An Addendum to the Awkward Question

Thursday, September 1, 2011


^ This is me taking a deep breath.

The first thing I want to say here is that nothing I've said is privileged information; it's not even hard to find. I don't have special sources or resources, just Google. I'm not a publishing professional. To find those, I'd suggest going to Writer Beware, Absolute Write, or a blog called How Publishing Really Works. If you want to go the self-publishing route, then again check out AW, or look up Joe Konrath's blog or Amanda Hocking's blog. There's Nathan Bransford's blog archives and Query Shark and Pub Rants and on and on. All of these are awesome for gathering information.

I'm saying all of that to mean this -- No, I will not take the name of a supplied press and find out for you if it's legitimate or not. If you can email me or message me, you have access to a computer. If you have access to a computer, you can do a simple search yourself. I am not a counselor; I don't give career advice.

Don't make me make the 'mean face', it gives me wrinkles. *GRRR* (are you scared yet?)

START WITH GOOGLE. If that's not enough, then go to Preditors & Editors and look the press up there. Go to Absolute Write and check their Recommendations, Bewares, and Background checks sub-forum. You don't even have to be a member to use it.

If you're serious about writing as a career, then you have to do your own research and your own leg work, and you have to take your own chances.

Now that that's out of the way, I'll get into this, which is an offshoot of the "awkward question" post.

P.O.D. IS NOT EVIL. It's a technology, not code for "I am scamming you." Very large and very legitimate publishing houses use this technology. There's a very cool machine called an Espresso book machine that uses this technology to print you a personal copy of a book in 3 minutes while you watch.

All P.O.D means is "Print on Demand". (It can also be "Publish on Demand". If anyone tells you these are different, they are either misinformed or lying.) And all THAT means is that a copy of a given book is ONLY printed when it's ordered.

Normally, if you're with a commercial publisher, they decide how many copies of a book to publish when a book is put out. Let's say 5,000 for an example. Those 5,000 books are all printed at once, then stored in a warehouse until they can be shipped to the stores which are showcasing the book, or, in the case of Amazon, until someone orders a copy on-line.

With POD, this doesn't happen. A single copy of a book is printed when a single order comes in. (The lack of bulk printing is why most POD tiles are priced higher than mass produced books.) These books don't have a "stock" kept in warehouses, therefore if someone checks, they're "out of stock", but they can be ordered. When a press says a book is available "through major chains" or "through stores" as opposed to "in" them, this is what they're talking about. You can walk up to a counter, ask the clerk to order "Book Title" and they will send it to you.

POD is used for many reasons, out of print or niche titles among them. Don't freak out just because you see that Press X uses POD.

Yes, it can be confusing. Yes, it can be complicated. But, thankfully there's a ton of information out there that will help you find real answers.

4 Chiming In:

Simon Hay Soul Healer said...

I read the awkward question post and I appreciate you writing it. There really is no excuse for not researching agents & publishers online. It's our future. I wonder what's happened to common sense & patience. I guess all of us have done things that we wouldn't have with hindsight, but that's called maturity. I like twitter for research. Find one ethical reputable agent, editor or publisher and look at who they follow. Who do they tweet with? Professional ethical people flock together. Happy writing :)

Josin L. McQuein said...

An excellent point. Twitter is a wide reaching resource that makes it very easy to gauge a person's personality and style. There are so many avenues now that weren't open even five years ago.

Elizabeth May said...

It's situations like this where I sometimes get frustrated and link people to LMGTFY (Let Me Google That For You), just so they get the point. Perhaps not the most eloquent of responses, but I'm seriously astounded by how many people don't take control of their own research.

I do understand that for a person just finding an interest in publishing, all of this can be pretty overwhelming. There's the process of querying, finding an agent, trying to separate the legitimate ones from the illegitimate ones, and that's just the tip of the iceberg. But you're right that there are so many resources out there.

I firmly believe this: if someone is going to spend the time to write a book (which, all by itself, is not easy!) and attempt to get it published, then they should research, research, research to find the best home possible for that baby. It's easier to find information now more than ever.

Anyway, great post!

Michelle Davidson Argyle said...

Again, excellent post! I did a lot of research on my publisher before signing. Although they don't use POD at the moment, they might in the future. It drives me crazy that it has such a stigma attached to it. For me, every author and every book is different. My work is great with a small press right now. Later, I may need an agent and a larger publisher. It's nice to feel like I can move around, but research is a base of all of that.

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