Associated Press (AP) writer Candice Choi discusses POD publishing. This form of publishing allows writers to get their book into print without having to lay out a lot of money. Under the POD model, each book is printed when someone orders and pays for it. POD publishing differs from vanity press publishing. With a vanity press, the author pays up front to have copies printed all at once, like any other publishing run.
Choi points out that many authors use POD publishing to attract the attention of a major publisher. While there are instances in which a POD book has sold well enough to be taken over by a traditional publishing house, those instances are rare relative to the number of POD books in existence. Choi also says:
Big companies such as Random House Inc. or HarperCollins Publishers can promote authors on a national scale and get titles in major bookstores. Professional editors also polish copy in the traditional publishing world, a step that can transform a manuscript into a best-seller or perhaps a masterpiece.
This is quite misleading. In recent years even the big publishers have quit providing money for publicity except for their major authors (think John Grisham, Danielle Steel, Stephen King, and the like). So, unless you’re one of those authors, you’ll have to underwrite and perform your own publicity even if you do land a traditional publisher.
POD publishing can be a satisfying alternative if you’ve written a book that has a limited audience and if you’re willing to promote the book aggressively. One thing that Choi doesn’t mention, though, is that almost all major book review outlets refuse to review self-published books. So if you’re thinking of POD, understand that you won’t be able to count on reviews in major newspapers or magazines to promote your book. However, if you book fits into a well-defined niche, you may be able to get reviews in magazines, newsletters, or Web sites that serve your subject area.