Self-Publishing The Old Fashioned Way – Print On Demand Publishing

Before there were online publishing websites, self-publishers did things a little differently. Self-publishing bore a striking resemblance to traditional publishing, except the authors wore every hat and did all of the work by themselves - unless they had the budget for some extra help.

Self-publishing with POD publishing, or print-on-demand publishing, is similar in some ways to online publishing in that you can still hire an artist, editor, and even book marketer if you have the funds to do so. The difference however, is that if you self-publish through any of the many online publishing websites, like Amazon, you will only get a fraction of the book sales, and you sacrifice your rights to the book - typically for the duration of your contract, and those contracts often stipulate exclusivity. Which means that if you can't make it there, you're not allowed to make it anywhere.

So yes, in traditional self-publishing, you have to handle everything – and the list of tasks is a very long one. However with the right guidance, a bit of elbow-grease, and some money set-aside for printing costs, you will also retain all of the rights to your book, you can sell it anywhere and any way you want, and you keep all of the money you make from your sales.

Some of the things that an author needs to handle for POD publishing include:

  • Getting an ISBN, bar code, and sales tax number – you may want to look into tax exempt status in other states while you're at it here.
  • Learn how to set-up a copyright page. Registering a copyright is optional, but if you are going to do so, handle it immediately after publishing and remember that the copyright office needs two copies of the book for registration purposes.
  • Send the best copy of the book (a hardcover one if possible) to the Library of Congress.
  • Obtain a good cross-section of POD publishing prices and ask to see samples of their work. Look specifically at the text, photos, and artwork quality.
  • Things to consider regarding production costs – paper stock, coatings, shipping weight, and cover weight, to name but a few.
  • All of the marketing for your book. Learn how to create a press-kit and set-up your own radio interviews and book store signings.

The main difference in POD publishing other than the work involved however, is that you need to have a budget available for printing your book. Online publishing houses require nothing up-front and simply take all of the costs from your sales. Print on demand publishing in contrast, requires that you pay for the cost of printing the books up-front.

Setting-up the presses for book printing costs the same amount whether you're printing 100 books (a short-run) or 1,000 books (a long-run), so make sure that you have the largest portion of your budget set-aside for the printing of your book.

Before determining how many copies you'll need, consider where you'll be selling your book and how much you're willing to spend for the first printing. After all, if the book does well you can always order more copies.





  • Why Does My Manuscript Ke...
    Here are five reasons why your manuscript may be rejected, and they have nothing to do with the quality of your writing!
  • Tips for Submitting Your ...
    There’s nothing magical about getting your work accepted. Here are some tips to give you a better chance of getting your work read and published.
  • How To Develop More Confi...
    Having fears, doubts and low confidence is all part of being a writer, whether you are new, experienced or even successful.
  • And Now for Book Two: How...
    There are a few ways a Book II is different from Books I, III and beyond. While no series is the same, many follow a set of suggestions that help Book II stand out.
  • 2021 Writers' Conferences
    We’ve compiled a list of 2021 writers’ conferences in the United States to help you find one that fits your needs.