Monday, November 19, 2007

The Benefits of Print-On-Demand

Print-on-demand is being increasingly
mentioned nowadays, especially as an alternative to large print-runs
and expensive inventory-carrying costs. For first-time, amateur and
self-publishing authors, the benefits are fairly obvious. However,
companies too can benefit from print-on-demand and realize a
significant reduction in their administrative costs. Some of the
organizations that can benefit from print-on-demand are:

a. Schools and Educational Institutions: Students
now expect to be spoken to and print-on-demand allows that. By
tailoring college admission forms and prospectuses, students can be
made to feel that the college actually cares about them. Placement
brochures can also be developed according to the company being targeted
- having profiles of only the interested students. Back in the
classroom, professors have taken to compiling notes, that can be
updated each time advances in the particular field occur. Professors
may also choose to compile their lecture notes into a convenient text
book to be distributed only among students.

b. Small and Medium Enterprises: SMEs stand to
benefit for many reasons, particularly due to the fact that budgets are
small. Print-on-demand allows SMEs to target their marketing campaign
brochures and pamphlets, designing a different one for each customer.
It affords SMEs the professionalism of handsome looking financial
reports and user-manuals without the (financial) burden of large print
runs. Most print-on-demand companies, including CinnamonTeal Print
& Publishing Services, also offer delivery as part of their
services and this allows SMEs to outsource this mundane, yet
time-consuming, task. These benefits can be accrued by NGOs too.

c. Large Enterprises: Large enterprises can do well
to rid itself of the costs of having a small print shop within its four
walls by engaging the services of a print-on-demand provider. Such an
initiative allows corporations to have their many documents printed,
handsomely bound and dispatched without having to worry too much about
the logistical and administrative aspects of the tasks. Such
corporations can also endear themselves to new employees and their
families by developing material handed over during induction that is
more personalized than just “Hello Vinay”. Personalized literature may
include a photograph of the new employee along with his/her personal
information and benefits.

d. Publishing Houses: Print-on-demand can help make
available backlists, out-of-print, and “Long Tail” content. In a
country like India, this is especially significant as information can
be disseminated according to its relevance to a particular region.
Publishers can use print-on-demand to print copies of books when
individual or small batch orders are reported, or when it appears that
there is renewed interest in a title. The publisher can do this without
having to invest time and money in large print runs and expensive
storage, thereby betting against uncertain demand.

e. Libraries and Bookstores: Many libraries have
taken to print-on-demand to meet the need for books, especially those
out of copyright. Instead of ordering for copies of a book and, perhaps
losing a customer, print-on-demand seems a better option to instantly
gratify the customer. The same holds for bookstores too, legal issues

f. Marketing Agencies: Print-on-demand allows
marketing agencies to deliver very personalized messages to prospective
customers. These messages could have information tailored to ones
tastes and preferences as well as reflect regional conditions.
Marketing material such as brochures for an apparel firm could,
therefore, market a different set of clothes line for customers living
in Chennai and a different set for customers living in Jammu.

Print-on-demand is also about being responsible about your
investments and thinking strategically about areas where savings can be
realised. To see how print-on-demand can help your company, do write to
us at or visit our website at
CinnamonTeal Print & Publishing Services is a print-on-demand
service provider, the only one in India that publishes any number of
copies, from 1 to 1000.

Saturday, November 17, 2007

Does Self-Publishing Wreck Poetry Careers?

Posted by Robert

Received this question via e-mail from poet Liesl Garner:

"Last year I performed a poetry show at our local Fringe Festival. I got wonderful reviews, and I am performing a Repeat Performance in October of this year. The Fringe Festival is every Spring, and I plan to participate each year. After my first show, I was asked if I had my poetry printed in a chapbook for sale. I didn't, but for the Repeat Performance I want to have that available for audience members. I'm actually thinking of doing a chapbook for each year's performance. Is it bad for my hopes and dreams of someday becoming a published poet to be doing my own publishing of chapbooks?

"Currently, I just don't have the time to be submitting with the numbers I would have to in order to get noticed by a publisher. However, on my local scene, I have a large fan base that wants to see my work in print.

"Thanks, Liesl Garner"

Before I get into my ramble, you should probably read Nancy's Published Is Published post about what self-publishing will do to those poems that are self-published in the eyes of editors. Then, come back here to read what I have to say.

(Tapping on desk as Liesl reads Nancy's post. Ba-ba-ba. Humming to self.)


Okay then.

