Self-Publishing The Old Fashioned Way – Print On Demand Publishing

Before there were online publishing websites, self-publishers did things a little differently. Self-publishing bore a striking resemblance to traditional publishing, except the authors wore every hat and did all of the work by themselves - unless they had the budget for some extra help.

Self-publishing with POD publishing, or print-on-demand publishing, is similar in some ways to online publishing in that you can still hire an artist, editor, and even book marketer if you have the funds to do so. The difference however, is that if you self-publish through any of the many online publishing websites, like Amazon, you will only get a fraction of the book sales, and you sacrifice your rights to the book - typically for the duration of your contract, and those contracts often stipulate exclusivity. Which means that if you can't make it there, you're not allowed to make it anywhere.

So yes, in traditional self-publishing, you have to handle everything – and the list of tasks is a very long one. However with the right guidance, a bit of elbow-grease, and some money set-aside for printing costs, you will also retain all of the rights to your book, you can sell it anywhere and any way you want, and you keep all of the money you make from your sales.

Some of the things that an author needs to handle for POD publishing include:

  • Getting an ISBN, bar code, and sales tax number – you may want to look into tax exempt status in other states while you're at it here.
  • Learn how to set-up a copyright page. Registering a copyright is optional, but if you are going to do so, handle it immediately after publishing and remember that the copyright office needs two copies of the book for registration purposes.
  • Send the best copy of the book (a hardcover one if possible) to the Library of Congress.
  • Obtain a good cross-section of POD publishing prices and ask to see samples of their work. Look specifically at the text, photos, and artwork quality.
  • Things to consider regarding production costs – paper stock, coatings, shipping weight, and cover weight, to name but a few.
  • All of the marketing for your book. Learn how to create a press-kit and set-up your own radio interviews and book store signings.

The main difference in POD publishing other than the work involved however, is that you need to have a budget available for printing your book. Online publishing houses require nothing up-front and simply take all of the costs from your sales. Print on demand publishing in contrast, requires that you pay for the cost of printing the books up-front.

Setting-up the presses for book printing costs the same amount whether you're printing 100 books (a short-run) or 1,000 books (a long-run), so make sure that you have the largest portion of your budget set-aside for the printing of your book.

Before determining how many copies you'll need, consider where you'll be selling your book and how much you're willing to spend for the first printing. After all, if the book does well you can always order more copies.





  • 10 Literary Agents Seekin...
    10 literary agents actively seeking true crime stories. Plus typical query response rate, recent deals and other genres accepted.
  • Fake Reviews and Why They...
    Fake book reviews are rampant on Amazon. They can make it difficult to determine the quality of a book without reading the "Look Inside" or purchasing the complete book only to find out the entire story falls off the page after the first chapter.
  • Why Libraries Rarely Buy ...
    Let's start with the librarians since they're the ones in control – or so it seems at least. The reality is that the patrons of the library are in control, almost entirely. If patrons started asking for self-published works en masse, libraries ...
  • Top 12 Crippling Mistakes...
    Top 12 Mistakes of the New Self-Published Author. Some may think these are shortcuts, but they will undermine your career and cast doubt on your professionalism every single time.
  • Why Hiring a Book Editor ...
    Learn why self-editing will only get you so far and why a professional editor is essential for Self-Published authors. Providing an editor was the role of publishing houses, but now that authors can do direct to consumer, it falls on them to find and hire...  more