Mar 30 2009
The Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America have an interesting article on some of the problems with POD self-publishing. In summary…
1. The average POD title sells a frightfully low amount of copies. The average POD title sells 100-200 copies. That is not enough to live on. That is not enough to convince a publisher that there is a market for your work. That is probably not even enough to break even on your expenses (publishing fees, cover-art, editing, etc).
2. It is astronomically unlikely that your POD book will become even a modest success. In 2007, only 4% of Xlibris’s titles sold more than 1000 copies. Hardly any Lulu titles crack 500.
3. Bookstores hate dealing with POD titles. Given that brick-and-mortar bookstores account for about 90% of all new book sales, that will seriously limit your potential for sales.
4. POD titles are substantially more expensive than professionally-published titles. Professional books are printed in bulk, which reduces the per-unit printing costs dramatically. As a result, a professional paperback usually sells for around $15. POD paperbacks tend to sell for $25+. Ick.
5. POD books are often printed poorly. If someone pays $25 for a paperback, he will expect something better than the professional novels he could have bought for $15. If your book is bound like a pamphlet, your customers will be angry.
6. Most professionals and advance readers won’t even touch a POD book. You’ll have to publicize your book in some other way.
7. Royalties are usually lower than they appear. Read the fine print of your contract. Most POD publishers base your royalty on the net price, not the retail price. They won’t pay royalties on the (large) portion of the retail price that goes to cover their costs. Unfortunately, POD publishers are notoriously inefficient and spend a lot of money printing each book. That’s why you have to sell for more than $15, remember?