“Is this bookstore discriminating against self-published authors?”

“Is this bookstore discriminating against self-published authors?”

Q –

Hi Angela,

I spent $2000 with (a large P.O.D. publisher). Three months of arguing with the design team. Finished up with what I consider to be a very presentable and engaging children’s picture book. I have spent $1200 with GoDaddy on something called a social media optimization team, which advertises the book to targeted and selected groups within society. I have sent a nice email to children’s bookstores all over the U.S. with an attachment of the cover.

Now, I have started to get replies, “No P.O.D.’s.” I am no expert but it has become obvious to me very quickly that there is a culture within the publishing industry of closing ranks against P.O.D. authors who challenge the status quo, much like the 70’s in England when they went from hot type to electronic printing.

How do I overcome this?


A –

Many retailers and even book readers assume that P.O.D. means self-published. P.O.D. actually means “print on demand.” The technology allows books to be printed one-at-a-time, on huge rolls of paper, alongside various other titles that are also being printed to order.

Many traditional publishers now use print on demand technology, too. While the per-book cost may be more, there is no longer any reason to print and warehouse hundreds or thousands of books. For best selling authors, traditional printing still makes sense. But, for books by unknown authors, the limited initial printing investment can be smart.

Of course, most self-published authors use a publisher that has access to a P.O.D. printer. And, that’s where the association developed.

Discrimination against self-published authors is not new but, in today’s society, figuring out which authors are self-published is now much easier.

The large retailers and distributors know which large publishing services are charging authors, and which ones will publish pretty much anything and everything. A librarian once told me that they never order CreateSpace books because the quality of those authors’ books, as a whole, is not good. (Note: CreateSpace is owned by Amazon.) If a publisher publishes pretty much anything and everything, sooner or later the retailers and distributors will decide they may not want to do business with that publisher anymore. Any author who uses an author meat market runs the risk of being judged harshly based simply on the name of their publisher.

The publisher you’re using IS an author meat market so I’m not surprised to hear that you’re being turned away by bookstores.

At BookLocker (https://publishing.booklocker.com/), we are selective about what we publish so we don’t have the same reputation for publishing bad books. And, since we limit the number of books we publish, we not an author meat market.

How can you overcome this? You might consider moving your book to a publisher that isn’t running an author meat market. Smaller P.O.D. publishers fly under the radar of the large bookstores and distributors. And, if you publish future books, be sure to submit to a publisher that is selective about what they publish.


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5 Responses to "“Is this bookstore discriminating against self-published authors?”"

  1. Michael W. Perry  September 15, 2017 at 2:05 pm

    Another factor for bookstores is that POD authors and publishers often don’t allow returns. If it doesn’t sell, the bookstore has to absorb the cost.

    Last time I checked, Lightning Source, which is CreateSpace’s main POD competitor, had rules that discouraged authors from permitting returns. You couldn’t ask that returns be placed in Ingram’s wholesale inventory. You had to either have the book destroyed, absorbing the cost of printing yourself, or have it shipped to you, which incurs shipping costs.

    That illustrates the downside of POD publishing. If a particular copy isn’t wanted, there’s no place in the system for it to go.

  2. joe sixpak  September 15, 2017 at 2:02 pm

    They are discriminating against bad books that won’t sell in favor of making a profit and staying in business.

    Sorry to hear that K. got suckered by a VANITY PRESS. Not the first, won’t be the last.

    She needs to learn how to promote and market books. And forget bookstores.
    Kremer’s 1001 ways to market your book and others on selling books would be useful.

    And she should be glad she is not in any bookstores. As Dan Poynter said ‘bookstores are a lousy place to sell books’. The returns will eat you alive especially at POD prices for making each book to be sold.

  3. pohtiongho  September 14, 2017 at 11:24 pm

    I told a book Store manager I wish to have my books displayed on one of those tables so that the buyers can access them easily. He told me I had to pay “100 over Singapore dollars every year for that service”. The correct English is: over 100 Singapore dollars.