Wednesday, October 26, 2005

PANEL: POD vs Subsidy Vs True Self publishing

PANEL: Shelia M. Goss, Celise Downs , Vanessa Davis Griggs, Cheril N. Clarke, Gena Garrison, Teressa Leath

Come learn about self publishing

Post your questions in the comments section.

Please read the previous comments before you post, so we don’t have duplicate questions.

Please address your questions to a panel member or all panel members.


LaShaunda said...


Please share your experiences with Self pub or POD and why you chose the route?

LaShaunda - OO

Institute of Africana Cosmology said...


i've began the long process of self publishing in order to feed my ecletic writing style as well as my desire to create passive income. i was concerned that with all of the genres that i delve into that a traditional publisher would balk and hold up the publishing process and in addition to that the wait is long.

now that i'm in the mix so to speak i'm organzing my short and long term goals around writing and i think i have some material that could linger and lanquish for a few months to a year while some folks huddled over it deciding if it would be publishable or not. but while that's going on i'll have other items in print that will be working for me in the marketplace as well as helping me to sharpen my skills in the the publishing business and as a writer.

so far i've only prepared to self-publish in a ebook format but i am eyeing the more flexible pod publishers as well.


Shelia said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Shelia said...

I decided to self publish after readers of my unpublished works encouraged me to publish and after numerous of unsuccessful attempts to find an agent and a publisher.

I also took on the attitude, "If you don't believe in yourself, than who will." So I decided to take a chance on myself and invested my time, energy, and money. I've been blessed to have achieved some success as a self-published author--both books have landed on bestsellers list across the country--most notably, My Invisible Husband was on the Essence Bestseller's list this past summer.

Networking with other authors was invaluable. I used several books as reference tools. Dan Poytner's book was one of them.

I would recommend outright self-publishing if possible over POD. Lightning Source offers the advantages of self publishing but can also be considered POD. You can order as few as 25 books or as many as thousands. For anyone interested, their website is I used them for my current release and so far, I have no complaints.

Shelia (Badge#16)

Vanessa A. Johnson said...

Hi Cheryl,
I self-published my first book, When Death Comes a Knockin' utilizing a POD company ( I chose to go this route after unseccessfully attracting the eyes of an agent and a publisher (I have hundreds of rejection letters and emails as proof). I thoroughly enjoyed the experience with Lulu because 1) The cost was minimal - Under $150 for ISBN and distribution through Ingram, book cover, typsetting, etc.
2)I can order as ittle as 1 or as many books as I need.

Their instructions for uploading the book was quite simple and in less than two weeks I had my first ARC in hand...

For my next book, I may try the query thing with agents and publishers, but I'm leaning more towards following the same steps and going with Thanks for your wonderful insight into true self-publishing...

Love & Peace,
VeeJay, Badge #121

Zaria Garrison said...

I chose POD publishing through Publish America.

My reason for this is that I wanted the freedom of self publishing without the costs.

I found that with Publish America.

I submitted my manuscript and was accepted by them in April 04. My book was released approx a year later in May 05.

During that year my book went through PA's editing process and my cover was designed by one of their artists.

All of this was at no cost to me. I am paid on a climbing royalty scale that is competitive with other publishers.

The drawback is that PA does limited promotions. They sent out announcement letters to a list of names and addresses I provided. They placed my book in the online stores such as amazon, barnes & noble, and, and they sent a press release to my local newspaper.

Other than that promoting and selling my book is my job.

Just recently they began offering returns. This is something that is not usually done with POD books and it has made getting my book into stores a lot easier.

There are alot of negative things being said about PA from a select group of people online but my experience has been nothing but positive.

I would reccommend them to anyone who feels they have a manuscript that is ready for publication but they simply don't have the money to invest in getting it done.

The myth that a POD book is not availabe is untrue.

Anyone can walk into any bookstore in any city USA and order my book with the name, title or ISBN.

My hometown Barnes & Noble stocks my book because so many people went in and asked for it that they decided it was worth keeping on the shelf.

It's been alot of hard work, but no more than most self published authors go through.

I am very happy to be among the ranks of published authors.

Gena Garrison
badge# 76

Anonymous said...

Lulu and Publish America (PA) are different in that PA doesn't charge authors.

I've heard good things about all depends on a person's budget, need for control, and understanding of the industry. I think any vehicle can be good or bad if you don't know what you're doing or don't thoroughly read and understand contracts.

Linda said...

POD and self-publishing is a subject that is a source of many heated debates.

Unless something changes down the road I will be self-publishing my first novel next year.

My question to the panel is: What do you see as the evolution of self-publishing?

Linda said...

Oops. This is Linda Badge #141

Shelia said...

What do you see as the evolution of self-publishing?

Linda, to answer your question, I think it has come a long way. Most understand that self-publishing is a business and in order to compete with traditional publishers, the quality of books has to be in line with what's out there.

Anonymous said...

I agree with Shelia that in order to compete traditional publishers you must turn out a quality product.

Actually, I wouldn't use the word "compete" because a self-publisher can not compete with a tradional publisher right off the bat (unless you have the $ that they do). If you try to compete you will be crushed by their marketing muscle. You're better off finding a niche. However, you should make note of the industry standards on producing the book from editing to cover design. Hire a professional to edit, to design and to typeset and layout your book.

As far as the future of publishing I think for a while a lot of people will still go for the prestige of being published by a large house, but as time goes on and technology gets better more people will see that if they have the patience, drive and know-how they can make more by publishing it themself.

