Why Use a Print-On-Demand Service?
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.

Lightning Source
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.

 

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