Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Large Publishers want in on the POD Business

The industry response to self-publishing is changing. In the beginning, agents and publishing companies were opposed to the self publishing. The agents still don’t like it, but now publishing houses are starting to jump on the Publish-It-Yourself bandwagon by starting their own self-publishing divisions. 
One of the most recent is called Harlequin Horizons. Yes, that’s right, Harlequin as in Harlequin Roman Novels. They’re using the typical self-publishing business model of selling packages that provide various levels of services based on how much the author is willing to pay. 
Isn’t this just revamping the vanity press model that’s existed for years? Maybe, but the biggest difference comes from change in affordability of self publishing using Print-On-Demand (POD) model
Companies like Createspace.com and Lulu.com allow an author to upload print-ready files and then to order any number of books.  With minimal costs and no print runs, authors no longer have to pay for books that they can’t sell. Want only two books? No problem. Just order two.
Of course, these books are also for sale to others through the internet. Authors don’t need to keep stock on hand; books are printed as they are ordered. But sales are going to depend on the authors ability to promote the book. With effort by the author, and hopefully word of mouth from readers, the book should sell. But the indications are that authors aren’t having much luck in marketing their books. In fact, POD industry numbers indicate that the average POD book sells fewer than 200 copies. 
Obviously, publishing houses wouldn’t be getting into the self-publishing service model if they didn’t think they could make a profit in it. So now for the the big questions: Are they looking to make a profit from the authors by selling the service package? Or are they hoping to find the next great novel hidden in the deluge of self-publishing authors?