What is Print on Demand?
When you first start researching self-publishing there is a ton of information about companies that offer print on demand publishing and distribution. Some people consider print on demand authors to be less successful than authors who order large quantities and have a huge print run when their book is first released. However print on demand is extremely helpful to authors just getting started, and can help make publishing more accessible.
Print on Demand is a type of book publishing offered by various self-publishing service companies like Amazon KDP, IngramSpark, and BookBaby. When you publish with these companies they retain a printable version of your book and only print the number of books that are ordered whether that is a single copy, or ten thousand copies. That way, the author is only paying the printing costs for books that, theoretically, have already been sold.
IngramSpark and BookBaby also provide distribution to the authors who publish with them which means your book will be listed on big retail websites like Amazon and Barnes and Noble.
How Expensive is POD Publishing?
As with most types of publishing, POD publishing can vary widely in cost. The author is still in charge of editing, design, and marketing costs for their book. There is often also a fee associated with uploading your book to these publishing platforms, and you have to pay for any author copies you order. The publishers that offer POD usually have calculators you can use to put in specific information about your book to estimate printing and shipping costs.
What is the Alternative to POD?
For indie authors that do not want to use print on demand services, the alternative is to find a printer that will do a small run of your book. This is typically hundreds or thousands of books. The cost per book may be lower than print on demand options, but the upfront cost is much higher and if you are not an established author who knows about how many books they are able to sell, it can be a risky investment.