Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Print on demand: Good or Bad for the value of the Book?

Print-on-Demand certainly has changed the face of publishing today.  More authors are able to put their work in print and send it out to the marketplace. Problem is, many authors end up in Print-on-Demand strategies without having the benefit of a professional book editor's careful pen nor the experience and knowledge of a book designer.  Nearly every day, we hear authors tell us that their manuscript is ready to go -- and despite our assessment, they often refuse any editorial assistance. 

We won't publish a book that isn't professionally edited; but that isn't the policy of POD houses -- therein lies the problem. Sure they will upsell the service, but if an author doesn't want it, they will publish it anyway.  Bad idea! The industry and public see these ill-written and poorly produced books from POD authors and publishers, and it shores up their claims that all self publishing is bad.  It isn't.  There are a lot of professionals in the marketplace that can help create high quality products and, thankfully, lots of authors using them; but some authors cut costs where they shouldn't. Well, they shoot themselves and every other independent self publishing author in the foot because they contribute to the overall image of self publishing. It's a universe, not a microcosm.

We asked independent author/publishers what they thought about the trend.  Here's a response from publisher, author, and editor John Hlavacek. John was previously with a POD house and had hired his own professional book editor and submitted a clean manuscript.  When all was said and done, he was unhappy with the overall results of the POD experience because he was part of the same pool of so many authors who didn't have their book edited, and made everyone look bad to the industry.  He's now his own micro-publisher and hires professional services, controlling all aspects of his publishing:  Here's what he had to say:
Yes. Print on demand publishing loses the public's interest because they believe that the authors are amateurs. The reading public believes that only a book that has been publicized by an agent and a large book publisher with advertising money and an advance to the author can be worthwhile. In POD, only authors with a large network of family and friends who can "spread the word" can truly be successful. This perception has been perpetuated by the large publishing houses and those whose bread is buttered by the traditional publishing industry.
 John Hlavacek, Hlucky Books www.hluckybooks.com/

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