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  1.  (4781.1)
    I think my publisher uses outlets that do POD, so I guess that this counts: With A Stiff Upper Lip

    It's a sourcebook for setting RPGs in the United Kingdom, but I guess that non-UK writers could also find it useful. I've just had another book (Limitless Horizons - for running pulp sci-fi games using the Spirit of the Century SRD) accepted by them so that'll be out later this year. In line with this Of Two Minds article, I'm going to try to persuade them to drop the prices until it becomes an impulse buy

    Promotion-wise, I've tried targeted on-line promotion and word of mouth, but without a lot of obvious success. When Limitless Horizons comes out, I'll let the people on the Spirit of the Century forums know and if my Year of the Zombie stuff ever comes out, for example, I lurk on the Zombie Squad forums and I'll let them know about it
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      CommentAuthorbudgie
    • CommentTimeJan 20th 2009
     (4781.2)
    @frequentcontributor - thanks. I suspect that the various plugs that friends and writers have done for me have given it far, far more coverage than I could possibly have obtained on my own.
  2.  (4781.3)
    I currently have two books available at Lulu. Heaven Can Wait which is a cross between Scarface meets Ghost, and The Mysterious Minute-Men Omnibus, a superhero parody.

    I'm working on porting those (while finishing up the sequel to The Minute-Men) over to Lightning Source for access to a wider distribution network (subsidiary of Ingrams which feeds places like B&N, amazon, chapters, etc).

    Sales are brisk using word of mouth and email alerts and are enough to cover future books.
    • CommentAuthorstml
    • CommentTimeJan 20th 2009
     (4781.4)
    Cover of Bookkake's Fanny Hill Cover of Bookkake's Torture Garden Cover of Bookkake's Liber Amoris

    Last year I started my own POD-based imprint, Bookkake (http://bookkake.com), which launched selling out-of-copyright classic dirty books (Fanny Hill, Venus in Furs, etc.). This year I'm going to continue with linked titles in radical politics and experimental fiction.

    I used POD as a way of hacking the publishing industry. As a former editor at a small publishing house, I could and can see the way the industry is going (I write about this - POD and other issues around technology and literature - at http://booktwo.org). POD allows me to get books out to readers while bypassing the usual over-printing, warehousing and distribution costs that are killing the industry, and I can sell profitably to a smaller market. But I don't see it as reducing quality: all my titles are newly typeset, with original covers and introductions by excellent writers. It's all supported with free ebooks in various formats, blogging and the usual social gubbins.

    I plan to take the model I've developed (POD printing hooked up to a bunch of [mostly free and/or open source] web services) to build a bigger and more grounded publishing business over the next year, which may also include traditional printing. If you've got any questions, do get in touch. Plenty more info on the site.
    • CommentAuthorwhatever
    • CommentTimeJan 20th 2009
     (4781.5)
    At the risk of sounding harsh, there should be a couple ground rules laid down for what POD is really for. POD is _generally_ what you do if your initial print demands are going to be under 1000. (Depending on what you're doing and the exact quote, an off-set print run will start being significantly cheaper to produce somewhere between 500 and 750 copies.) POD's advantages are:

    1) low investment
    2) no inventory storage
    3) gaming the system with discounts/royalties (more on that in a second)

    The nice thing is you can usually (though not always when color is involved) set things up so you're getting a $4-6 margin where you'd normally be getting a $1-$2 royalty. Lightning Source lets you dial down the discount offered to stores and you're still in Amazon, etc.

    Moral of the story, your successful POD project probably isn't _supposed_ to be selling over 1000 copies _unless_ you're specifically gaming the system for royalties and know how to drive traffic to where it's for sale. If you're not on the bookstore site, just realize that you're creating a few barriers to sales: unfamiliar/possibly untrusted site, special trip, no free shipping, potentially having your book next to something weird like "Natural Harvest - A Collection of Semen-Based Recipes" (actual top seller at Lulu - though I suppose that's cross-sell for some books). That's not to say it can't be done on POD-specific website, but you're making your task harder.

    Thing is, you can still make $2K - $3K off 500 copies sold if your margins and expenses tally.

