Will POD ever achieve respectability?


In previous posts I’ve briefly touched on the POD industry (and it’s even less reputable cousin, vanity publishers). We’ve danced around the subject but never really gone into how we feel about this.

Today I was reading The Adams Zone, where the author says:

A self-published book says “unsuccessful.”  It says to potential readers that maybe the author was such a poor writer that they had to pay to have their book printed.

To a large extent, I think this is still the case. I think most of us would still shy away from a self-published book, in favor of something from one of the big publishing houses. I could be wrong, but I haven’t seen any signs that POD has lost any of that stigma. Most bookstores will not carry self-published books, nor allow book signings by authors of self-published books.  I’ve heard of (but can’t cite any off-hand) self-published authors whose books sold well enough that they eventually got the “traditional” publishing house to pick up their book, but these seem to be few and far between. Very far between.

And yet, even with the state of the economy, and as tight as it has always been in the publishing industry to get a book contract, publishers seem to be churning out the schlock, unedited, and peddling it to the public. Lis’Anne talked on her blog a couple of days ago about her experience buying a book riddled with contradictions and inconsistencies.

I don’t know about you, but this makes no sense to me. Publishing houses are feeling the pinch every bit as much as every other industry, possibly more in some cases. So why would they publish something so bad that readers give up in frustration? Once you know a certain publisher puts out books that haven’t been edited (or at least not edited well), are you going to buy anything from them again? What makes publishing with them any more prestigious than pay-to-publish?

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5 thoughts on “Will POD ever achieve respectability?

  1. An interesting dilemma. I’ve toyed with the idea of self publishing, but I would probably only publish enough to send to friends and family (for free) and one on the shelf to remind me that I’d accomplished something. I’d have a hard time getting myself around the stigma, even though I know it isn’t necessarily logical.

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  2. mkhblink, thanks for coming by and your comment. I don’t know much about how Lulu operates, I hope you at least had a good experience with them. I like to suggest to people considering the self-publishing route to check out Booklocker.com, Angela Hoy, the owner, is a writer’s advocate and the fees she charges seem to be much lower than other POD operations. I don’t know that I would ever use a POD publisher for a novel either, though. For one thing, I know I wouldn’t be any good at marketing and promoting the book on my own.

    Heya Uppington! I think that stigma will remain with the industry until places like PublishAmerica are forced out of business due to shame. They’ll publish anything, no matter how bad, which wrecks the credibility of the entire industry. That’s my problem with it. If more of them were like BookLocker.com who actually will turn down bad manuscripts it could change the entire industry. But I’d still rather let the publisher handle the marketing and placement and so on 🙂

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  3. I am 76 years old, and published my first middle-grade mystery through Infinity Publishing. They claim to not be a POD publisher, perhaps because they do all the publishing on site. I was very pleased with the finished product and the selling price was $9.95. Booklocker, which initially accepted it, would not sell it for under $12.95, which I felt was too high. My son went door-to-door and sold over 200 copies. I have received very good feed-back from readers in the 9-12 age group, as well as adults.
    Initially, I attempted to get the attention of mainstream publishers, but was rebuffed. Apparently they are overwhelmed. However, I read that they are not interested in any writer over 40 years of age because, understandably, they are looking for a writer who will produce a constant flow of potential best sellers. Their response times can be six months to one year, or more. That certainly left me out.
    I am currently working on a sequel and intend to use Infinity again. I think I have no alternative.
    Sheila

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  4. Hi Sheila,

    Thanks for coming by and sharing your experience, and congratulations on selling over 200 copies of your book! Good to know about Infinity vs. Booklocker. I just did a quick search on them, and one thing they offer that most POD publishers don’t (Inifinity is a POD, as per their Web site) is they will take back unsold books from retailers, which most others won’t do.

    Here’s a side-by-side comparison of 12 POD publishers if anyone is interested:

    Top Ten POD Publishers

    I don’t know anything about the Web site itself, I just found it on a quick search. Looks like they review all kinds of stuff.

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