The Publishing Shakedown: On-Demand Publishing Fair & Balanced

Traditional publishing and self-publishing each contain traits that are featured in on-demand publishing.  That’s the first benefit of on-demand, or author-owned publishing – a hybrid of traditional and self publishing. 

With on-demand publishing, the author owns all rights.  That means the author retains all creative control and can accept offers from traditional publishing companies at any time.  The author has the freedom to reprint the book in other countries or produce related products such as CDs, DVDs, or audio books.

On-demand publishing also requires no minimum print run.  Unlike self publishing, the author is not required to purchase any copies up front.  If the book isn’t a super hot seller, the author hasn’t thrown away $15,000 on a garage full of unused, un-sold, dusty books.  On the other hand, if the book sells like hotcakes, the author can purchase copies at up to a 50 to 75 percent discount off the retail price, still making it very profitable.

The fact that the author retains control of his or her investment, whether it involves press run or marketing strategy, also contributes to more profits.  Self publishing, on the other hand, requires an initial investment of $15,000 to $20,000.  On-demand publishing is thousands less than that.  And, when publishing traditionally, there are substantial intangible costs.

On-demand publishing also includes distribution and order fulfillment.  That means professional speakers, coaches, and consultants are utilizing their time most efficiently to schedule more speaking engagements with more clients – not taking orders over the phone or standing in line at the post office.

On-demand publishing typically offers quick turnaround times of 3-5 months, worlds apart from the usual 9 to 24 months for traditional publishing companies. Most on-demand publishers can provide comprehensive professional services such as editing, cover design, and marketing.  This prevents authors from having to undertake tasks they don’t have professional knowledge of, which could seriously compromise the quality and success of the book.

There are few minor capability obstacles with on-demand printing, but they are worth mentioning.  First, there are printing format limitations.  The interior must be black and white, and the number of pages must range between 48 and 700. The author’s book is available in bookstores, but that doesn’t necessarily mean it’s physically in a bookstore; it must be ordered.  The author is primarily the muscle behind the marketing efforts. Last, there is a modest initial investment which ranges from $499 to $3,299 – still a significant savings over self-publishing.

On-demand publishing works for a range of needs, from authors who don’t want to figure out every detail and warehouse a lot of books, to authors who want the credibility of being able to say, “Buy my book anywhere books are sold.”  Many second- and third-time authors are exploring on-demand publishing, in addition to first-time authors.

Author-owned publishing is a versatile hybrid of traditional publishing and self-publishing.  It provides creative freedom and high profits, but requires marketing muscle. On-demand publishing offers the author flexibility to choose.

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