    That's more like realistic expectations for POD. They say most PODs sell under 50 copies - friends and family. If you can sell 100 copies, statistics say you're well ahead of the curve. And the other thing to remember about POD is to add up your checks at the end of the year. This isn't always something that's front-loaded. $150/mo is $1800 at the end of the year.
  3.  (4781.6)
    I collaborated with some mates on a horror anthology, "Psychotronik Comics Presents..." released through IndyPlanet, which is what I assume to be the distribution arm of Ka-Blam. We've sold a few copies, mostly to friends, but it's damn hard when you're on these kind of sites, I think. We're not even indie, we're just... there. Which is fun, I guess... oh, and we've got a t-shirt thing going on at cafepress... basically, the plan is, if you see the shirt design in the comic, you can buy the actual shirt. I think that's bloody fantastic! I hope I've been vague and mysterious enough!
    • CommentAuthorpaladinb
    • CommentTimeJan 20th 2009
     (4781.7)
    HI everyone, someone told me about this thread. I emailed to see if it was OK to join and post but in the meantime I decided to do it anyway. and I figured I'd join up and post

    My Pod book Fallen Heroes came out last year via Lulu(and most online sites) and it's been quite a year. To list a few things that have happened.

    First off I managed to get the book stocked in seven branches of Waterstones( one of the largest chains of bookshops in the uk) to stock copies of the book. Waterstones ordered and paid for them there wasno Sale or Return involved which is good for me. It sold out in two of the branches, one of those being it's flagship branch in London which apparently is the Largest bookshop in Europe(and they have a very cool bar there!). They asked me to come into the store just before Christmas to sign some copies for the shelves. I also was asked to do an Official signing at the Waterstone's branch in Northampton last September. I was terrified on the day but I think it went well and I managed to sell some copies during the signing.

    In this last week I managed to get another store to agree to order some copies and they've asked me to come in for an official signing next month. Waterstones also gave me a five star review for the book which has really helped other people to give the book a second look as the whole POD thing is a real stumbling book with a lot of people.

    I was approached by a comic company towards the end of Last year who want to adapt Fallen Heroes as Graphic Novel. I also got a voice actor recording an audio version of the book of which he done about of a third of so far.

    Last, but by no means least, luckiest of all was the artist (who, like me is a comic fan) I found to do the cover.

    bookshelf
  4.  (4781.8)
    I've been working on turning a popular series of articles on my blog into a book for a few months now. The book is about networking (meeting people) in the video game industry. It's pretty niche. I never thought about turning it into a book until two textbook publishers independently contacted me and asked me if I wanted to write a book for them based on the blog. I thought, "Wow, this is a blogger's dream, right?" So I started down the process of outlining, doing the sample chapter, etc... then I realized that it's an awfully huge timesink for someone who also runs their own business. Long story short: I am more or less a marketer by trade, and also have print layout experience, so I figure that POD is perfect for me because I can lay out the book myself and market it myself as well.

    So what I'm doing is, instead of re-writing my whole blog in textbook form, I'm just printing my blog as-is with some extra stuff to glue it all together and some bonus content. I'll be selling it for around $12. The value of the book is not necessarily the content (you can get much of it for free on my blog), but rather the fact that it will be pocket-sized and easy to carry around in context at industry events, which is where you need the advice the most. I'm going to market it through my website, and also directly to the many video game educators that already use my blog as a text in their classes. Since $12 is a pittance for textbooks, I figure if I can even get four schools to sign on, that's about 100 copies ordered every semester every year. At a $4 margin per book, that's $800/year right there. Which maybe isn't a lot, but recurring supplemental income is an excellent thing to have in one's life, no matter how small.

    I'll be using CreateSpace, which for a book my size and dimensions works out to the $4 margin on $12. As a video game developer, getting $4 on a $12 sale is absolutely out of this world, regardless of volume sold. The fact that CreateSpace charges no setup fees and does automatic Amazon listing means that I'm going with them. I looked into Lulu, but I absolutely need Amazon placement, and the cost of getting on Amazon through Lulu in both money and time was too great for me.
  5.  (4781.9)
    I own United Comics, a small comics publisher. Our model is producing comics POD through both Comixpress and soon through Ka-Blam, ordering a batch at a time for conventions and online sales. Some direct orders to stores willing to do that (some stores are adamantly against ordering any comic that doesn't come from the Diamond catalog, *sigh*). Our TPB are strictly printed short-run and solicited to any distributor that will order them.

