More on the POD people

Netted in the flotsam and jetsam of comments (POD people) was this:

From the iUniverse web site:"iUniverse's services in book publishing are endorsed by industry leading author organizations, including the Authors Guild and ASJA. iUniverse is a proud member of the Association of American Publishers, Publishers Marketing Association, and Small Publishers Association of North America. The company's major investors include Warburg Pincus and Barnes Noble."Anyone endorsed by the Authors Guild, ASJA, and Barnes Noble is not a scam. There are many POD companies that are out to rip people off, but iUniverse seems to be legitimate. I am not exactly impartial, however. My cousin and I used their services to publish a biography of our grandfather. This book was exclusively for our family and everyone was thrilled with the result. We were extremely pleased with their service, low cost, and the final product.

When was the last time you heard an author say "We were extremely pleased with their service, low cost, and the final product" when talking about a book published by Random House? Simon and Schuster? Hell, forget the big boys. How about Ig Publishing in Brooklyn? Akashic?

Never is the correct answer. That's a phrase you hear on television from someone endorsing a a product like storm windows or trusses.

iUniverse is selling you a product in the shape of a book. You are the consumer, even if you provide them the content they print.

If you want a short print run and limited availability (such as with a family bio, or a family cookbook...or Miss Snark's Guide to Clooney Love) one of these POD mills is certainly worth considering.

If you want your book to be in stores, it's not. It's that simple.

These POD mills make their money from the money you pay to publish. Publishers from Random House down to Ig Publishing make their money selling books. It's that simple.


Bonnie Calhoun said...

you are so right, Miss Snark. I have seen many traveling evangelist and speakers who hawk their own books on the road, and they are ALL without question POD's. But for this type of person who has a built in, specific audience, it works. Just like someone who is workin' a family history or such. For the rest of the world.....well, they can't say that you didn't warn them!

I think the most important part of a royalty publisher is that they don't take a book unless it is good enough to have a chance of making money. A POD doesn't care if the book is good or God aweful bad, just the fact that they print the book, makes them money.

C.E. Petit said...

Just a couple of random comments (pun intended):

* Remember that Random House is a major investor in XLibris.

* When you contract for services with a POD vanity press, you are not a consumer. This is a business-to-business transaction. And this is bad: It makes BBB ratings meaningless (as the BBB explicitly concerns itself only with consumer transactions, and rather unsatisfactorily at that), and it makes consumer-protection law unavailable in most states. In turn, the latter means having to prove common-law fraud to get relief… and knowing that it's fraud and proving it are two different things.

* Surely Miss Snark's Guide to Clooney Love would be published, lovingly, in a short print run by a specialty press, with leather covers, handset typography, and a Smyth-sewn binding. It's just too special a book for POD. Besides, Miss Snark should rightly want to restrict the readership to those able to afford $75 and up for a novel; Mr Clooney himself requires such devotion. Right? ;-)

Devoted Snarkling said...

Testing. I'm having a problem posting comments. Is it just me?

Devoted Snarkling said...

OK, what I wanted to say was that one of the most depressing things about self-publishing POD is that a lot of people (who aren't connected to publishing or bookselling) don't know the difference between those books and the books published by Random House.

Not too long ago I was at a party and my friend introduced me as a published author. (not Random House, but a mid-sized royalty-paying publisher.) The response was, "Oh, my cousin is saving up so he can be published, too."

Bernita said...

"...my cousin is saving up so he can be published, too."

Now that's a find-myself-flat-on-the-floor-stunned blind-sider.
What did you SAY?

harridan said...

Wow, Devoted!

I too am stunned.

For once I am internet speechless (and trust me, that's not something that occurs often.)

countessolenska said...

Also . . .

The Authors Guild does not blanketly "endorse iUniverse."

The Authors Guild has a reprint program called Backinprint (www.backinprint.com) which allows Authors Guild members to republish their out-of-print books via iUniverse free of charge.


Kristin said...

Oh no! I'd never even thought of the negative impact POD prevalence might have on the public perception of authors in general. Eeek. You work hard to write a good book worthy of publishing, not to mention getting an agent and making it to publication - then you don't even get credit for it from the general public!

MJ said...


I can only go by the web site, which specifically says "endorses," and I'm sure they know more about their partnership with the Authors Guild than you or I. Anyway, I don't really feel like arguing about stuff neither of us know about. I'm just saying that when a company like iUniverse has these types of partnerships, it says a lot about their organization (that is why we chose them). You don't see shady POD companies (i.e. AuthorHouse or PublishAmerica) with these types of partnerships.

To dismiss every POD company as a scumbag or scam is simply inaccurate. As in any business, there are those that are ethical and reputable, and those that are not.

Devoted Snarkling said...


What could I say? "Oh, that's wonderful!"


