Print on Demand

I’ve been following the print-on-demand (or self-publishing) issue for several years, watching as self-publishing has become (more) legitimized, and always with a bit of amusement given that some of the most revered authors in literature were self-published (ex: Virginia Woolf and Walt Whitman). What troubles me is that the “jury” still seems to be out on the value and virtue of self-publishing. For everyone who argues that self-publishing is a legitimate venue (but with the caveat that the author must invest the appropriate resources of editing and marketing), there is another who argues that the only legitimate way to authorship is through the usual line-up: agents, editors, publishing houses. Maria Schneider from Writer’s Digest wrote an interesting and link-worthy column about self-publishing, which you can find here. She recommends that a writer ask herself these questions before going with POD: (1) “What’s your goal?”; (2) “Are you a good self-marketer?”; and (3) “Have you done the research?”

I know that I would not be a good self-marketer. I can barely convince myself that anyone outside my very small and tight circle of friends and family would be interested in my writing (and I’m not always too sure about a few of them). But I do get frustrated with the waiting game: submitting a story and then waiting weeks, maybe months before getting any response. And this is even when I use electronic submissions. Which is probably why I like entering contests, even if I have to pony up a submission (or reading) fee: at least I’ll know by when I should get a response.

I would be really interested in hearing about your experiences with POD, or even just your thoughts on the whole issue. I keep thinking about Woolf and Hogarth Press, the idea of believing in yourself so much that you just go ahead and publish your own work, d**n the publishing house gatekeepers.

About Marie A Bailey

Writer, blogger, knitter, and cat lover.
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2 Responses to Print on Demand

  1. Patti Hall says:

    Still on the fence here, I do plan on self publishing the Postcards booklet, hopefully it will draw some readers to wait for the actual memoir. At this point I am sick of the word memoir. I may need to invent a new word.
    I can seriously relate to this, “I know that I would not be a good self-marketer. I can barely convince myself that anyone outside my very small and tight circle of friends and family would be interested in my writing (and I’m not always too sure about a few of them).”
    Marie, between me, you and the rest of the web, I do not want to market myself or my book. I have a serious aversion to the idea of book signings (I should be so lucky) or other publicity to sell. I’m more interested in writing it, publishing it and a very low key “marketing” to get it in the hands of people who would gain something from it. Maybe, that means writing is my vocation, not my career. Sounds about right.
    Sorry to take up so much room.


    • 1WriteWay says:

      Hey, Patti, you must be doing some research to dig up this old post 🙂 So much of it still seems to be true. I think the key is, why are you writing? Why do you want to publish at all? Not everyone wants fame and fortune … okay, let me rephrase that. Not everyone writes for the sole purpose of gaining fame and fortune. Many writers write because they simply have a story they want to share, and if their story is read by only a few, that’s fine. When you do self-publish, I believe you can count on a large number of blogging friends who will be more than happy to promote your book and maybe that is all the “marketing” you’ll want to do. With Postcards (and later your memoir), I think you may be pleasantly surprised by its reception. You’re not telling a story about fictional characters that the reader can forget about as soon he/she puts the book down. You are writing about REAL life and, more importantly, you’re trying to help others by sharing what you’ve learned in the process. I know that us fiction writers try to do that same thing through fiction, but there’s nothing more compelling than reading (and learning from) what someone else has gone through. Another “marketing” tool might be to donate some copies of Postcards to support groups. I’d love to see you make money off Postcards, but I’d really, really love to hear about Postcards being used to help people facing similar life tragedies 🙂


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