Understand that when you work with a large publisher you may only make 10% of the list price, and the agent will take 15%-20% of that. And if you are not a celebrity or a platform author it will be very unlikely that they will throw a large advance your way.

I think a better way would be to get picked up would be to prove a sales record, fan base and show that you are unafraid of the marketing work it takes to get your book out there.

If you want to make more and retain rights and creative control then learn the business and do it yourself. It can be rewarding in time.

Vanessa Davis Griggs said...

What do you see as the evolution of self-publishing?

I love the question regarding "evolution" of self-publishing. My name is Vanessa Davis Griggs. I am the published author of 4 books. 3 of those books I originally published through my own small press. Notice I didn't say I self-published, but worded it as to say I am the owner of my own company that just happened to publish my work.

Publishing is a business. Whether you self-publish or go with a mainstream publisher, it's still a business. What began centuries ago as an honorable way to get your words out on a large scale (Ben Franklin self-published), then went to what some people thought was vanity (you publishing your own work because YOU think it's good enough to be published) to what is now almost a right of passage toward getting someone else to notice your work and consider publishing you.

Many mainstream publishers look to self-published work to pluck from when they are looking to fill their rosters of releases. When you self-publish (whether you use POD which truthfully is not my favorite way to tell people to go; I'll elaborate a little more in a second) you establish for the publisher whether there is a market for your work, essentially taking some of the guess work out of the equation. Anytime a publisher publishes you, no one can be certain whether you'll sell any, many or very little books. When you publish it yourself, they see what you're capable of doing as a writer and promoter of your work. This still doesn't mean you'll do well, but it does give them a better feel for how you might possibly do.

Now to POD. Some people have already stated the downside to publishing with POD. And yes, people can walk into any store and order your book and get it, but there are some dynamics there that can keep you from selling as many or to make it work to your benefit. I think it's always a good thing (if you're going to spend the money anyway) to own everything (your cover, the typography layout, ISBN). So I would say if you're going to be involved like a publisher, why not just be the publisher. However, if your only way to be published or that's what makes you feel most comfortable, then proudly do what you feel.

The evolution of self-publishing is the entrance for those who might not would have ever seen their work be published to see it in book form and possibly gain the attention of mainstream publishers (if that's your desire) who still need books (good, bad, or indifferent) to stay in business. Incidentally, one of my self-published books did gain the attention of a mainstream publisher (PROMISES BEYOND JORDAN) and I received a 2-book deal because of that. Would I ever again publish my own books? I'll say this: at least I'm in a position to do that IF I so choose. Ultimately, it's all about having choices!

Vanessa Davis Griggs
Author of: Promises Beyond Jordan and Wings of Grace

zavi said...

I would just like to thank all of the panelists and SORMAG for providing all of this informative and valuable information for readers. This information has given me the knowledge I need to further my writing endeavors! Hats off to SORMAG! Badge #162 Zavi

Zaria Garrison said...

I see the future of self publishing growing larger and stronger.

The downside to that is that anyone with a few thousand dollars can publish a book. So for the increase in quanity, quality is going to be lost.

Currently there are alot of self published books on the market that have been poorly edited, have poor covers, and are poor stories. However the author was able to put money into publishing and promoting their work.

I've seen some readers complain that they would not buy a self published book for this reason. They assume that all are alike.

Many self published authors, and small press owners are putting out better quality than large publishing houses.

But with the influx and the ease of self publishing the need for stronger manuscripts and better stories is going to play a huge part.

The self published author is going to have to prove him/herself to a much stronger degree than ever before.


Anonymous said...

I totally agree with this, "The downside to that is that anyone with a few thousand dollars can publish a book"

That is so true, so what is a blessing is also a curse in the wrong hands. The only way around is as mentioned by most of us is to make your book look just as proffessional. In addition to that, secure pre-publication reviews that will give your book third party validation of being good. Clearly define your target audience and go to them. What works for me may not work for you.

If you are selling a book that is about college like in the 70's then you should seek out alumni associations. Make sure that the people in your core group of potential customers can be found.

If you are selling a book aimed at young adults then find out who the major book reviewer is in that sector and submit a pre-publication copy 3-4 months in advance.

If you're something with a new age feel, then try new age stores in general rather than traditional bookstores.

Anonymous said...

*college life

Anonymous said...

I meant to add one more thing regarding "self-published" vs. "owning a publishing company". It does help to present yourself as a company owner rather than a self-publisher.

In respect to doing this I'd suggest you create a fictious business name and not use (ex.) Jane Doe publishing. That's a dead give away. Also, file for the right to collect sales tax. You want to do everything legally correct so Uncle Sam doesn't come chasing you down later on.

Anonymous said...

I chose to self-publish after having a disappointing experience with a POD. I didn't think my little 116 pg paperback was worth $18.95. That's how much it was being sold for on the BN website. I thought that was ridiculous and thought I could do better myself. So I started my own company and reprinted by first book with my company.

I go to Lightning Source ( to have them printed. What I like about LS is that 1)When you sign up, you're automatically put on trade credit account. Buy Now, pay in 30 days. I like that, especially if I don't have the funds right away, but need books right now, 2) Ingram is my distributor and 3) Your books can be avail for domestically and internationally and 3)I have control over EVERYTHING. Including the price.

I don't regret the decision I've made. I'm lovin' it!

Celise, Badge #171

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