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  1. #1
    Richard Fulgham
    Guest

    Just a comment ref. POD

    My conclusion after studying the POD publishing racket is that the problem is over-pricing the product. I mean, I have a 120 page book I'd love see in print. But who's going to buy it when the POD publisher tacks a $20 price tag on it? And that's for paperback. However, I do see publishing online as e-books or articles in ezines as potentially helpful, especially in promoting upcoming books. That's my impression so far. Richard.



  2. #2
    Gary Kessler
    Guest

    Re: Just a comment ref. POD

    Richard: Particularly since it's happening across the industry, it's quite likely the problem isn't really overpricing of the book. The real problem is probably that the POD process still costs significantly more in relationship to traditional publishing processes than the traffic will bear. It all boils down to someone being willing to take big risk up front--someone paying up front for a number of books that will make a profit at a reasonable price if enough of them are sold--using the prerun printing process.

    Traditional publishers take this risk. POD producers don't take this risk. Those who do take the risk but use the POD production method are actually traditional publishers, because POD is a type of production, not a type of publisher.

  3. #3
    Karen Syed
    Guest

    Re: Just a comment ref. POD

    This is not necessarily true about the overpricing. A lot of the over-pricing is the publisher. They set the price and they have to be willing to make minimal money in the short line to build a reputation for the long run.

    A 120 page book would definitely be more in POD than from a traditional, but it could plausibly be sold for as little as 9.99 and while yes, that is higher, it is not $20.00.

    We have made the sacrifice with some of our authors, but it will pay off for us in the long run because we will sell more books and hopefully make the money with increased sales.

    Karen Syed, Echelon Press
    www.echelonpress.com

  4. #4
    Gary Kessler
    Guest

    Re: Just a comment ref. POD

    Karen:

    But I presume that you are selective with your books and start out with the thought that you'll sell enough in the long run to make a profit at a lower market price. POD producers that are not selective and publish whatever comes their way (which is the type of publisher queried on this string) have no expectations of profits on a number of sales. They have to clear enough of a profit to pay their payroll and other attached costs starting with book one.

    You've exaggerated prices in both directions, I think, as well. I don't think it would be worth a POD producer's time/effort to price a book as low as $9.99 in any event, because just the printing of the book would cost them $6.00 and there is a royalty plus other costs it would have to share (e.g., payroll costs, office costs, web advertising, distribution). And at the other end, I know of no POD producer that charges $20.00 for a 120-page book.

  5. #5
    Karen Syed
    Guest

    Re: Just a comment ref. POD

    Not to offer too much info here, but wouldn't it be more to the benefit of the author to find publishers who do in fact look at the big picture?

    For example. Take a 165 page book, in POD (set up fees aside-this is the publisher's responsibility) the cost for printing per copy is $3.54 sold at $10.99, but running the other end of the board we have a book that is 376 pages and still only sold at $14.99. We are still making money. These are not estimations, these are actual costs.

    We have an author with a title at XLibris it is in the 120 page range and is selling...or actually sitting with no sales at $21.99. Ridiculous, but the author has no control over that price and has not sold more than a handful of books, literally.

    As a publisher, yes we are VERY selective about what we publish, but so are Penguin and Harlequin, etc. That is the purpose of publishing--to succeed. Why would an author go with a publisher just because they would publish anything? With a cost as mentioned above, our royalties rate is a little higher than traditional pubs, we have less expense at the moment, and we are looking at the overall success of the company in regard to the sales of "all" the books we publish. We obviously cannot rely on one "great" author/book. I think I am talking in circles here, it is 5 am, POD can be done, but it must be done carefully and if an author is serious about their career and not just willing to publish with any John Doe who says they are a publisher, both the author and the publisher can make money.

    This sounds like I am being argumentative, but I am simply trying to convey to people that there are POD's out there who are in it for the long haul and willing to do whatever it takes to make money and sell books with the author's best interest in mind.

    Karen Syed, Echelon Press
    www.echelonpress.com

  6. #6
    Gary Kessler
    Guest

    Re: Just a comment ref. POD

    Karen:

    We are talking apples and oranges here. The POD publishers I have taken Richard to mean (and that I believe he does mean) are those that will publish an author's book on demand--not by selection.

    Looking at the big picture isn't really the point. POD producers publishing on demand are looking at the big picture just as much as a traditional publisher is that publishes using the POD process but that is selective in what it will publish. In the former, the big picture (very realistically) shows that the book likely isn't going to sell many copies. Ergo the per-unit cost has to be high so that the fewer number of copies can cover the setup costs and the relatively higher POD production cost over bulk preprint printing processes. In the latter, the publisher is sharing costs across it's whole line of books, some of which are doing quite well profitably (if the publisher is going to stay in business).

    You keep wanting to talk about publishers who use the POD printing technique but who are selective in what they publish, so they have a higher expectation of a higher number of per-title sales (thus permitting lower per-unit sales points). Your discussion is all very nice in getting authors to try to get published through your company, but it is not responsive to the pricing of on-demand POD producer books.

    Two questions, however:

    1. Would very much like to know what POD process you use that comes up with a $3.54 per-unit cost for setup plus printing. (Or do you own your own equipment?) Most POD producers use Lightning Source, which charges much more than that for per-unit printing alone (minus the upfront setup costs). A new company (Libris) is about to go public with an enhancement on Lightning Source by printing books near the location of the client rather than in one central printing center--but the per-unit costs of this are near the $6.00 per-unit costs (minus setup costs) as well.

