Wednesday, July 20, 2011

POD Publishing by Betsy St. Amant

Many of you have asked me questions about how to get published and what my feelings are about self-publishing. The industry is constantly changing, and I don't have firsthand self-publishing experience, so I sent out a message on my writer's loops asking if there were self-pubbed authors willing to share their stories.

One of the responses came from the beautiful and talented Betsy St. Amant, which at first threw me because Betsy is traditionally published with Steeple Hill and, recently, Barbour. (Her first YA novel, ADDISON BLAKELY: CONFESSIONS OF A PK releases in January.) But she was initially with a print on demand publisher and thought you all might benefit from hearing about her experience.

If you have questions, I'm sure Betsy would be happy to answer them. Betsy is also judging the writing contest this round; don't forget to enter!

And now, here's Betsy:

In 2007, my very first book, Midnight Angel, was published through The Wild Rose Press, in their White Rose Inspirational line. The Wild Rose Press was a brand new POD Publisher, which stands for "print on demand". POD means that each book is printed one at a time after they are ordered, as opposed to how traditional publishers print a "print run" (an often unknown number of copies of your novel, anywhere from 10,000 to 100,000) at one time.
At the time, I had no clue how anything worked in the industry, and was just thrilled to know I was having a book published. I didn't have to pay to have it published, but I didn't get an advance, either. I only received royalities on copies sold (typical for a small publisher. Today, The Wild Rose Press does pay a small advance) Naive, I barrelled ahead full force, thinking my novel would be in bookstores and would become the next big thing.

But it wasn't, and it didn't. Bookstores wouldn't order copies to put on the shelf,
because they were afraid of not being able to return them. Because TWRP wasn't a traditional publisher, and because it was POD, my options were very limited and my sales minimal. The book, though only about 50,000 words, sold online at Amazon for $11 - a little high, considering that my Love Inspired Books now of 60,000 words sell for $5.75. I ended up discovering the best way to make money was to buy a ton of my book with my author discount, then sell them outright to family and friends and church members myself and keep the cash. I was in charge of all my own marketing, etc, which I also hadn't expected. There were a lot of surprises and I learned some life lessons. Looking back, I soon felt that my book wasn't completely ready to be out there, yet in regards to editing and structure and design but...there was it.

A few years later I acquired an agent, who sold RETURN TO LOVE to Love Inspired, and I've had 5 LI's published with a 6th one coming in April 2012 (my 5th one releases August 1st) The differences between small press/POD publishing and traditional is huge in regards to money, advances, marketing, and sales. That doesn't mean small press/POD publishing is bad, it's just different. My experience with POD was a positive one over all, and I made friends with my editor and was able to network and take those stepping stones to the next level and learn a LOT about the industry along the way. However, I do wish someone had been there to warn me up front about the differences of POD/small press publishing vs. traditional, to prepare me. :)


  1. Stephanie, thanks for having Betsy on your blog. I do have a question for her.
    What is your time commitment now that you are published by a traditional publisher? Are you committed now to work for them? (book tours, traveling, etc.)
    I ask this, because I am published by a POD publisher and I liket the freedom I get and the fact that I don't have to change my life at all to see my dreams of writing come true.
    S.B. Niccum
    Author Website
    Author Blog
    Chicks In Lit Blog

  2. I was also wondering how much time it takes up to be published by a POD publisher in contrast to a traditional publisher.

  3. Hi S.B. and Princess! Thanks for reading :) To answer your question, I don't feel tied down at all. It's pretty rare these days for a publisher to send an author (especially relatively new ones) on book tours or traveling. Some Houses still send their big names on tours, but hey - that'd be fun. :) With Love Inspired, they do like to "keep" their authors, (which is a compliment!) but it is definitely possible to write for another house at the same time in a different genre. (As I am now doing with Barbour for YA)

    Does that answer your question?

  4. this was a great post :) Thanks for posting Betsy! I've considered self publishing sometimes... but I know that its not very easy to get your book noticed.

  5. Jazmine, you're right, marketing alone is very hard. That's not to say it isn't worth a try! Some can be successful. But I say save self publishing or even POD publishing for a novel in which you have already exhausted traditioanl possibilities. Why not try for the ideal first? :)

  6. Hi!

    Thant was a really cool post:)

    -Elisabeth Greenwood:)

  7. This was very informational, thanks!Even though some of the stuff was hard to understand I got the basic gist.I don't know what I'm going to do when I reach that point.I'll cross that bridge, or decide how to cross that bridge, when I come to it.Sierra
    Keep Growing Beautiful♥