POD vs Self-Publishing

For a long time I mixed up these types of publishing.

POD (print on demand) is actually a technology that self-publishers use, but you can also find small publishers using it.

Now that I've started to understand the differences, I thought I'd post about it. Basically, self-publishing costs you money. The author pays for their story to get published. If you go with a small, legitimate press, it shouldn't cost you a dime. If the press is small and wants to charge you in order to publish your story, then it's not a small press. It's a vanity press masquerading as a small press.

It's all about the money. If you've thought about self-publishing or going with a smaller press, make sure you study your contract and know what you're getting into.

An example of a legitimate self-publisher with a good reputation is Winepress.
A small publisher who seems legit is OakTara. I stumbled across them after visiting Cindy's blog (she made her first sale to them: woohoo!) and was very impressed with how this publisher emphasizes that while they use POD technology, they do NOT charge the author for anything.

Have you thought about self-publishing or going with a small press? Any experiences with them?

****I may still be confusing vanity and self-publishing: See Michael's comment. Either way, they both cost money, but the money may go to different places for different things depending on whether it's vanity or self-pubbing.


T. Anne said…
This comment has been removed by the author.
I've considered POD with Whiterose press, but haven't submitted there yet. I've heard really good things about Whiterose.

Thanks for this. I didn't know what Vanity publishing really meant before this.
Hey, I just went to full screen and really like your new look. Cool and pretty!
T. Anne said…
I'd love to hear more about the Wild Rose in general.
Cindy said…
I am excited to see you writing about POD and doing so without showing it in a negative light. Though with smaller publishing companies such as OakTara, we might be responsible for more of the marketing, I sincerely do not believe that everyone should rule out POD with small companies just because they don't launch all your books out at Barnes and Noble or Borders. It's good to do your research, though (I think I've used that phrase about a dozen times this week, but it's important!) I am excited to see where things go from here! Thanks for the post!
Kristen Painter said…
Nope, never thought about self-publishing. Love the new blog look!
Jessica said…
Hey T. Anne,
I researched Samhain awhile back. Yeah, their look creeped me out a bit, but so does the name. I have a feeling whoever owns the company is probably into Wicca or wants to create a "feel" with Samhain. I think they publish quite a bit of paranormal, but no inspirationals, so I checked them off my list. They're a very reputable publisher though.
Jessica said…
Thanks Eileen!

White Rose looks like a promising new company. Go for it! :-)
Jessica said…
T. Anne, just saw your other comment. From what I hear, the Wild Rose Press is an active company. I see new sales with them all the time. They're probably a good place to start out. Check their website. It's very informative.
Jessica said…
Hi Cindy,
I'm not really too interested in self-publishing and think it has a negative stigma for a reason. POD is completely different though. It has promise, especially with all the furor about return policies.
Jessica said…
Thanks Kristen. :-) I wouldn't ever go the self-pubbed route either.
Jennifer Shirk said…
Never thought about self-publishing at all. I've been very happy with my experience with Samhain Publishing. Very professional. :)
anita said…
What an informative post, Jessie! Thanks for doing the research for us and laying it out in simples terms.

When I was querying my first novel a couple of years ago, after I'd received my fiftieth some odd rejection, I seriously considered self publishing. I was SO frustrated.

Instead, I decided just to use that frustration as incentive to keep writing and query other books until one of them snagged me an agent. Well, it worked, and I have no regrets.

As to a small pub, I have no qualms going to one if that's the only way my voice will be heard. You can build up a readership no matter who your publisher is. It just means a little more work for you (self-promoting) if you go through a small pub.

In fact, I think that's the one similarity between self-pub and small pubs, is that the promotional side of it is left in up to the author. How successful you will be is in your hands and yours alone. Whereas with the bigger houses, they'll provide some promotional tools.
Jody Hedlund said…
Hi Jessica,

Thanks for distinguishing these today. Your post makes it much clearer!

What is the difference between White Rose press and Wild Rose? Or are they the same?
Michael said…
I think you're still confused and you are confusing your readers.

A vanity press makes most of its money from the fees it charges its author/customers, not from selling books.

A vanity press can use POD, or offset, or letterpress, or a mimeograph machine, or a Xerox copier, or even monks with quills writing on parchment scrolls.

