As regular readers know, I put a collection of short stories on Smashwords four months ago, where it can be sampled, purchased and downloaded in various e-book formats. I now want to make a print-on-demand (POD) version of that content available, so people can order a physical copy of the book. (This post rejoins a conversation I had with myself — and many helpful commenters — shortly after making the e-book available. More here and here.)
There are a lot of companies offering print-on-demand publishing to independent authors. I also know there are a lot of disreputable companies — known variously as vanity or subsidy publishers — whose business model is predicated on charging abusive up-front fees for middling or nonexistent services. Industry propaganda against fee-for-service publishing says that money should flow to the author, not from the author, but as I noted late last year that propaganda has always been a self-serving fraud. Authors can be ripped off by anyone.
For any independent author, controlling costs and maximizing each dollar spent is critical. Philosophically I don’t care whether costs are up-front, fee-for-service charges or back-end participation. What matters is getting the most service or product for my money. As a practical matter, however, minimizing out-of-pocket costs is important because it preserves operating capital. The longer I can keep my head above water the longer I can write, and the longer I can write the more chance I have of seeing a profit. [ Read more ]