    Promotion? Web (Our own website, as well as social networking sites like facebook and MySpace), Postcards to comic shops, Comic Conventions (flyers and direct contact with dealers), Store Signings. Sales are OK, they tend to come in waves.

    Videos on YouTube promoting the projects hasn't hurt. It's all about viral.
  6.  (4781.10)
    I really appreciate hearing about other writers' experiences with POD. This has been a great thread.
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      CommentAuthormckenzee
    • CommentTimeJan 20th 2009
     (4781.11)
    I have my Sinister Bedfellows: Anthology on Lulu, as well as Cthulhuvida and the North Carolina WebComic Coffee Clatch Anthology (Volume 2 appearing soon!)

    I also published a collection of my wife's grandmother's poetry, transcribed from the backs of hundreds of envelopes and receipts. We made an old lady cry.

    my Lulu store
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      CommentAuthorbudgie
    • CommentTimeJan 20th 2009
     (4781.12)
    @PuffChrissy - I tried blurb.com, but really couldn't get my head around their software. Was recommended lulu.com and with only a couple of minor problems (mainly due to their website having problems for about 12 hours creating pdfs of uploaded files, but them not telling anyone) the process was incredibly smooth.

    Incredibly so... to the extent that I'd published something before I'd realised I'd done so (luckily, it was marked as "private" so no one could see it...)

    A couple of issues though:

    Anyone using them should be aware of this one: there's one stage where you convert whatever document you've uploaded into what they call a "print ready" document. UNDER NO CIRCUMSTANCES click on "cancel" while it's preparing the document, no matter how long it takes (only a couple of minutes usually). ALWAYS let it complete and then do it again if you need to change anything.

    If you click on cancel while it'd preparing it, the site locks the project for anything up to 24 hours.

    Moving on... picking a sales price for your project is ease itself: you either pick how much margin you want to make OR the retail price; lulu calculates the rest for you.

    One other thing to consider though, about price. FX rates. I priced my book at £6.50, thinking that the US$ price would come in somewhere around (with current FX rates) $10, ideally a shade under.

    Nope - the US$ price was (and is) $11.21, an effective FX rate of 1.73 to the pound, at a time when the actual rate was around $1.50 to the pound...
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      CommentAuthorblu
    • CommentTimeJan 20th 2009 edited
     (4781.13)
    Art from Newpocalypse.com
    This isn't a book but print on demand art prints for my work on Newpocalypse.com. We've been using ImageKind and found them to be excellent in service and quality. Like most PoDs, you can sell direclty off your website (our store is here: http://www.newpocalypse.com/merch/prints.htm ) or on their site: http://newpocalypse.imagekind.com/

    You have a lot of options as far as merchandise and pricing. I've ordered nearly one of everything they sell... canvas, low end paper, to high end paper and have been thrilled with the quality of the prints, the way its packaged and shipped and the time it takes to get products once the order is placed. I have NO complaints and highly recommend them.

    Also, we're looking into doing a few graphic novels so this thread is excellent! Thanks for all the info and ideas!
    • CommentAuthorbigtombiz
    • CommentTimeJan 20th 2009
     (4781.14)
    I've done a couple of POD books and while they haven't made any money, the learning experience of taking something from initial concept to final product has been interesting. Perhaps that's vanity publishing, but if nothing else it's got me a step towards proper publishing, as I've got something coming out later this year with a big (real) publisher.

    The first one was How to Start Smoking, which was with Diggory Press, who are one of the smaller providers based in England. Both the finished product and the service was excellent. One thing to note, however, is that the company is run by Christians, so they might not be amenable to publishing anything offensive. I didn't go to them for my second POD book The End Times Diary, as I thought it might offend them. Used Lulu, but didn't bother with an ISBN and distribution. Quality of the product was OK, but one batch I ordered were aligned too far down the page. Still readable, but a bit weird.