So you now know that self-publishing any of your poems will have editors considering those specific poems already published, right? That doesn't mean your career is over, it just means these specific poems are now only available as reprints. This fact can hurt when submitting to poetry journals and magazines or even chapbook contests. But the publication of some of your poems does not affect what you do with other poems that are not self-published.

If you decide that for the current crop of poems you wish to self-publish that it is okay if they risk being only available in your self-published chapbook format, then you should go for it. More and more poets are doing this. However, if you wish to see any of these specific poems in some journal or future chapbook competition winning collection, you may not want to include in your self-publishing effort.

As far as actually self-publishing, I advise you to either go with a local printer that you can work with directly--or there are some online POD companies that allow you to print and publish only one book at a time, which dramatically lowers the investment you have to make in your self-publishing venture. I'm sure some very nice poets (hint, hint) could even give suggestions in the blog comments below. Even if not, that's why God created Google; just type "POD Publishers" into Google, and you will receive plenty of online resources of how and who to proceed with.

On another note, there's no shame in self-publishing. Through the ages, poets have been especially prone to self-publication. And that trend only seems to be expanding even more with online and POD technologies now available to poets.

Just remember: Self-publishing does equal publishing. So those specific poems that are self-published could pay the price with publishers in the short term. Of course, most poets would agree that you're not risking much financially by self-publishing over traditional publication. For many, the main goal is to just reach an engaged audience.




Friday, November 16, 2007

Self-Publishing The Hard Way: The Art Of Giving Birth

You know? When you publish a book and send it out into the world, it 's like giving birth to a baby. Everyone checks out your baby. Is it breath-taking? Does it have ten toes and ten fingers? Is it pink and sweet or does it look like an extra from "Alien?" We writers are baring our souls, our deepest thoughts, and our feelings lay open like a cavernous wound. We can't hide anymore. They know us inside and out. Now they see our baby, and they get to pick it to pieces, bit by bit, until the only thing left is a fuzzy blanket.

Oh, hell, we know that and go right on writing, don't we? It 's in our DNA. We can't help ourselves, we're masochists.

When I started this whole book-writing process, I had full intentions of finding an agent and/or a traditional publisher; they'd do all the work while I sat back and listened to "Ca-ching, Ca-ching." However my journey to that end has been long and stress-filled and I ended up doing just the opposite...I'd kept a daily journal while living in Thailand in the 90s. When I returned to the States, I copied my journal onto a floppy and had it printed, spiral-bound, and mailed it out to friends and family so they could read about all my trials and tribs while abroad. One of the friends who read it insisted that I make a book out of it.

"You know," she said, "like the book 'A Year in Provence.'" I immediately ran out and bought the book and was amazed at the problems that the author had endured in a short year. I just knew that if his book sold, then mine would also, however, life got in the way of living and I put it aside.

I joined some creative writing classes a few years later, and with encouragement from my peers I began the long road of putting the journal into book form. In 2003, when I finally thought I'd finished it, I entered it into the Southern California Writers Conference in San Diego. While there, I read chapters from my story in the Read and Critique groups and the attendees laughed in all the right places and even clapped, (I'd hoped it wasn’t because they were happy I'd finished). At the end of the conference I was notified that I'd won the Best Nonfiction award for my story and an agent asked for my manuscript. Wow! That just doesn’t happen unless they love it! I knew I was ready for the Pulitzer.

Then I began to panic. What if it isn't perfect? I had talked to a "book doctor" at the conference who advised me that my story "…needed some conflict. Who really cares about a housewife who 's having a good time in Thailand? Give them a reason to turn the page." Okay, that 's what I'll do. There certainly was plenty of conflict in my life in Thailand, but I'd left it out; it was painful to relive and I wanted it to be a humorous book. I emailed the agent and told her I wasn't ready. Take your time, she’d said. It 's not time sensitive.

So began the journey of "weaving" the conflict into my story. It was the hardest thing I'd ever done. It was three years before I felt it was good enough to be a real book. But, those three years were not only spent rewriting. I took online writing classes and signed up at the local college for creative writing classes, I attended a critique group every week, putting my chapters up to their scrutiny as they tore it apart and helped put it back together. The rest of the time I was editing my life away. But as Stephen King says in his book On Writing: edit, edit and edit. And when you think it 's perfect, edit some more. My husband had a name for my constant editing: "Paralysis by analysis."

When I felt I had everything in place, I looked for professional editing. I first paid the book doctor $500 to tell me that it needed help. He didn't give me any, just told me it needed it. I found a line-editor in Canada, who did a great job, and then I hired a freelance editor; total for both $600; quite inexpensive in today 's editing market.

