Publishing Tools: Print on Demand - article

With the ages, printing has evolved. Writers used to have to find an agent, who, in turn, had to find a publisher. The publisher then found editors and designers for the novel, long before the novel every reached the shelves. The whole process could take years. Thankfully, this is not the case anymore.

A writer has much more control today over publishing his work. The moment he’s done writing and editing his piece, he can send it out for printing. There’s no waiting for the publisher to accept your work. The author assumes or contracts out the role of editor and designer, earning much more money than if he had to pay an agent, editor, and publisher a portion of his book revenues.

Print on Demand (POD) is a great option for writers who don’t want to follow the traditional publishing path. But, you might ask, what exactly is POD? Print-on-Demand is a printing approach that prints your book only when there is an order for it. In the long-term scheme of things, this process saves money and keeps you from having a backlog of unsold books hanging around your house. If your novel sells well, you can order more. The companies often have small fees for this service, but they help distribute your story to stores. They also offer you a great deal of control over your book and its design, as well as its distribution. It also saves trees. This is in contrast to what’s called offset printing, which is commonly used when printing magazines and news papers. It used to be the only real option for printing books, until the rise of the POD technology.

Offset printing requires a printer to put images and text on a printing plate (usually made of aluminum) that is used to transfer the images to paper. The paper is then run through heated ovens to dry the ink and then through ‘chill rollers’ to cool the paper and set the ink. This approach allows the printer to easily make tons of copies of the same words and images. It’s very labor intensive and often requires the customer to purchase a large quantity of the final product. Each purchase is a print run. You might need to purchase, say, 1500 books in one print run to make it worth the printer’s time and effort to use the offset method. Of course, that means you are paying for 1500 books and if you don’t sell them, that’s a financial investment you’ll never get back. POD printing, on the other hand, lets you print what you need when you need it. Often it has a higher per unit printing cost but in the end, you save money by only printing (and investing in) the quantity of books you actually need.

There are quite a few providers of POD services. In no particular order, here are some great companies: Author Solutions, Xlibris , Lightening Source, and The Book Patch. If you search on Google or Yahoo! for POD service providers, you will find hundreds, if not thousands of results.

It’s yours for the choosing. I wish you all the best. Good luck in all your publishing ventures.

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