I became a self-publisher in 1974, when I started Word Doctor Publications. In 2001, I turned to Print-on-Demand (POD) Publishing, better named POD Partnership Publishing.
I have now published four books this way, through iUniverse.com. I am glad I did so and pleased with results.
These books include my new biblical novel, "Abraham, The Dreamer - An Erotic and Sacred Love Story," new editions of two self-published books, retitled, "A Jewish Novel About Jesus," a spiritual self-help book, "Sparks of Spirit - How to Find Love and Meaning in Your Life 24 Hours a Day," and a contemporary comedy-drama (screenplay), "The Messiah of Midtown Park."
Why did I switch from independent- or self-publishing to partnership publishing? I have three reasons: occupational preference, economics, and longevity (book survival).
After 40 years of working for a living, I was free finally to choose what I wanted to do full-time and how I wanted to do it.
OCCUPATIONAL PREFERENCE: While I find everything about books fascinating, I realized that I truly prefer writing to publishing. I'm a writer. That's my passion. I decided to concentrate on writing.
ECONOMICS: The best thing about self-publishing is that it gives author total control. But economics of self- publishing are something else again. They are not as glowing as they often sound or as rosy as they are often painted. There is a great economic squeeze play that cuts deeply into profits. Take a book that sells for $14.95, for instance. A distributor or wholesaler requires a 50 percent discount, and more. That leaves you with $7.50 (rounded off). The printing cost can be anywhere from $2 to $3 a book. That leaves you with $4.50 a book. Out of this you may have to pay shipping costs (media rate is $1.42, for one pound or less, USPS). Then there are publicity, promotion and marketing expenses. You may even have to accept returns of books that didn't sell, for credit or refund. It takes skill to operate a profitable business. I preferred challenges of writing to challenges of business.
LONGEVITY: This is a very personal, subjective matter, an "author-thing." Writing, at its deepest level, has to do with making a statement about life, asserting one's identity, seeking immortality. Commercial publishing is about bottom line: Can book make money, preferably big money? If not, it does not get published. If it does get published, it is given three to nine months to succeed. If book does not make it within that time period, its life is over.
Self-publishing, on other hand, allows for a book's nurturing and longer lifespan . But when a company changes hands or goes out of business, a book's life may end.
That is where Print-on-Demand Partnership Publishing provides an ideal answer. The new digital technology eliminates need for costly inventory. A 300-page book can be printed, cover and all, in less than 30 seconds.
POD printing/publishing allows books to be kept alive virtually "forever." -It allows books to be discovered and rediscovered. -It allows one or many copies to be printed instantly, on demand. -It allows ongoing profits to be made, by all concerned. -It allows authors to take control of writing and marketing of their books, while publisher provides technical support and services -including printing, online bookstores, author websites, listings, order fulfillment, sales- and royalty- reports, and various forms of author support.
Years ago, vanity publishers existed to publish works of amateur writers at a high cost, paid for by writer. Few of their books were actually printed and even fewer sold. These books had little if any value and were generally shunned.
Some refer to today's POD publishing as vanity publishing, or, more politely, as subsidy publishing. True, decision to publish lies with author, not publisher. It involves a nominal fee, which means that anyone can get a book published, including amateur writers.
However, POD publishing attracts a great many professional writers, with excellent track records. POD-published books get picked up by commercial publishers. POD books also generate significant media attention.
When self-publishing movement began in 1960s and 1970s, self-publishers were often stigmatized as vanity publishers. Today, self-publishing is a major, economic force. Estimates vary as to actual number of independent publishers, from 25,000 and up, and from one-title firms to firms with 2,500 titles in print.
Why would professional writers go route of Print-on-Demand Partnership Publishing? There are several reasons: their book may have been turned down by their own commercial publisher; they may not have been able to find an agent or commercial publisher; or they may not have wanted to wait nearly two years it takes to get a book published by a commercial publisher, when they could get it published within two or three months through a POD publisher. (My third POD book was in print within three weeks, from time of submission!)
Here are some examples, for instance, of professional writers who have been published through iUniverse:
RIANE EISLER - whose non-fiction book, "The Chalice and Blade" sold 600,000 copies world-wide - published "The Gate" through iUniverse, a fictionalized, dramatic new memoir of her years growing up in pre-Castro Cuba after a narrow escape from Holocaust in Nazi Europe.