During those three years, I also did a lot of reading on the publishing world; agents, print-on-demand (PODs) and off-set printing companies. I attended conferences specifically on "How to get published." The more I heard and read, the more I thought: From all the conferences I'd attended, the agent panels were the most disillusioning. I learned that agents don't want you if you've not been published, and publishers don't want you if you've not been published, or don't have an agent, who doesn't want you either. Who needs 'em?

Publishers don't want you if you don't have a "platform!" A what? To my dismay I learned that I needed to have my own buying public. There was no publisher that was going to run out and sell my book for me, pay for my cross-country book signings and hotel rooms, unless of course I was a King or a Grisham or a Joyce Carol Oates. Then of course, there 's the eighteen month wait for the book to appear on the shelves after the publisher accepts it (if the publisher doesn't decide to pull the plug at the last minute), and don't forget the two years that it takes the agent to shop around for a publisher who might decide to pull the plug at the last minute. Who has that long? I don't even buy green bananas anymore.

Wow! I remember my table mates and I frowning as we listened to the dire answers of this panel of agents and publishers. So how do we get published? Well, we have two options so it seemed: 1) have an agent living next door who loves your home cooked brownies or has a crush on your husband, or 2) know a publisher whose kid mows your lawn or has a crush on you. Not living in New York was going to be a definite drawback. Should I move? Okay, how about a POD? I was fortunate to have a friend who is a small press publisher of railroad books. He offered to put my manuscript into a Quark Express PDF file (which is the format printers prefer). He did an incredible job putting it together for me. He felt that if I had the print setup taken care of, I could approach a POD and save some money.

I signed up for the POD classes at the conferences I attended, where they explained everything I needed to know about their business ─ except how they kept most of the author 's money while they got big and rich and the author got $3.09 per book. Okay, well, $3.09 a book is not that bad. Maybe I could make it. But, wait, I had to pay them to print my book, and then pay them to buy my book back from them; too many "thems" going on here. Something didn't compute. Maybe I should chuck the book and go into the POD business.

Well, I succumbed. I bought a book called The Fine Print of Self Publishing by Mark Levine, an attorney, then sat down to do some homework. After going over all the PODs he listed with a fine-tooth calculator, I realized that I could pay as much as $30,000 to one such POD group, but hey, my books would be free. How generous of them. Or, I could choose a POD group charging as low as $299, but I'd still have to buy my own books back at about $8.00 each.

I finally settled on a firm I'll call "Dewey Cheatem & Howe" (name changed to protect the guilty), and thought I'd finally get on with this damn book printing. They sent me a sample of their work that was done beautifully. I signed on the dotted line, waited three more weeks and then my author 's copy was delivered. And there it sat. On my desk. Opened to the first page, which I couldn't read. I started bawling. Where is my baby? The font was so garbled that it was illegible. There was a space after every capital letter and the other letters were so piled on each other you couldn't make out the words.

When I'd used all the Kleenex in my desk drawer, I called them. Of course, no one was on the other end, save for the automated voice of their mailboxes. But at least I got rid of my postpartum anger. I cried and said very imperiously, "HOLD THE PRESSES! I will not accept this book. I will call Visa (of course they already had my money) and stop payment and …" I felt like an inner tube impaled on a sharp rock. Then I called my friend, the publisher. "Of course you can do this on your own. You have the file, just find a good printing company."

I inquired around and found out that I could get my book printed overseas at half the cost of stateside. I began to get phone numbers and surfed websites. There were some good deals to be made overseas; however, the problem was I needed a broker. So after the broker took his cut, and the shipping charges were added, a stateside printer looked better. Plus, the thought of having a problem and not being able to connect at once with your printer was worrisome.

I searched the Internet and found many websites where you could input the details of your book, number of pages, size of book, print run, etc., and within a week I got a bid from ten printing companies. After picking one printer (not the cheapest), I felt we had a fit. I spoke to the owner, who offered to throw in a hundred free books, which might have had something to do with my decision. He checked out my website while we were speaking, loved the site and the look of my book and of course, he had me. He also offered storage and order fulfillment. Now, all I had to do was put our house on the market and clear out our 401K.

I know what you're thinking. Sure, maybe she has it, but not everyone can come up with that much money. Yes, you can if you want to. We took an equity line on our home and as the money comes rolling in, I'll be making payments on the equity line. We authors must be optimists. Really! If you don't believe in your book, who will?

I ran off my own bookmarks and saved a few hundred dollars. I used the cover of the book, wrote a short synopsis on the back, and had 500 printed. I have handed out those bookmarks on airplanes and in airports; Seattle, Palm Desert, San Diego, Portugal, New York, Australia, New England… well maybe not personally, but I've given them to people who live in those places and they were happy to have them and said they'd pass them on. I've handed them out in restaurants to women sitting around me; two of them bought my book right on the spot. My friends call me "A self-promoting slut."