You are so right, and that's just the tip of the iceberg.

What's worse is when you try to schedule book events with booksellers or get some publicty (which most authors must do these days). The reflex response is one of pity and trepidation as they back away slowly until you quickly say, "I was published by ABC Press. The book won XYZ award, and is in its third printing."

People in the business automatically assume you're self-published until you qualify yourself, and the general public doesn't know the difference. It may be unkind to say, but flooding the market with so many self-published/POD books makes it that much more difficult for traditionally-published authors to get respect and attention.

countessolenska said...

About that sentence from the iUniverse website . . .

It reads: " . . . iUniverse's SERVICES in book publishing are endorsed . . ."

Backinprint is a service provided by iUniverse and it is the only iUniverse service that is associated with the Authors Guild. The Authors Guild created Backinprint and wholeheartedly supports that service. It is a free service provided to Authors Guild members to reprint books which were once published by traditional -- not POD -- publishers but which are now no longer in print.

You cannot enroll vanity-published or POD books in Backinprint, not even books first published by iUniverse. In fact, you aren't even eligible to join the Authors Guild if you've only published POD books.

And Backinprint is free, free, free.

Kat said...

I went through this while trying to talk someone out of Publish America. My attitude remains the same: it's not that their services suck (as long as they provide 'em. Some don't.) It's not that the quality of the books they publish suck (though most do.) It's not even that they give us writers a bad name - let's face it, us nutjobs never had a sterling reputation to start with.

It's their sales pitch.

Because their sales pitch does not say, "publish with us, sell a couple books to your friends, and have the satisfaction of seeing your words in print," which I would be okay with, though it's not what I'd choose for my writing.

No. Their sales pitch says "Publishers?? Who needs them??! They MESS with the SANCTITY of your WORK! Publish with US and you will have CONTROL and you will sell a bazillion copies, just like the Chicken Soup book, and become a millionare, and all without having to share your GIANT PROFITS with some COMPANY!!!"

This is the kind of stuff written by someone who knows and understands the writer's deepest dream (and giant ego), who has seen right into the depths of our hearts, and has said to himself, "Hey, I could make a mint playing these sods."

Even my friend, who went into the thing as open-eyed as anyone could, fell for it a bit. Certainly I think he's disappointed at some of the treatment he's received from PA's "Customer Service", not to mention by selling only 50 copies of his book.

I do not like scammers. Self-publishing is far too often a scam in deed if not in law.

MJ said...

I agree, iUniverse has teamed up with Authors Guild to provide an excellent service for their members...for free, free, free. It says a lot about the company, its reputation, and its desire to provide a professional service for those who want it.

For those who think they can print something up, make it available on the Internet, and rake in millions, I think they have problems of their own. There are just some people that believe so strongly in their book that no one can tell them otherwise. I'm sure Miss Snark has run into her share of people with this attitude. There are some people who write a crappy book, but just know deep in their heart that it will sell millions of copies. It's like they're in a cult, except they've brainwashed themselves.

Shadow said...

* Remember that Random House is a major investor in XLibris.

I'm sure they are. Sounds like a very savvy business decision. There's a ton of money to be made from the multitudes of people willing to pay to have their trash published, making it a win-win investment for a publisher like Random House. They make money both on the decent books they choose to publish as well as from the dreck they wouldn't touch with a ten-foot pole. (Not to mention the subtlety of appearing to legitimize XLibris, possibly lulling authors trying to perform their due diligence.)

(My, my, aren't we cynical this evening.)

roach said...

Actually I doubt that much of the reading public is even aware of the existence of POD books. In order for the majority of the reading public to get ahold of a POD book it would have to be available in bookstores. Since very few POD (or pay to publish) books reach bookstore shelves, there's very little chance for confusion.

lady t said...

One of the probelms with PODs is that so many people who hook up with them don't understand that just having a book
printed up means that you will be a best selling author. We get some of these folks to do siginings at my bookstore(most of the friends of the owner who insists that they invite a good number of people to attend to make it
finanically worthwhile). I've had people try to haggle prices with me(I was stuck dealing with this couple because my boss didn't want to deal with them) and one woman who said"I have to be guaranteed if I do this" on asking us about
self-publishing(we're only one tiny bookstore,lady!).

Authorhouse is a pain-we had one signing with someone attached to them and they put us on some submissions list where
we kept getting solictations from folks in Arkanasas and California(our store is in a small section of NY that does not have alot of foot traffic)to carry their books and have a signing. All newbies think an instore signing makes them bigtime(even writers published at the major houses can have bad,low attended signings-plenty of horror stories there).
I had to e-mail Authorhouse to make then take us off the list.

Also,many POD books are sold online which is why,in my opinion,they are a growing crop. I've seen some of these in person and you can tell right away what it is.