Self-Publishing or Print-on-Demand?

Copyright © 2010 by Valerie J. Lewis Coleman

Let’s take a look at some differences between self-publishing and print-on-demands (PODs):

  1. Many PODs do not provide a comprehensive edit although they charge like a professional, developmental-writing editor who’s providing personalized mentoring and a manuscript critique. Self-pubs can find competent editors for a fraction of the cost.
  2. PODs use templates for book covers. I have a client whose inspirational book has the same cover image as a book about demons, witches and warlocks. She was horrified by the discovery. Self-pubs can contract with professional graphic designers to create customized one-of-a-kind covers for as little as $300.
  3. Now for the real deal: making money! a.   If you’re in business to make money, it’s almost impossible with PODs. Proficient self-pubs can acquire books for less than $2 each; however, the POD cost for a comparable book often exceeds $10. Doesn’t sound like much, but when authors try to market to bookstores, libraries and distributors, they soon learn that it’s not cost effective. To make money, bookstores charge 40% of the retail price and distributors up to 70%. So, if a book is priced at $15 and the author has to give up 60% (or $9) to a distributor, the gross profit is $6 ($15 retail price – $9 to the distributor). If a POD printed the book, the loss is $4 a book ($6 gross profit – $10 POD print cost). As a self-pub, each book sold through the distributor results in a net profit of $4 ($6 gross profit – $2 printing cost). I have a client who went with a POD—against my recommendation—because she wasn’t charged any upfront fees. I admonished her to find out her cost to purchase books, but she was too ecstatic about “the savings” to read the fine print. Well, as I expected, they got her on the back end. The POD charged her $25 to buy her book which should retail for $12.95. As if that wasn’t bad enough, the POD sold her book on its website for $20. Yes, her wholesale price from the POD was higher than the retail price to the end user. Who conducts business like that? To break even, she attempted to sell the books for $25. The cost made the book a hard sell, so she packaged it with trinkets to enhance the perceived value, sold it for $20 and lost lots of money. offers affordable publishing packages that allow you to earn a profit on the first print run!b.  PODs don’t pay royalties on books purchased by the author and most books sold through PODs are purchased by the author. Go figure! For the few books that are sold by the POD, the author earns a whopping $110 in royalties on average. The earning potential for self-pubs is limited only by the author’s persistence and ability to creatively market and sell books.c.  PODs charge excessive fees for promotional material and marketing. One of my clients purchased business cards through her POD. They charged her $200 for 200 cards (at $1 per card, they’re too expensive to give away) that didn’t even include her contact information. To add insult to injury, the cards directed the consumer to the POD’s site, so she paid to advertise for the POD. Awful! Pen of the Writer offers 5,000 custom-designed business cards for $150 (or $0.03 each) so give them to everyone.

d.  PODs do not offer quantity discounts. In almost every business industry, suppliers offer discounts to customers when they purchase in bulk. Not PODs. Whether you print one book or 1,000, the price per book remains the same. Ludicrous!

The only plus to PODs is the ability to print small quantities. For writers who want to test the market or print copies for family history, POD may be a viable option. But be warned, I have researched the industry for years and only found two reputable PODs. I conducted an in-depth competitive analysis to create a list of book producers. Log-in at and then search “Book Producers” under POWERful Tips to download the free, yet priceless, information.

The publishing business can be confusing, overwhelming and downright deceitful. Before you tread into unfamiliar territory, do your research. Attend literary conferences, ask for referrals and hire an expert to walk you through the process. If you’d like insider secrets about this business or need a thorough analysis of a potential publisher, visit the About Us page at You’ll find a complete list of services that will help you master self-publishing to make money!

About Valerie J. Lewis Coleman

As a bestselling author and award-winning publisher, Valerie J. Lewis Coleman has helped thousands of aspiring authors navigate the challenges of self-publishing. With over ten years of experience in the book business, this expert divulges industry secrets on avoiding the top five mistakes made by new authors, pricing your book to sell and identifying dishonest publishers. Her dynamic presentation and knowledge of the business takes writers from pen to paper to published as they master self-publishing to make money! To learn more about Valerie, her books and succeeding as a self-published author, visit and

About Self-Publishing Made Easy

After spending way too much money to create an inferior-quality book, the average self-published author only sells 75 copies. That’s not enough to cover publishing costs let alone turn a profit.

Self-Publishing Made Easy Journals will save you hours of research, thousands of dollars and mountains of frustration. Written by an expert with over ten years of experience in the book industry, this how-to guide navigates you through the mysterious labyrinth of self-publishing. Master the secrets of writing from an editor’s perspective, avoid dishonest publishers and understand how to make publishing quick, easy and affordable!

In these journals, you’ll learn:

  • The formula for writing, publishing and marketing a bestseller
  • How to avoid the top five mistakes made by new authors
  • How to write from an editor’s perspective
  •  Tips to overcome writer’s block
  • How to price your book to sell
  •  Industry secrets publishers don’t want you to know
  • How to get your book listed with the major distributors and over 25,000 retailers and online stores
  • Proven methods to generate funds for your book project
  • Leveraging your author celebrity
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