P.O.D. SECRETS REVEALED: Upselling Authors On Expedite Fees, Photos/Images, Endnotes, And More!

This week, we’re going to look at how some P.O.D. publishers upsell (nickel and dime) authors on products and services that should already be included in their outrageous setup fees.


When authors are researching P.O.D. publishers, they often just look at the setup fees and assume those include everything. And, honestly, they should! If you’re going to charge an author a thousand dollars or more, offering an entire list of fee-based “options” that any normal person assumes would be included in their book isn’t really fair or ethical, in my opinion.

For example, let’s talk about publication time. Basically, this is how it works. The author signs up for the publishing service, submits their manuscript, and then discusses the book’s interior formatting and cover design with the P.O.D. service. The process isn’t that hard. At BookLocker.com, I format books for authors every single day. I often format a manuscript within 3 business days of it arriving on our server or in my inbox. When an author orders a cover from us, he/she starts talking to our designer about their cover usually within 24 hours. If an author submits their own cover, I usually check it and place a barcode on it, again, usually within 24 hours.

I send the manuscript back to the author for any final changes. They then send it back to me so I can finalize the formatting, convert it to pdf, and send it to the author for final approval. In the meantime, I send the final spine width and barcode information to the cover designer. Once the interior formatting and cover design are approved by the author, I upload the files to the printer. About a week later, the print galley is enroute to the author. This entire process usually takes less than a month. Why it would take anyone else any longer than that I have no idea. Perhaps they’re understaffed? Maybe their staff is in a third world country? (Yes, some of the large P.O.D. publishers outsource overseas!) Maybe they’re just in over their heads?

Would it surprise you to know that you can pay a P.O.D. publisher way more money than you should to get your book into print…and then have to pay them even more just to get your book on the market in a couple of months instead of several months?


Here are the published turn-around times of the major POD publishers:

BookLocker.com (which the author of this article owns): 1 month

AuthorHouse (owned by Author Solutions): 4 – 6 months

Xlibris (also owned by Author Solutions): 3 – 4 months

iUniverse (also owned by Author Solutions): 3 – 6 months

Trafford (also owned by Author Solutions): 6 months

CreateSpace: No time-frame promised on their site but, according to THESE COMPLAINTS, it looks like their publishing process can be pretty frustrating.

Lulu: Also no time-frame promised on their site but, based on THESE COMPLAINTS and THESE COMPLAINTS, it appears they have a frustrating publishing process as well.


Booklocker.com: 2-WEEK EXPEDITE SERVICE – Through the regular program, publishes books in approximately 1 month with no expedite fees. For authors who require publishing within 2 weeks, the added expedite fee is $450.

AuthorHouse: 45 DAYS – $500 extra for 30-day turnaround (instead of 4 – 6 months).

Xlibris: TWO MONTHS – $349 for 2-month turnaround (instead of 3 – 4 months)

iUniverse: NO TIME GUARANTEE. Publishes book in approx. 3 – 4 months but you can get their “Express Service” if you sign up for one of their top two packages, which are (gulp!!) $3399 and $4449.

Trafford: NO TIME GUARANTEE. They call it “Priority Service” but it only appears to be available through their most expensive packages and we couldn’t find it listed anywhere as a separate service. The packages range from $2199 – $3299. And, the packages appearing on their site that mention “Priority Service” appear to be old because they don’t have packages at those exact prices anymore. In fact, they’ll be happy to take $10,999 of your hard-earned money for their most expensive package. Ridiculous!!!

Lulu: N/A – Does not appear to offer an expedited service.


Some authors just include text in their books but many authors include photos, artwork, charts, or other graphics. Would it surprise you to learn that, on top of their already expensive fees, some POD publishers charge authors extra to include photos and other graphics in their black-and-white-interior books? How much?

Booklocker.com – Zero and no limit on the number photos and other graphics in black-and-white-interior books

AuthorHouse – $5 per image

Xlibris – $10 per image; $20 per table

iUniverse – Nothing for 1-25; $5 each if the author has more than 25.

Trafford – If you have a specific number of images, you must sign up for the package that includes that number. For example, if you have 15 images, you will need to pay for the $1349 package. If you have 25 images, that’ll cost you $2499…all the way up to $10,999 if you have 120 images. I’ll say it again. Ridiculous!!!

Lulu – If you have more than 25 images, you must sign up for their most expensive package at $4949 (OUCH!). If you have 1-15 images, you have to sign up for their second most expensive package at $1649 (ouch again). You can only use their cheapest package if you have no images…which is still too expensive.

It is unfortunate that many authors don’t even think to ask how many weeks or months it will take for their book to be published, or if they’ll be charged extra for photos and graphics. Some POD publishers also charge extra if authors want to include a table of contents, endnotes, footnotes and more! The list of items authors are nickel and dimed for seems endless! (Note: For black-and-white-interior print books, BookLocker.com does not charge extra for these items.)

It is imperative that authors read their contract and the publisher’s price list (some call these “add-on services” or a similar term) thoroughly before sending in their money! You’ll never know what you’re getting, OR WHAT YOU’RE NOT, unless you do!

Angela Hoy is the Publisher of WritersWeekly.com and co-owner of the POD firm BookLocker.com. WritersWeekly.com is the free marketing ezine for writers, which features new paying markets and freelance job listings every Wednesday. According to attorney Mark Levine, author of The Fine Print, BookLocker is: “As close to perfection as you’re going to find in the world of ebook and POD publishing. The ebook royalties are the highest I’ve ever seen, and the print royalties are better than average. BookLocker understands what new authors experience, and have put together a package that is the best in the business. You can’t go wrong here. Plus, they’re selective and won’t publish any manuscript just because it’s accompanied by a check. Also, the web site is well trafficked. If you can find a POD or epublisher with as much integrity and dedication to selling authors’ books, but with lower POD publishing fees, please let me know.”

Angela’s P.O.D. Secrets Revealed Series can be found HERE.

Got questions about Print On Demand and Self-publishing? Ask Angela.

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