    I'll probably do some other POD projects in the future, but I'm not banking on making any money out of it.
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      CommentAuthorblu
    • CommentTimeJan 20th 2009
     (4781.15)
    paladinb -- congrats on Fallen Heroes and your success with the bookstores. That's exciting and encouraging. thanks for sharing! Will definitely be checking your book out.
    • CommentAuthorTramov
    • CommentTimeJan 20th 2009
     (4781.16)
    I've put three books out using two different POD sources. The first work was a small collection of Poetry published through Lulu.com. I was disappointed with their print quality and switched over to Blurb.com for the following works. Now I'm busy reformatting the first book so I can re-release it through Blurb. There's no ISBN services offered through Blurb but vast difference in quality and the fact that most of my literary following stems from customers at my day job, that has yet to be an issue for me.
    • CommentAuthorlouobedlam
    • CommentTimeJan 20th 2009
     (4781.17)
    I've made two photo books using Blurb, one which I sold myself, one which I sold through Blurb. Other than one small shipping snafu, the process was extremely smooth both times.

    And for that snafu, their customer service was quick to remedy the problem. Quality has been consistently high, and I've sold about 150 book total. Their design software was easy to use, and gave me a wide array of templates to use and play with.

    For promotion, I basically just let people know through the various websites I'm on: Flickr, Tumblr, MySpace, Facebook, and sent out a big ol' email to everyone in my address book.

    For the book I sold through Blurb, I made $15 a book, and for the one I sold myself (where I took pre-orders, then bulk ordered from Blurb, had the books shipped to me, then shipped them to my customers myself), I made $50, though I sold considerably fewer of those, and it was a bit more trouble than I'd anticipated.

    The set-up of Blurb ended up being far more convenient, as they handle pretty much everything, distribution-wise, and send you a check every month.
    •  
      CommentAuthorwaniyetuwi
    • CommentTimeJan 20th 2009
     (4781.18)
    edit:

    You can purchase an ISBN outside of Blurb and incorporate it into the book. That is what I meant to say.
  7.  (4781.19)
    I'm a member of a little publishing collective called Low Key Comics. We've published a handful of books using POD services....

    Low Key Comics #1
    Low Key Comics #2
    The Last Days of El Rey #1
    Downhill From Here
    Everyman #1
    Everyman #2
    Journal Sanders Vol. 1: Kentucky Fried Sketchbook

    Our first experiences were with ComiXpress back in '05, and they were pretty terrible...slow to respond to e-mails, slow to accept receipt of files, and just barely got us our books in time despite well exceeding their stated lead time. We switched to Ka-Blam and I couldn't be happier...the print quality is better (if you squint you can see some very minor pixellation from both companies, but Ka-Blam's is just a hair higher quality), the turnaround time is better, and questions about an order are answered quicker. (They aren't always prompt, but certainly better than ComiXpress was in our limited experience there.) We've tried several different formats of books from them--black and white, full color, regular stapled comics, manga-sized TPBs--and they all look as professional as if they were done at a "real" printer.

    Our sales through their retail arm, IndyPlanet.com, haven't been anything to write home about, but we also haven't done much in the way of online publicity. We mostly try to push the books at conventions, and get them in our local shops. Part of our "collective" arragement is that we all live in different areas, so we ship the books out to each other and get them in local shops spread around the country that way.

    As to getting your POD comics reviewed, really all you have to do is to get it in the hands of the right people and put out a product good enough to make them want to flip through it. We've had books reviewed by Tom Spurgeon and Steven Grant without doing much more than mailing them the books and keeping our fingers crossed.

    The one biggest frustration as far as using POD is the price. The price to get printed is very reasonable, but when you take your books to a comic shop that wants to do 100% markup, you find yourself having to crank up your price just so you don't lose money. Journal Sanders, for example, is a 100-page book that costs $5.42 to print through Ka-Blam. We charge $8 on it through their website and at cons and can make a fair bit of change off each one, but to sell it at a comic shop, we have to charge $11.00 just to break even. Getting someone to drop $11 is a hell of a lot harder than getting them to drop $8.
    • CommentAuthorhuge_euge
    • CommentTimeJan 20th 2009
     (4781.20)
    I am a member of a group of ten writers called G10 who have collaborated on and self-published two books through CreateSpace.

    The first one is called The Artifact. It is a scifi anthology that follows a cursed alien artifact as it passes through the hands of several doomed characters.



    The second book is a short story collection called Keys: Unlocking the Universe. Each story uses the word "key" as a jumping off point with genres ranging from comedy to horror and scifi to romance.

    We all met each other at the now-defunct fan-fiction site, FanLib, where we competed against each other in officially sponsored writing contests in such properties as Star Trek, Battlestar Galactica, and Harry Potter. We are currently working on our third project.