I have to leave you now, as that 's where I am in this wonderful world of the written word, where the writing was easy… now comes the hard part ─ marketing!

About the Author

Dodie Cross is a freelance writer who has received numerous awards for her writing and poetry. Dodie has traveled the world, writing about her life in foreign countries. Learn more at:


Thursday, November 15, 2007

10 Easy Steps to Becoming a Best-Selling Christian Author

by: Scott Douglas

Step One – Degrees, degrees, and more degrees. No one can be a Christian author without having several degrees. This presents the false image that you are smart, and therefore are perfectly capable of writing a propaganda novel.

Several Christian institutes offer degrees for people who don’t actually attend college, or do any work—take full advantage of these. Stay away from institutes that offer BA’s and MA’s—go right for the PhD programs, then people will think you’re super smart.

Step Two – Start up non-profit organizations. This will give the false image that you are a good person, and therefore are perfectly capable of writing a propaganda novel. There’s really no need to spend anytime running these organizations—it’s the name that’s important, so spend all of your time coming up with a really catchy name. Keep in mind that no one is going to actually research that this is a legitimate non-profit organization, so don’t stress out when you start feeling guilty for not actually doing anything. Christian’s never actually do research, so you’re in the clear on this one.

Step Three – Research. If people are going to take you seriously, then you have to pretend you have spent researching your book. How do you research a topic that you haven’t even thought up yet? Easy, you don’t. You don’t actually research during this step—you just have to make people think you did. Spend time in the library reading comics; this will help you while trying to think up funny antidotes for your yet to be written story.

Step Four – Think up what you’re going to write about. Don’t worry about knowing anything about your topic—you can get this experience after you complete the book. Think up something controversial and catchy. Don’t worry about creating a factual story in this step—you can make truth later. Writing about a group of liberal scientist using stem cell research to create cloned homosexual monkeys, for example, would be a perfect topic—it’s timely, controversial, and catchy.

Step Five – Attend Christian writing conferences. This will give you time to relax, while making your family believe you are working on something important. Talk to agents, editors, and other writers about what you are currently working on. Make sure you emphasize your achievements running non-profit organizations, and your multiple degrees—this will really impress them.

Step Six – Write. You will learn quickly about procrastination, so set goals. Spend no more then two weeks writing your book; this time span will prevent you from being tempted into conducting research and interviews. It’s important to write whatever pops into your mind. This will give the book lots of energy.

Step Seven – Create truth. If you have written about something that doesn’t really exist, then make it exist. For example, if you were writing about liberal scientist using stem cell research to create cloned homosexual monkeys, take the time now to fund such research.

Step Eight – Give yourself creditability. This step is especially important if you have written about something you do not know about. Don’t spend time learning factual information about the topic, there really is no need, and you want to get the book publish ASAP so you can write several more just like it.

Step Nine – Publish your book. If no respectable publisher takes you seriously, then self-publish. Publishers will be begging to sign your next book once they see you racking in the dough.

Step Ten – Travel the lecture circuit. This step is important if you want people to actually buy your book. Remember that when lecturing, the angrier you sound, the more people will take you seriously and buy your book. Also, remember to spend at least ten to twenty minutes boasting about your multiple PhDs and how you single-handedly started several non-profit organizations that the world has greatly benefited from.

Visit for more articles from the author.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Children’s Books with POD Self-Publishing

Several posts ago I mentioned that POD is least effective for children's book publishing. I'll explain why I believe that. There are a couple of reasons, but they are all related to production cost. Of course, when I say "children's book" I mean a book with full color images or illustrations inside. Here's a shocker: it is more expensive to print a book that has full color pages than to print a book that only has black and white pages. Here's another shocker: most children's book are shorter than normal books.

Most POD production costs are based upon the page count of the book. From what I can tell, those PODs who offer full-color printing do so at prices that range from 12 cents to 40 cents per color page. Blurb and CafePress and Lulu are at the upper end (no surprise there, they don't have up-front fees and make up for it by up-charging on a per-page basis). Xlibris, Outskirts Press, Trafford, and AuthorHouse are fee-based POD services that also offer full-color printing. Their per-page printing seems to be toward the lower end of that scale. Let's say 20 cents per page for a mathematical example.

