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  1. #1
    Marc Krulewitch
    Guest

    "self-publish" and POD.... the same thing?

    Are the terms Self-Publishing, POD, and Vanity publishing used synonymously? At first I thought they were but after reading many threads I'm getting the idea that they're not the same and that to "Self-Publish" is an option that does not carry quite the same disdain as POD and Vanity. I know that when one "Self-Publishes" the author has total control over the project and assumes all the production expenses and reaps all the profit if they can sell the books. But who actually does the physical printing of the books? Are there companies that specialize in printing books for self-publishers? Do bookstores and agents and publishers look down on the "Self Publisher" the same way they look down upon the POD or Vanity "author?" I'm not planning on doing any of the above but I would like to understand the difference. Thanks

    mk



  2. #2
    Carol O
    Guest

    Re: "self-publish" and POD.... the same thing?

    Hi, Marc. These should answer a lot of your questions:

    <http://sfwa.org/Beware/subsidypublishers.html>

    <http://sfwa.org/Beware/printondemand.html>

  3. #3
    Mark Madison
    Guest

    Re: "self-publish" and POD.... the same thing?

    There are printing companies that do both kinds by the copy. The brakpoint from POD to offset is about 300 copies. The rest is correct as I read your take on it.

  4. #4
    Mya Bell
    Guest

    Re: "self-publish" and POD.... the same thing?

    Marc,

    Self publishing means you are responsible for administrating and funding the cover, the title, the layout, the content, the printer, and the distribution. You pay for printing, advertising and everything else. You keep 100 percent of the royalties.

    Self publishing is a form of vanity publishing in the sense that you and not a third party book industry professional is deciding whether your material is "publishable" and commercially viable.

    Subsidy publishing means you give up a bunch of rights or a bunch of money to a publisher/printer who handles the typesetting, graphics, etc. and provides minimal distribution and promotion. You don't get 100 percent of the royalties but professionals (or semi- or would-be-) professionals are doing some of the work for you.

    Subsity publishing is also vanity publishing in the sense that there is no significant editorial selection by book industry professionals. Subsidy publishers will print anything that isn't outrageously bad.

    POD simply means print-on-demand. Most publishers use print-on-demand publishing at one time or another. It has nothing to do with vanity, subsidy, or any other editorial distinction.

    --- Mya Bell

  5. #5
    Gary Kessler
    Guest

    Re: "self-publish" and POD.... the same thing?

    I think the SFWA site definitions are more correct than Mya's are. A subsidy publisher is one that shares some of the costs with the author. If they have done so, they have certainly taken a selection step in terms of volunteering to take resourcing risk on the book. They obviously wouldn't do this for just any manuscript.

    One part of the SFWA definition bothers me in that it says self-publishing gives the author more control in saving money in outsourcing functions and getting better quality than going with one of the essentially self-publishing POD services or vanity presses would. Maybe yes, and maybe no--and hinging largely on how savvy the author him/herself is in comparison to the staffs of the other services available.

    You can quickly lose your shirt/blouse in taking that control and outsourcing functions you can't do yourself sufficiently in self-publishing. Vanity presses and POD services can bring to bear economies of scale by producing many titles simultaneously, and there's nothing that guarantees that the author is as talented in any one function--or any of the combined functions at all--or in tracking down the services of someone who is than the other services can provide. The services have everything mapped out; if you go out on your own, you can quickly start to make expensive mistakes and still wind up with an inferior product.

  6. #6
    Mark Madison
    Guest

    Re: "self-publish" and POD.... the same thing?

    Mya is off course a bit. POD, while used in very minute areas in mainstream publishing such as galleys and the like, any company that uses POD primarily is a vanity press for this reason: they have to because they don't sell books to bookstores. As Gary said the responsibility of arranging the operation ala carte is primed for author failure and economi ruin. That's why many fall for PA et al.

  7. #7
    Mya Bell
    Guest

    Re: "self-publish" and POD.... the same thing?

    Hi, Mark.

    My point was that POD is a technology, not a distinction between types of publishers.

    I was trying to make it clear that "POD" has nothing to do with vanity, not vanity, self-published, traditionally published, etc.

    Marc asked: "Are the terms Self-Publishing, POD, and Vanity publishing used synonymously?"

    Self-publishing, POD, and vanity publishing are not synonymous even though people often use the terms interchangeably on these threads.

    Big publishers use print-on-demand (POD) for certain books and, as Mark mentioned, for galleys. Subsidy publishers use offset printing for certain books that they feel might sell better than the average submission (even PublishAmerica sometimes uses offset).

    The choice is usually based upon the size of the print run.

    The fact that traditional publishers use offset more often for their longer runs and subsidy publishers use POD more often for their shorter runs doesn't mean the terms "subsidy" and "POD" are interchangeable.

    Using the phrase "POD publishers" to refer to all subsidy publishers is like using "four-cylinder engine" to refer to all small-wheelbase cars. It's only true part of the time, it's conceptually the wrong distinction, and it only causes confusion as Marc discovered when reading old threads.

    As for Marc's other question:
    But who actually does the physical printing of the books?

    Marc, the self-publishing author selects a printing press with experience in printing and binding books. Presses tend to specialize and not all cities have book-printing presses. There are reputable national presses that accept both electronic "jobs" (camera-ready files) or traditional jobs (which may need to be typeset first in cooperation with the author).

    Some publishers outsource their books to national or out-of-country publishers and some run their own presses.

    Some of the big traditional publishers even run subsidy presses under separate business names.

    Do bookstores and agents and publishers look down on the "Self Publisher" the same way they look down upon the POD or Vanity "author?"

    It depends.

    A tiny percentage of self-publishers have managed to establish a toe-hold in the business (usually by setting up a small business).

    It's still an uphill climb to get reviews, brick and mortar presence, etc. One of the toughest challenges of being a self-publisher (besides trying to get reviews) is getting the big distributors to carry the books. Individual titles is not profitable for them.

    To get around the distribution hurdle, many self-publishers promote and sell their books through conferences and workshops.

    --- Mya Bell

  8. #8
    Mya Bell
    Guest

    Re: "self-publish" and POD.... the same thing?

    correction:

    Carrying individual titles is not profitable for them...[/i]

  9. #9
    Gary Kessler
    Guest

    Re: "self-publish" and POD.... the same thing?

    Both academic presses and niche trade houses increasingly are having their "dribble" backlists put into digital form for printing-on-demand to satisfy continuing demand and to keep customers happy and continuing to read and order from the newer offerings in their catalog. Some of these books even get into the bookstores handling such niche books/topics. The actual publishing world is much more flexible and less prejudicial about a printing process that has its purposes for them than those who have their noses buried in the underbelly of publishing do. And, surprise, they don't care squat about the attitudes of those who mistakenly equate "POD" with vanity.

    I must say, in response to Mya's last posting, though, that very few independent printers have the machinery for print-on-demand services. Almost all of the print-on-demand books are coming out of Lightning Source. Both off-set and Web (the big-volume machines) production are considered print-run production (and both now typically operate from plates made from digital electronic files).

  10. #10
    Marc Krulewitch
    Guest

    Re: "self-publish" and POD.... the same thing?

    Thanks all. I think I've got it. Now, back to getting an agent....

    mk

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