Top 5 Shenanigans of 5 Top Print-on-Demand Publishers

Brent Sampson

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5) Cosmetic corporate connections

Publisher B has a new corporate overlord in Amazon, but offers no carriage with Ingram, which means no order availability through many bookstores nor major website listings with competitors Barnes &,,, etc.

Hint: Find a publisher that offers wholesale distribution through Ingram (which includes listings on Amazon, too). Publishing is already competitive enough; your distribution channels shouldn't be.

4) Disavowing any knowledge

Publisher P calls itself a traditional publisher, even though it uses the same on-demand technology as other PODs. They require an exclusive 7 year contract (twice as long as most traditional agreements) and absorb all your rights before you discover the truth.

Publisher L doesn't call itself a publisher at all, but rather a conduit toward publication. It even features a picture of a machine “publishing" your book for you. Do you want a hot-water heater handling your pride and joy?

Hint: Sign a non-exclusive contract that you can cancel in 30 days written notice and pick a publisher that uses real live human beings to format your book.

3) “Free” on-demand publication

Free things require no commitment, which is a harsh finale for a book you labored to write. We have heard of authors who “published for free" and then the author forgot who published their book! As Vince Lombardi says, “The quality of a person's life is in direct proportion to their commitment to excellence, regardless of their chosen field of endeavor. ” Getting what you pay for was never more appropriate, as authors of free services can attest.

Hint: You get out of something what you put into it; choose your publisher accordingly.

2.5) “Free" publishing that isn't actually free

I have to slip in this bonus shenanigan. Publisher T claims they will publish your book for free, yet require a $3,985 investment from the author. Last time I checked, that wasn't free. Their justification? They reimburse the payment to you once your book sells its 5000th copy.

Hint: Ask them the percentage of times they actually reimburse their authors. Ask for the titles of the books and author's names. Then get the contact informaton for every one of those authors and confirm it.

2) Traditional publisher affiliations

Traditional publishers make the lions share of profits because they take a gamble on every author. Publisher U has executives from the traditional publishing industry; which means they know how to take an author's money up-front AND in the long run on the back-end.

Hint: If you pay to be published, make sure you make a higher royalty than a traditional publisher pays. And make sure you don't confuse “20% net profit" with a “20% retail royalty".

1) Charging to be profitable

In this competitive publishing environment, publishing is hard enough without having your publisher charging you for things that should be free. Publisher X recently introduced an option for $249 that lets you set your own retail price. And when you see this bar graph comparison, you will understand why: gif

Hint: Having pricing flexibility is certainly better than not having it, but you shouldn't have to pay for it.

Learn more about publishing your own book with a free e-book at . Brent Sampson is the President & CEO of Outskirts Press and the award-winning author of “Self-Publishing Simplified". A free ebook edition is available at .


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