Monday, August 5, 2013

Vanity Publishing & Publishing on Demand

For those of us who love a hard cover, a coffee table item, or the ability to sit with your kids and read paper books, there are two main options that are available for printing your book – Vanity Publishing and Print-on-demand (POD).  Please be aware that the premise behind both of these are essentially the same, but one you pay thousands for a pre-contracted print run, and the other you pay as you print, usually from online retailers.

Vanity publishing

It used to be that Vanity Publishing was the only way you could self-publish before the invention of the ebook.  Vanity Publishing was usually the last resort when your books were rejected again and again by traditional publishers.  You would find a vanity press and pay for a run of, at minimum, 1000 books.  You would then try to find places to distribute the books yourself.  I have heard of many boxes of vanity-printed books shelved in garages due to lack of distribution.
The term 'vanity publishing' originated at a time when the only way for an author to get a book published was to sign a contract with a publishing company.  Reputable publishing companies generally paid authors a percentage of sales, so it was in the company's interest to sign only authors whose books would sell well.  It was extremely difficult for the typical unknown author to get a publishing contract under these circumstances, and many 'vanity publishers' sprang up to give these authors an alternative: essentially, they would publish any book in exchange for payment up front from the author.  The term 'vanity publishing' arose from the common perception that the authors who paid for such services were motivated by an exaggerated sense of their own talent.
There are heaps of websites that will do your vanity and POD printing for you.  Google is your best friend, as I haven't used a vanity press before.  Remember to get your book a bar code, and an ISBN number for NZ – found here:

Publishing on Demand

POD is what self-publishers do now if they want a printed copy of their self-published book.  There are a number of online printing firms that you set up an account with and upload your book, its cover and meta-data.  They then let you know what the minimum amount the book will cost per book and you add your amount (profit) on top.  They make their money off the print cost and the cut they take out of royalties you would earn.  Many of these POD platforms are linked to online retailers like Amazon so they can list your books for you and you can link them to your author page online.
Basically, if you want to self-publish a book just so you can get it in your hot little hands, POD is a great place to start as you can pay for one copy or many copies.  Be aware that postage costs to NZ are more expensive than cost of the actual printed book, so I suggest you get more than one book printed at a time.
Print-On-Demand (POD) publishing refers to the ability to print high-quality books as needed.  For self-published books, this is often a more economical option than conducting a print run of hundreds or thousands of books.  Many companies, such as Createspace (owned by, Lulu and iUniverse allow printing single books at per-book costs not much higher than those paid by publishing companies for large print runs.  Most POD companies also offer distribution through and other online and brick-and-mortar retailers.
When your book is published via a good POD platform, they will provide you with an ISBN, sometimes for free.  Createspace discuss your ISBN here:
Much of the information you need to publish an ebook is required for printing a paper edition.  You will need to state your meta-data, your copyright, your table of contents – if you have one – and your book content.  A cover is required, and if you are printing a full-colour picture book or colour photographic coffee table book, you will need to consider using a 'bleed margin', meaning the colour is printed beyond the edge of the page and when cut, the image will extend to the edge of the page without a white boarder.
I sell ebooks on Amazon and I use Createspace for printing my children's ebooks.  I have set up an account with them, I have uploaded my Pixie Courage book and all of its information, and I have selected the book size, paper type, the colour selection and its page total.  Createspace tells me that for Pixie Courage, a 32-page full-colour print will cost me $3.65.  If I want to make any money off one book, I will have to list it on Amazon for over $6.99 because they will take royalties off the price before I get anything.
Createspace has fantastic resources for those interested in using their platform.  Other like platforms include, Lightning Source and
POD really is a cheaper way of doing things if you do not want a huge print run, but if you have a distributor and local retailer already set up, then vanity is cheaper for bulk printing runs.
If like me, you want to see your children reading print versions of your books, have a look around and get a feel for what is out there for printing.  I design all of my new kids ebooks for easy transition to printing on demands, so I'm remembering the bleed margins, and writing the story longer.  I am looking forward to sitting with my squidlettes and showing them my ebooks in print form!
Exciting times,
~ Joy Findlay

No comments:

Post a Comment