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(Daddy is in that group, by way. How about your family?)
Places who publish only POD began by accepting anything sent their way. Pay your money, and do your own editing and marketing. This gave POD a credibility problem. There are POD outfits who don't operate this way, but credibility problem will take time to heal.
As an author, your goal is to write what's in your heart, find people who like to read what you like to write, and get it out to them. (That's my goal, anyway.) If your name happens to be Tom Clancy, that equals many readers. But that's simply luck of draw.
Many of us don't have such mass appeal. Possibly you're sort of writer who knows exactly where you stand in that respect. But many don't, and they're flooding POD market with stuff that most readers just plain don't want. Add to that badly edited stuff, and credibility problem with POD is understandable.
Ideally, what you want is for your e-publisher to simultaneously release your book in both formats without charging a POD setup fee. That way, you can direct all your promotional efforts to that single URL. However, these e-publishers have a real problem with backlog now, so if you want to travel road I did, you'll need much more patience than I did.
Taking advantage of a free POD option with your e-book will also help your promotional efforts. Many reviewers just plain won't touch an e-book. If you've done POD bit, in addition to being able to tell all your friends and family, "Look at this, I'm a real author because here's paperback," you'll be able to send review copies via POD to those book reviewers.
If you find yourself with an e-publisher who doesn't offer free POD, you may wish to shop around for a POD publisher. As you do this, remember business model. If a publisher makes all its money from writers, it doesn't need to sell a single book to a single reader to stay in business.
No matter how much praise they send your way, that's bottom line. Writing is a calling, but publishing is a business. Those authors who can't distinguish between two are what keep opportunists in business. I was such an author for most of my life.
Some POD places are no more than thinly veiled vanity (or subsidy) presses. They have a role to serve, but let's be honest. Most do no editing, and they don't care. They may not be making a massive profit from your setup fees, but they're making enough to stay in business. Even if you don't sell any books to anyone except your Gramma.
Earlier, I recommended e-publishing before print publishing for free editing you'll receive. If you're going with POD, consider it mandatory. Either that, or pay an editor. The author who can write a mistake-free manuscript does not exist.
Still interested in POD publishing? Here are questions you should ask yourself when you select a POD publisher:
A) Sale price of each book 1) Who decides what it is? 2) Will readers pay that much?
B) Profit per sale vs. your setup cost 1) How many copies must you sell to break even? 2) Can you do it? 3) If not, do you care? How big of a financial hit are you willing to take just to see your name in print?
As a rule, US$100 or less setup cost is good and US$1000 is very bad. The latter, no matter how much publicity they promise you, is only a thinly disguised vanity publisher. You won't sell enough books to recoup that $1000 unless you're a real marketing machine. Even then you shouldn't pay $1000. It won't get you anything that $100 won't.
If POD place only prints "trade paperbacks," which are larger ones, your cost per book (and sale price per book) will be higher than if you can print "mass-market paperbacks." The choice is yours, but whatever you decide, visit local bookstores and price similar-sized books. If you write like Stephen King but charge twice as much per book, readers are going to buy author they've heard of, and that's probably not you. Yet...
A comprehensive list of POD publishers, along with descriptions, can be found on-line at http://dehanna.com/database.htm
It fails to mention Booksurge (http://www.booksurge.com), also known as Digitz (http://www.digitz.net). US$99. I have no experience with them, but I've heard only good things about them.
Another that isn't mentioned is Digital Print Australia at http://www.digitalprintaustralia.com. I've used them. My setup cost was AUD$35 (roughly US$18 back then), which compares rather favorably to those listed.
Their price per copy is also excellent. The quality equals what you'll find in bookstores. If you've ever bought a paperback from Writers Exchange, you've seen it. If not, Digital Print will send you a free sample. They sent mine to China.
Two problems you may have with them, though, are shipping charges from Australia if that's not where your readers are located, and fact that they don't offer a way to sell books on their site.
Michael LaRocca's website at http://www.chinarice.org was chosen by WRITER'S DIGEST as one of The 101 Best Websites For Writers in 2001 and 2002. His response was to throw it out and start over again because he's insane. He teaches English at a university in Hangzhou, Zhejiang Province, China, and publishes the free weekly newsletter WHO MOVED MY RICE?