Friday, December 18, 2009

Publishing on Demand

By Jean Henry Mead

I’ve waited up to 18 months for a book to be published, but that was before publish on demand technoogy greatly enhanced publication time. POD is considered second class by many in the publishing industry, and I don't understand why. It's much more efficient than traditional publishing and isn’t it great that the wait between submission and publication is only a few months? Your books aren’t languishing in some warehouse, perhaps never to be delivered to the bookstores. That's happened more often than publishers care to admit. It’s also the reason bestselling authors have delivered pizza and donuts to warehouse workers. It insures that their newly published books leave the loading dock.

Young writers have time to wait for a major publisher to produce their books. But as you grow older and wonder if you’re going to live long enough to see them in print, you think POD is the greatest invention since the computer.

I came to that conclusion when the first novel of my Logan & Cafferty mystery/suspense series was orphaned. Who would want to publish a series that had already been published? I wondered. I received an almost immediate response from Avalon to my query letter, but I waited and waited for a go-ahead to my submission. Seven months later and tired of waiting, I decided to go with a small POD publisher that is very accommodating.

My first two books were published within three months of submission and released not only in print but Kindle and Fictionwise multi-format. Not on the bestseller list, by any means, but they remained #1 in sales for a couple of months at Fictionwise-epress. That made it worthwhile. The ebook edition of my first novel, Escape, a Wyoming Historical Novel, is currently number one in sales as well as the most highly rated although it was published in July 2008. I'm simply amazed and wonder if that would have happened with a traditional publisher.

This week I submitted my Mysterious People manuscript, all 145,000 words and 75 mystery writer photos to Poisoned Pen Press for publication. Although they're not considered a POD publisher, they accepted the manuscript via email so I didn't have to search for a box the right size to snail mail the manuscript or wait in line at the post office to send it on it's way.

I agree with Chester. You can teach an old dog new tricks and I'm happy to embrace electronic technology. When are the large publishing houses going to catch up with the innovative smaller ones?

9 comments:

Ben Small said...

Actually, I recall reading that several large publishing houses were using POD technology for their back lists, feeling it was much more efficient than having dust collect on warehouse shelves. I think this technology's time has come...

Beth Terrell said...

Kudos to you Jean. POD presses are considered redheaded stepchildren in some spheres, but there are a lot of great POD books out there, including, as Ben points out, backlist titles by top-selling authors.

Pat Browning said...

Ben's right. "Mainstream" publishers are finally seeing the light, but what a long, strange trip it's been.

Nine years ago I was figuratively kicked out of a local bookstore for showing up with my brand new POD mystery. Same year I got a long, figuratively tear-stained letter from the manager of a nearby B&N store -- a good friend of a good friend -- who said she'd love to stock my book but her bosses said absolutely not.

And so it goes, and I'm still here. Loved your post, Jean. BTW, is your PP manuscript already edited by them or will they take a knife to it?

Pat Browning

Jean Henry Mead said...

Yes, some of them are beginning to catch on, although they're only publishing backlists in POD, and but a number of major writer organizations still won't accept POD books for contest entries, which isn't fair.

Mark W. Danielson said...

It's not the publisher backlists that are the problem, but rather publisher blacklists. If book stores offered more variety, there might be opportunities for small press authors. Then again, unless readers are willing to look at relatively unknown authors, the book stores cannot afford to stock their books. And so goes they cycle.

Mark W. Danielson said...

Okay, this time it's not my spelling, but my inability to proof read before "sending". Perhaps one of these days I'll get it right. :)

Jean Henry Mead said...

Don't feel like the Lone Ranger, Mark. I'm always in such a hurry that I consistently make typos. I'm also a terrible proofreader.

Bill Kirton said...

Good posting Jean - spot on the money yet again. My own feeling is that we're in a transition phase at the moment and even the big boys are realising the value - maybe even the necessity - of offering a POD option. While the shelves in the stores groan with celeb 'novels' and memoirs, lots of smaller presses and online outlets are still championing books by real writers.

Jean Henry Mead said...

Thank you, Bill. I agree that the smaller presses are doing an excellent job of filling in the "cracks" left by big publishing. They certainly deserve their due.