Let's assume the children's book is a typical 32 page book. That's $6.4 just for the interior of the book. All these publishers (even the free ones) add on a "binding fee" to the production cost of the book (which is either a base production fee on top of which the page count fee is added, or an "up charge" that is basically ensures their profit). Since most of these places use Lightning Source for their printing, and LSI charges 90 cents for a paperback binding, let's go with that number. Hell, let's give each of these places 10 cents per book (because they are businesses and have to make some money, somewhere -- it's only fair, right?). So, that's $6.4 for the interior printing and $1 for the paperback cover. That's $7.4 for the production cost of the book, minimum.

There are various schools of thought on what a retail price should be for a book. Some "experts" say you should multiply your production cost by 2.5 (giving you a retail price of $18.50 for our example). Others say you should multiply it by 8 (giving you a retail price of $59.2). Of course, those who say you should multiply it by 8 are printing 10,000 copies in China for $1 a book. That's about as far from the POD business model as you can get.

So, we'll stick with the 2.5 x philosophy to make it easy. That provides a retail price of $18.50 for a 32 page children's book. Does that sound high to you? In relation to the other children's books you have seen on the shelf? Of course it is.

It gets worse. Most commercial children's books are in hardcover. The minute you add hardcover binding to the POD production process, that $1 "binding fee" from above turns into $5. Now you're looking at a 32 page book over $20.

Lightning Source, Inc. currently doesn't offer hardback books for their full color printing. Therefore, some publishers engage in a bait and switch. Xlibris, for example, offers hardback full color books in their marketing materials, but if you carefully read the fine print, you discover that a paperback edition will be the one that is distributed through Ingram (due to the LSI shortcomings above). Xlibris isn't the only one who does this. Lulu uses Color Centric out of New York to print the books their authors buy direct, but they use Lightning Source to print the distributed versions. Same as Xlibris, they also clarify in small print that a paperback edition of the full-color book is what is distributed. I wonder how many of their "1 million registered users" are blissfully unaware of this. Well, since Lulu books sell an average of 1.8 copies each, and 1 copy is required to be purchased by the author herself, that leaves .8 copies that are purchased from either the Lulu website, or through distribution online. So, in other words, no one is buying the LSI versions of Lulu's books. Their secret is safe. I wonder if the same holds true for Xlibris...


Is Self Publishing the Right Choice for You and Your Book?

Copyright (c) 2007 Gail Richards

Self-publishing, although not a new phenomenon, is now a legitimate acceptable route to a published book for an author. In the self-publishing model, the author keeps the rights to his or her book but pays all the costs for producing, printing, and marketing the book and other ancillary products.

Self-publishing is a better option than it once was because technological advances have made it easier for an author to write, design, and create her own book. In addition, it is now more cost-effective to print in smaller quantities, meaning that the initial investment in printing and inventory is now more feasible for the average person.

To self-publish, an author must have enough capital to produce the book and enough time to write, produce, market, and ship the product. In essence, he or she starts a new business around his or her book.

One of the important choices to be made by self-publishers is to select a printer. Today, a number of printers specialize in books, particularly in printing small quantities. These are known as print-on-demand (POD) publishers. They are primarily printers, but they may add editorial or marketing services.

Most authors think of the difficulty of self-publishing as the logistics of knowing how to get a book designed and typeset and how much to spend to get a book printed. But this is the easy part. What is much more difficult is getting your book marketed appropriately and distributed in some way. It is still a reality that self-published books rarely find their way to bookstore shelves on a national level, and it is equally hard to find a distributor for them.

The other drawback of self-publishing is that the printer will print whatever you send. If you send a book that hasn't been edited or proofread or that isn't commercially viable (meaning there really isn't an audience), the printer will do just as beautiful a job as if the book were an award-winner. In other words, no one will stop you from spending money on a book that isn't ready for publication.

Another approach is for the author to choose self-publishing first, establishing the book as viable in the market and then shopping for a traditional publisher. This accomplishes several objectives, one of which is to allow you to have a product to sell much more quickly since the typical traditional publisher will take twelve to eighteen months to get your book on the market after you sign the contract.

If you self-publish initially, you are likely to be more patient and find just the right publisher because you won't be in a hurry to get your book out. In addition, a traditional publisher will continue to allow you to sell your book while they are preparing your book with them. You will have a product to sell during a little over a year's preparation. The traditionally published book, in essence, becomes the second edition of your book.

About the Author

Gail Richards
is founder of a dynamic website connecting aspiring authors with the classes, audio library, tools, information and resources needed to make smart, informed decisions at each step in the nonfiction book publishing journey. Jan King is the founder of a membership organization devoted to supporting and coaching women who become successfully published nonfiction authors.