Monday, April 27, 2009

To POD or not to POD

To POD or not to POD
that is the question;
Whether 'tis nobler in the mind to suffer
The slings and arrows of outrageous fortune,
Or to take arms against a sea of rejection,
And by opposing, end them. To quit, to sleep;

Apologies to William Shakespeare....

How many of you have thought about giving up the the battle to find an agent and said to yourself, I'm tired, I give up, I'm going to self-publish.

I see a few hands raised out there.

I think that quite of few people in the publishing industry see Print On Demand as just that, a metaphor for throwing in the towel. The author is just too impatient, arrogant, or otherwise bull-headed to wait until their work is good enough to be published, or realize that they don't have what it takes.

So are you ready to admit defeat and use a POD publisher to print your work? That's how publishing folks are going look upon it.

I know it's not what you want to hear, but in a lot of cases, I think they are right. I would only use a POD publisher (and did) in certain cases.

If you are writing a nonfiction book about a specific area of expertise, and you have a platform on which to sell it, then it definitely makes sense. For instance if you are an expert on financial planning and you regularly give talks on the subject, then everyone of your attendees is a potential customer. In fact you should probably arrange the cost of attendance to be such that each attendee gets a free book.

If you have a specific marketing platform that you can target then it also might make sense. Let's say you are well known in the area of knitting. You publish articles in knitting magazines, and are well known in knitting circles. You have a platform that you can market to. The only caveat is that you will probably have to write stories that appeal to that audience.

So that's the easy scenario. What if your book is literary fiction? Should you POD?

I would say no, UNLESS... you have a strong strategy for marketing it and in literary fiction, that's going to be hard.

My POD book is an aviation thriller. While I haven't written articles in aviation magazines, and am not known in that industry, I did have a specific marketing plan for the book. That is why I used a POD publisher.

I knew that the theme and story of the book would appeal very strongly to private pilots. I targeted the marketing of the book to that audience. I did it by going after the AOPA (Aircraft Owners and Pilot Association). This is a very large organization of pilots who live, breathe, and serve the interests of pilots on a daily basis. I sent a copy of the book to the president of the organization (signed of course) and he was thrilled by the story. He agreed to have the book reviewed by one of their editors and make it available to all of their members.

I don't expect to reach all of them, but even if I reach a few percent, it will have been worth my time as the organization has over 400,000 members.

The review hasn't yet been published, but I will let you know when it happens. Until then, think hard about going POD. It's not for everyone.


  1. Your marketing plan seems solid. I will be interested to hear how that plays out.

    One idea, which you may have already thought of, is to publish short stories or nonfiction articles and have a spot at the end of the article for readers to contact you online. Have you considered or tried anything like that?

  2. Dave,

    We'll see how the marketing plan works. My original idea was to get mentioned in their magazine, but they no longer review books in it.

    I have written a few short stories, but haven't really pursued where and how to publish them. Ideas are welcomed.


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