Many vanity publishing companies hide behind buzzwords like "POD" or "self publishing."

With REAL self publishing, a writer becomes the publisher and is the boss who controls everything, and is NOT a customer of a publisher.

The writer either does all of the work, or hires specialists for such tasks as design and editing, and then finds a printer and distributor (usually Lightning Source).

Some hardcore self pubbers actually print, bind and distribute their own books, but this is uncommon.

After unhappy experiences with several traditional publishers, I formed my own publishing company last year. I'm much happier with the speed, control, income and quality of my books. I published three books in four months, and am now writing #4 and #5. #4 is about REAL self publishing.

Michael N. Marcus
Hi Jess -

I think self-publishing has its place, especially among non-fiction writers with a speaking platform. As the pool of writers grows, I'm sure a number of fiction authors will select this route.

At this point, I'm on the traditional publishing track.

Susan :)

P.S. I checked out Samhain and immediately decided it's not for me. The occult tones were a huge turn-off.
Dara said…
Not something I'm considering unless all traditional avenues are exhausted :)
Jessica said…
Hi Jennifer, thanks for stopping by. Samhain does have a great reputation, so it's good to know that their authors are happy. :-)
Jessica said…
Hi Anita,
I think you're right on about the marketing aspects and that a small press may not make too much of a difference if you can create a splash with your book. Word of mouth, they say, is the best seller of a book.
Jessica said…
Hi Michael, thank you for stopping by. I had no clue that there was a difference between vanity and self-publishing. Thank you for clarifying. :-)
Jessica said…
Definitely Susan. A non-fiction writer who has a strong platform could make quite a bit of money going the self-publishing route, I think.
Jessica said…
Me neither, Dara. I'm a traditionalist...LOL I'll stick to the bigger houses than move on to the smaller ones. I wouldn't mind a smaller one though. It doesn't carry any sort of negative connotation for me.
T. Anne said…
Does anyone know if the Wild Rose produces books in print? In chain stores? I get the feel it's primarily e-book. I'd love to know.

Thanks Jessica, I love your blog!
Jessica said…
Hi Jody,
I believe that White Rose Press is coming out of Wild Rose because it's done so well. An author with both of those companies is Teri Wilson. She could probably explain things better. I don't know if she has a blog, but if so, I'd bet she posted something about it since she just sold to White Rose.
T. Anne said…
OOps, just checked out their site and yes they print actual books, I guess I want to know if their available anywhere in that form. If anyone knows the answer, thanks in advance!
Jessica said…
Great question, T. Anne.
Hmmmm, I'm pretty sure their books do come out in print after they come out in e-format, but I'm not sure what the criteria is for them to be in print. As to whether or not they're in brick and mortar stores, I have no clue.
Terri Tiffany said…
Great post!! Loved reading the comments!
Yeah, publishing gets confusing. Before I self-published, I thought "self-publishing" involved hiring a company yourself to publish your book.
But I truly did it myself. I hired the book designer, cover designer and printer. And I have all the books now. Yes, I would love to have a huge company behind me to promote my books, but this is working for me.
I think my situation is a bit different, because I'm not writing novels. I take my books with me when I speak and that is my biggest marketing avenue. Honestly, I am not "making" money. But that wasn't the reason I wrote my first book. For me, it's about reaching out to moms with this hope God has given me. I'm paying off my loan, and that's good enough for me. *grin*
Jessica said…
Hey Karen,
Thanks so much for sharing that! I guess I had no clue that vanity and self-pubbing is different.
Your concept is so real and fresh (irritable mother, lol) that I think we can all relate. I can't wait for when you show up in Ocala. I wish you were speaking at more churches.
quixotic said…
Great post today. I too tend to get those confused and cringe when I hear POD. Now I know a little better. =)
jessie said…
And I thought POD was just something people stuffed homestuffs with and stuck in their driveway. Thanks for the informative post. I've always put all self-publishing under one umbrella I didn't want to crawl under, but it's good to know ALL the options that are out there.
Jessica said…
LOL Quixotic and Jessie,
Now you all know what POD is. :-)
T. Anne said…
This comment has been removed by the author.
Jessica said…
Oh yeah, they're the "big" publisher of the e-world, I think.

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