    2. Please do name POD producers that will publish on demand, will price copies of books competively (with print production), and that will have the author's best interests in mind during the process (which, of course, would mean that it would competently edit the book without added cost, wouldn't it? --Because a publisher wouldn't have the author's best interest in mind to allow their book to go out unedited and because if the author had to pay for the edit, wouldn't this up the per-unit cost of the book--and thus the retail price--considerably?).

    By the way, who edits the books your company publishes--and who pays for the edit? If your company pays, what are the credentials of your editors for editing books?

  7. #7
    Fred
    Guest

    Re: Just a comment ref. POD

    A quick comment and question for anyone here...
    Richard's original comment indicated pricing as the major stumbling block facing POD authors. There are some PODs, which are often referred to here as vanity PODs, who do have their own printing equipment and only use Lightning Source for orders taken through Ingram; i.e. they use their own facilities for books sold from their own web sites. I have a book coming out from one such POD. It is 265 pages long and is priced just under sixteen dollars. That's still a high price tag, I admit, but for a book that length, it is considerably lower than most other PODs on the web would charge. However I don't believe that's the major problem. The BIG problem that needs to be solved is not the pricing, but rather the no consignment no return policy which plagues the industry. Since companies like Echelon are selective about their authors, just how much confidence do they have in that selection process? Enough to break tradition and market their better selling titles in the same manor traditional publishers do? Enough to offer them on consignment and to accept returns? I just havn't seen any evidence that this whole screening process really makes that much difference.

  8. #8
    Gary Kessler
    Guest

    Re: Just a comment ref. POD

    Fred: I believe that getting the books into readers' hands is the real problem (it's a problem for all types of publishing, but particularly for self-publishing, POD producers, and vanity presses, because these types of publishers have policies that throw up barriers to getting the books into readers' hands rather than helping to do so). Book pricing is a problem, but only in that it's an element that keeps readers from buying the books. The no return policy of all but traditional publishers is another element in keeping the books out of readers' hands. (The lack of promotion except for websites where no one shops--or is going to be looking for that particular book--is another one, as is the substandard condition of most such books because no competent edit has been performed.)

    Yes, I agree that the question of what Echelon's returns policy is would be a good one for Karen Syed to answer.

    (I think $16 retail for a 265-page POD-produced book is good. I have a 266-page POD-produced book out, with some twenty photos included, that retails for $15.95, and retailers have consistently told me that this is an acceptable price for their stores. My POD producer kicked in a returns policy as well--and the book was edited by a professional editor other than me, so I'm not having quite the same problem as some others using the POD-production route.)

  9. #9
    Karen Syed
    Guest

    Re: Just a comment ref. POD

    I think perhaps I was misunderstanding the actual question. I took the original post I read to mean that the author was looking for a "publisher" to publish their book, not just a printer to print it.

    We do use Lightning for our Echelon titles and I went into our system to quote the prices I gave so I would be accurate.

    I am not so much plugging my company (at least not blatantly) as much as I am trying to get word out that there are publishers who think the same way we do at EP and want to work professionally. There is still a certain amount of hesitancy involved with Vanity/Subsidy/Self publishing and many think that this is the only way they can get published after so many rejections. This may have nothing to do with the original conversation here, but this is what I get when I ask why do you want to do POD. I don't consider POD a type of publishing; it is a type of printing. This may be where I rocked the apple cart.

    As for return policy. All of our books except one (and the proceeds go to charity) are returnable via Ingrams, B & T, Amazon, B & N, and EP (us). We made that decision to allow us the chance to get our books into stores. We are building our store relationships one book at a time. We are shelved at several Waldens in the IL area, as well as B & N mortar stores. We are currently on shelves in numerous Indy stores, as well as a few grocery stores scattered about. We are trying to be as aggressive as our small new company budget allows, but we are working toward national brick & mortar distribution. That is the only way our books will sell in the numbers we desire. Making them returnable shows the buyer that we are not afraid to meet them on their terms.

    As for editing, we contract editors on a per book basis and we pay them--we don't pay much but we don't ask much because we are so selective about what we contract. The only thing we take out from the sale of the book before royalties is the actual production cost per book, this does not include the set up fee. Is this financially smart for us? Probably not, but it is good for our authors and with the contests our titles are winning and the marketing our authors are doing to sell their books, it is working and we are not in the hole financially. Therefore, our long shot is paying off so far.

  10. #10
    Karen Syed
    Guest

    Marketing POD

    We are a small company and marketing is very difficult for us. At EP we do take as aggressive steps as we can to market with our authors. We do bookstore mailings, we distribute promo materials to a number of conventions retailers, etc. We do library mailings, our authors are very aggressive with author events and conventions/conferences and the likes.

    We have made ourselves very visible in the industry and are receiving recognition from some of the higher levels of people. A lot of our recognition has come from the romance industry (where we started) but is quickly spreading from within those ranks. We encourage our authors to enter contests and so forht because that offers u s better angles to promote from. When we go to a bookstore they don't want a fresh off the farm author with no track record, but we can market much more effectively if that farm girl has won a prestigious award or has a quote from someone with the necessary clout to matter.

    Marketing is tough, but our sales are showing that we have some clue, of course we want to be better, but we are also willing to work harder to achieve it.

    Have I talked in circles or did I actually answer the question Fred aksed?

    Karen Syed, Echelon Press
    www.echelonpress.com

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