To POD or not to POD…

Why does that have to be the question? I’ve been attempting to set up book signing events over the past week and am having little to no luck because my books are Print On Demand (POD). As you may or may not know, there is a huge stigma attached to having a book that is published as a POD. I have to work very hard to convince bookstores that it is worth their time to have me come in and I believe that this is largely due to the fact that the books are POD. Another problem is that my publisher, PublishAmerica decides arbitrarily when to change the status of my books from returnable to non-returnable. This can be a little irritating since I am not personally notified by the publisher of these changes in status. I have been talking with bookstore managers and in the process of trying to set up an event, they have been the ones who informed me that my book is no longer returnable. And, this status can change several times a year depending on what appears to be my publisher’s mood.

I’m not bashing PublishAmerica here, so please don’t get the impression that they have done something wrong. It’s simply a lapse in communication. This is pretty much the only issue I have had with PublishAmerica and as things go, there will always be something. My real frustration lies in the fact that in order to get my books into the hands of readers, I am faced with several challenges. I can either purchase my own books and do a consignment arrangement with bookstores who do this sort of things or I can beg and plead with other bookstores until I convince them that they should order my book and have me come in to their stores. Unfortunately, neither option is very appealing, nor are they practical.

For one thing, I don’t have the cash on hand to purchase my books in bulk. I work part-time at a low-paying job and I really only make enough money to pay for daycare and groceries and the like. This is how it is with most people. For another, my books are expensive. A drawback of being with PublishAmerica is that you do not get to set your own price for your books. I can accept this, however, it does become an issue when I have to purchase the book for my own purposes. It is only on a rare occasion that I can get them at a special discounted rate. Generally, that occurs when I have no “extra” money lying around which is pretty much anytime you might ask me. Again, I’m not bashing, just laying it out there.

The idea of calling around until I’m blue in the face to set up events is one that I dealt with last year after In the Wash was published. I called and called and begged and pleaded and then called some more. I was turned down more often than not. I did manage to get into several bookstores, however, as I call the same places this time around, I am getting rejected. Even at stores where I sold out, they are telling me that management has changed and the process for scheduling book signing events is not as simple as it once was. This is quite the bubble-buster.

So, after taking a couple of months off from trying to do appearances, I am facing a dilemma. Do I simply market via the internet and keep my fingers crossed that a bookstore or library group will ask me to stop by? Or do I keep calling and facing impending rejection until I can get myself published by someone who isn’t POD? Since my initial thought is that it shouldn’t matter who publishes my books, what matters is whether or not they are good, I am guessing that I’ll continue to fight the good fight. Trying to convince people that POD is not necessarily a bad thing is an uphill struggle.

I am branching out into some other arenas, however. Over the next couple of months, I am working on a project which I intend to self-publish. This one should be interesting. It’s a women’s self-esteem project for which I have been collecting data. I intend to have it finished and ready for sale by the first of the year. In addition, I am to be part of a horror anthology for my friends at Triad Publishing. My short horror story, Eleven will be included in this publication sometime next year. I am also working diligently to make the third book in the Rona Shively mystery series a novel-length story. In hopes of gaining entry into the mainstream publishing world, I am going for it. With all of this on my plate, I’m enthusiastic even in the face of rejection. Hopefully, I’ll gain momentum as I go along.

Until next time…

5 thoughts on “To POD or not to POD…

  1. I have stressed myself out over the PA stuff enough. I’ve decided to let them have the rest of the CS series, if they even take it, then I’m through with them. I’m thinking of going with LuLu. It may be a self publisher and I won’t get a signing or whatever but then again, I’m no worse off than I am now. I know my writing is good, I’ve gotten great reviews and compliments on it. Who needs the crap with PA, all I want to do is have my books made one way or another and be read.

  2. I’ve met a few succesful self-published authors and they use the same approach; go directly to your audience. Most of your books are not going to be sold in bookstores, the competition is fierce. Try to build some kind of community around your books and do presentations, workshops or competitions. You’ll sell more books that way and start to be known in town. Have people in your community or friends and family to start calling the bookstores to find out if they carry your book or if they can order them through them, if the see a demand they might change their mind. I don’t know much about PA but haven’t heard anything good. Lulu is very good, you might want to check them out. Good luck to you.

  3. I had the same problem with my first book published by PA. The returns policy from all POD companies is a problem but the major reason bookstores do not stock most self-published titles is they want a 40% cut of the cover price. Most pod publishers draw the line at 20 which is only good for online sales.bill

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