|Why Use a
Some people hear "print on
demand" and they are immediately turned off by the idea. This is because
POD is the modern-day equivalent of vanity presses. Vanity presses are
publishing houses or printers that will publish anything someone wants to
publish, so long as that person pays for it.
A Vanity-Press Example
So Joe Blow, who has written what
he considers to be The Great American Novel, shops it around to publishers
and agents, and is rejected by all of them. They tell him why: poor
writing, bad English mechanics, slow pacing, cardboard characters, etc. He
was always told why his material was unpublishable, but never listened.
Perhaps he thought they were all wrong. Maybe he just had a gigantic ego
that couldn't accept the criticism. Whatever the reason, Joe decided he'd
do it on his own. So he went to a vanity press, paid thousands of dollars,
and had his book published with a classy layout and a professional cover,
and the press sent him his 2,500 copies... which all mostly gathered dust,
because Joe knows nothing about the business of selling books, and only
his close friends and family are buying.
POD is the same thing, but with many PODs,
it costs very little or nothing to publish, because PODs don't print 2,500
copies of the book. The PODs print copies only when orders come in -- they
print on demand, as the name says. There's little setup, no extra
overhead, and Joe Blow-types don't spend thousands to publish their work.
Ease of Publishing
POD has made it easy for
small-press publishers to get books and magazines published, but POD
doesn't ensure quality. I'm not talking about whether or not readers will
enjoy the stories; I'm talking whether the writers are even reasonably
competent in putting sentences together, in building reasonably structured
stories with plots, characters, themes, resolutions, etc. And I'm talking
about whether the editors are truly editors--whether they have the
expertise to actually edit! Way too many don't understand the basic
mechanics of the English language; they think parroting back Stephen
King's claim to not use adverbs makes them effective editors.
POD has the capability to be a serious
publishing endeavor, and probably will be the major source of publishing
in the future. In some cases, it could exceed the quality of some of the
large-press publishers (if you don't believe me, read any random page from
a Stephanie Meyer book, and you'll see what I mean--assuming you're not a
tween and have a basic understanding of competent writing, anyway).
I'm publishing via POD for one main
reason: it's inexpensive. I don't have to come up with thousands of
dollars in the hope that I'll sell copies. I can focus on my editorial and
layout skills, and produce a quality book. (Whether you personally enjoy
the stories is up to you, but I promise I'll strive to publish clean,
quality prose that is edited, polished, and worthy of seeing print.) I'll
add to that a commitment to marketing the books, however grassroots that
marketing may be.
But the real quality is up to the writers
whose work appears in such anthologies.
Epic Saga Publishing uses
Lightning Source, a division of Ingram, one of the two major book
distributors in North America, as its POD printer and fulfillment agent. So, if PODs turn you off, put it in reverse and
hightail it out of here.