All types of publishing are influenced by Budget. Why?
• Catalogues / Advertising – The POD paradigm doesn’t allow for $$ to create a catalog of their books to send out to reviewers and bookstores. Nor do they have $$ for advertising of any kind.
• Print runs – Low print runs to keep down costs. They usually wait for the author to put forth an order before actually printing up the book.
• Return Policy – Most PODs have no return policy, meaning that bookstores can’t return the books if they don’t sell. Because of this, most stores won’t buy the books unless the customer pays up front.
• Pricing – digital printing can cost more if one doesn’t shop around. The POD passes this pricing on to the customer, which is almost always the author, not a bookstore.
• Editing and Cover design – you get what you pay for. PODs can’t afford to pay for great editors and designers. The work is often poorly edited, and in some cases only run through a spell checker. POD covers are all over the place. Some are great, others are painful. Most don’t understand the ten-foot test either – meaning you stand ten feet away to see whether the work is clear and memorable (in a good way!)
• Reviews (sending out ARCS) – All commercial presses send out Advanced Reader Copies to the big trade magazines in hopes of a review. Trade mags won’t review POD books because they know those books lack editorial quality. Reviews are important downstream when corporate buyers are looking at purchasing a title.
o Warehouse: Ingram, Baker & Taylor, Brodart. Don’t be misled. These are NOT distributors – they’re central warehousers. This is where stores invariably order from rather than calling up publishers for an order. And yes; they get their cut of the monetary pie. This means that the publisher has to discount the books. Very hard for POD companies to do because it ain’t cheap to do. For this reason, many PODs don’t list their books with the warehousers
o Independent Distributor: IPG, Consortium, Midpoint, etc. – These are the guys who work their butts off to get a small indie press nationally carried. In order to be a part of these types, you have to have a damn good product. They have a full national sales force who push a publisher’s titles into the hands of store buyers and libraries. Again, they get their piece of the pie.
o Getting into the bookstores’ database – Many POD’s don’t bother sending their books to the corporate buyers for consideration of purchase. Even if they have no hope of having their titles bought, it gets their books into the bookstores’ systems. This means that if someone comes in to order a POD book, the first thing the employee will do is see if it’s in their database. If it isn’t, no order will be made and the author has lost a sale.