Print On Demand Publishing Online

Writing Your Book

If you've been considering publishing your own book, but don't want a huge outlay of cash on the front end, then Print On Demand (POD) publishing may be for you. There are a number of POD publishers online, making it easy to find one that meets your publishing needs. Features and prices vary greatly from one company to another, and each has its own advantages and drawbacks. Review several options before making your decision.

1. CreateSpace

Run by Amazon.com, CreateSpace provides a simple interface and easy publishing with no upfront fees, a non-exclusive contract and the ability to set your own book price. The company just changed to a online proofing model, which means you don't need to order and pay for a proof of your book. Instead, you can approve it entirely online and make the necessary changes. The result is a relatively speedy publishing process for fiction and non-fiction books, typically taking just a month or less. Distribution is provided via Amazon.com and the Kindle eStore.

Features

Free Features

  • Formatting templates
  • Cover templates
  • ISBN and barcode
  • Use your own ISBN
  • Color or black and white
  • Paperback only
  • Kindle setup and sales

Paid extras

  • Design
  • Editing
  • Marketing
  • Expanded distribution

Fees/Royalties

  • Per book fee based on number of pages
  • 20 percent expanded distribution
  • 40 percent Amazon royalty
  • 70 percent Kindle eStore royalty

Pros and Cons

Pros:

  • No setup fee
  • Online proof approval
  • Amazon.com distribution plus low cost expanded distribution
  • eBook option
  • Anyone can publish
  • Quick publishing timeline

Cons:

  • Royalties are fairly low
  • Slow and expensive shipping on bulk purchases
  • If you're not experienced at layout, it may prove difficult
  • Hardback not available

2. The Book Patch

The Book Patch is a template-based, bare-bones print on demand publisher with a non-exclusive contract. The offers an online word processor so you can write your book right on the site, and then print it for sale. There is no manuscript approval process and both fiction and non-fiction works are accepted. The publisher charges a per book flat rate, and sends you the profits based on your book price. This option works best for people doing small special projects, such as family histories or books for a class or symposium. Distribution via the site's eStore is provided and drop-shipping is available to other sellers.

Features

Free Features

  • Cover templates
  • Layout templates
  • Spiral or perfect binding
  • No hardback
  • ISBN and bar code

Paid extras

  • None available

Fees/Royalties

  • Flat fee based on number of pages and size
  • Bulk discounts are offered
  • No royalties

Pros and Cons

Pros:

  • No upfront costs
  • Anyone can publish
  • Great for people without a word processing program

Cons:

  • Distribution in eStore only

  • Limited layout options

3. LuLu

LuLu offers free do-it-yourself print on demand publishing with a host of paid services, as well. Lulu has excellent hard copy and eBook publishing features for fiction and non-fiction works. The site states that it is always free to publish. However, many authors select fee based services, for which there is a charge. LuLu also has one of the highest royalty percentages of an online POD publisher. Distribution is provided via the LuLu bookstore and Amazon.

Features

Free Features

  • Layout templates
  • Cover templates
  • eBook
  • Color or black and white
  • Multiple binding styles
  • Multiple sizes
  • ISBN and barcode
  • Option to use your own ISBN
  • Paperback or hard cover
  • iBooks, Kindle and Nook

Paid extras

  • Cover design
  • Editing
  • Marketing
  • Publicity
  • Formatting
  • Promotional materials
  • Book reviews
  • Book fair participation
  • Expanded distribution

Fees/Royalties

  • No up-front fees
  • 80 percent of net receipts

Pros and Cons

Pros:

  • Distribution through Amazon.com
  • No upfront fees required

Cons:

  • Additional services are very expensive
  • Only two trim sizes available for distribution beyond eStore
  • They don't make their contract available for review before signing up

4. Virtual Bookworm

A well-established print on demand publisher, Virtual Bookworm has been in business since 2000. The company has a great balance of premium and basic features, as well as excellent royalties. Virtual Bookworm screens manuscripts, which many authors feel adds value to their books, since not just anyone can publish. Both fiction and non-fiction books are accepted and manuscript approval is required. The contract is non-exclusive and authors are able to set their book's price. Distribution is provided through eStore and Amazon.com.

Features

Free Features

  • Basic layout templates
  • Basic cover templates
  • Soft or hardcover
  • Color or black and white
  • ISBN and barcode
  • Use your own ISBN

Paid extras

  • Cover design
  • Layout
  • Editing
  • Marketing
  • Expanded distribution

Fees/Royalties

  • $350 to $500 up-front fee
  • 50 percent royalty

Pros and Cons

Pros:

  • Excellent royalties
  • Excellent distribution
  • Discounts for doing your own layout
  • Setup fees are reasonable

Cons:

  • You must get your manuscript approved before publishing
  • Requires upfront costs to publish

5. Book Locker

Book Locker's print on demand service seeks to publish books quickly with a non-exclusive contract. Both fiction and non-fiction works are accepted. Time-to-publish is typically about a month, and this publisher requires manuscript approval and screening. The company tries to save authors' money by not offering items it considers not worthwhile, such as printed marketing materials. Distribution is provided through the company's eStore.

Features

Free Features

  • Formatting
  • Proof
  • ISBN and barcode
  • Sales fulfillment
  • Graphics
  • eBook and PDF
  • Use your own ISBN
  • Hardback or paperback
  • Color or black and white
  • Five trim sizes

Paid extras

  • Expanding eBook formatting
  • Expanded distribution
  • Expanded eBook distribution (Kindle, Nook, iBooks)

Fees/Royalties

  • $325 to $535 up-front fee
  • 35 percent eStore
  • 15 percent expanded distribution

Pros and Cons

Pros:

  • Quick publishing time
  • You don't have to do your own layout and formatting

Cons:

  • Manuscript approval is required before publishing
  • Only publishes books from North America and Europe
  • Upfront costs to publish

Is POD Right For You?

POD publishing is attractive to many authors because of the low up-front costs to get their books published. The POD process is also typically much quicker than traditional publishing, taking just weeks after the book's acceptance to be produced as opposed to months for more traditional publishing routes. On the other hand, POD authors are responsible for their own marketing and may have to do their own editing or pay for editing services. Check out reviews of the POD sites listed here, as well as others on Books and Tales and Top Ten Reviews for additional insight before making your decision.

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Print On Demand Publishing Online