the game.

  6. Larry,

    Why do so many otherwise intelligent people persist in equating POD with self-published or vanity publishing? POD is a production method, nothing more. It is also a more economical/sensible system than filling a warehouse with books that �might� sell.

    Many small publishers today are utilizing POD and these are publishers who don�t accept everything submitted and have editing standards on a par with the big houses. Some of these small publishers do distribute through Ingram, Baker & Taylor and other chains and get their books into major bookstores. I have books with three of these small companies and all of them were accepted on the basis of content and not payment of a fee.

    As to the PW move, it remains to be seen how much of a plus it will be for anyone. They�re charging a fee (something we�re constantly advised not to pay for a review) and there�s no better guarantee than might be expected of a Google or Facebook ad.

    I enjoy and learn much from your columns, but I just had to respond on this.

  7. Larry,

    Got your email about this very subject and I’m somewhat skeptical. I see this as a cash grab for PW from those desperate for a review from a major source. If they get five thousand entries per quarter, you have a .05% chance of getting a review…probably less than the chance of getting a review from simply submitting it. Oh, and they gross nearly 750K. Maybe it’s just my New England pessimism showing…

    As for POD, it’s nothing more than the “just in time” method used in industry for years which is an accepted and smart business practice. You make it when you need it rather than having stock collecting dust on a shelf. I know the big publishers would like to pretend that POD equals lesser quality, but I think you and I have disproven that.

  8. @John and Lloyd — you ask: Why do so many otherwise intelligent people persist in equating POD with self-published or vanity publishing?” There’s an answer. You may not like it, but reality sucks sometimes.

    When writers talk about “getting published,” for the most part they are referring to traditional New York-based publication from a branded house. Like Penguin or Random House or St. Martins. And here’s the deal: NONE of those use POD. And, to complicate the conversation, virtually ALL of self-published books these days DO use it, as well as some very excellent small publishers (like the house that published me recently, Sons of Liberty; these small presses are indeed publishers and not at all self-publishers when they take on a title from an outsider… but make no mistake, they aren’t what the mainstream conversation is referring to when they say “getting published.”

    It’s not a qualitative context, and you’re right, it’s just a production method. But don’t be naive, it’s like fast food versus fine dining — both can be delicious and nourishing, but nobody should be kidding themselves that there is a difference.

    Another example: I played professional baseball. But my career was all in the minor leagues. Was I a professional? Yep, I actually made a lot of money. But, in terms of the perception of young ballplayers, is that what they’re shooting for? No way. Same with publishing. It sucks, but it’s reality. It may change — it IS changing, and small houses like Sons of Liberty are leading the charge — but for now, POD equates to a perception that we are stuck with. If you doubt this, ask Lloyd why the major chains won’t stock his books, which are as good as anything from the NY guys.