POD People
POD People

A print on demand printer is a big machine that produces whole books one at a time. For anyone who spent time as a copy machine jockey at Kinko’s, the POD machine is about the same size as a commercial high volume black and white copier. Like magic, digital information is input at one end and sweet little books pop out the other.

While there is something immensely satisfying about a royalties check, there is nothing like holding your own book in your hands. If it’s royalties you are after, then e-books are the place to be. But I don’t know that holding your own book on your e-reader is quite the same as a real paper book. E-readers are great, but my first memory of an e-reader is watching Wil Wheaton read one as he wandered the halls of the Enterprise and me saying, “A book without pages? Never!” And yet here I am, earning my keep selling books without pages.

Because I love books, I am a POD person. I took the easy road to the POD. After a month of mad noveling, I was a winner of National Novel Writing month (note: everyone who writes 50,000 words in November is a winner) and my fantastic prize was one free proof copy at Createspace, valued at about $6.95 (cost of proof copy before enrolling in distribution channel.)

The average book published by an author via a POD service sells less than 200 copies. In fact, one of the most user friendly companies, Lulu, has stated their business goal as having, “…a million authors selling 100 copies each.” My own POD sales support this; out of the over 7,000 copies of my novels sold, less then 100 have been through the print on demand venue. Yet, each month I sell a handful of paper copies of The Mitzy Neuhaus Mysteries so I consider the POD versions of the books a service I offer readers.

If you want the happy feeling of your own book in hand, or if you want to offer your readers the option of a quality paperback book delivered to their home, POD is the easiest and cheapest way to go about it.

Two of the most popular Print on Demand printers are Lulu and Createspace. Lulu has remained firmly independent in a world of consolidation, while Createspace is the amalgamation of BookSurge and Amazon.com, now owned entirely by Amazon.

Using a 250 page trade paperback novel with black and white interior and full cover copy as an example, this is how Lulu and Createspace compare:

Lulu.com Createspace.com
Proof Copy Cost $9.50 $4.69
Retail Cost $23.00 $12.99
Distribution Channel Costs $75.00 $39.00
Prepublication cost range $650-$4729 $299-$2567
Time to Online Retailer up to 13 weeks 11 days


The pre-publication packages are services both companies offer but do not require. Through dint of hard work and much banging of my head against the walls of Microsoft Word processing programs, I managed to accomplish everything both companies offer, but for free.

Both companies also offer marketing solutions. At either company you can choose services a la cart or go gangbusters with pre-publication and marketing solutions packages ranging from $5,000 to $9,000. Very few POD books will ever see that money returned in profits.

The distribution channels that I compared both offer listing in Ingram’s, the place you want to be if you want libraries or book stores to order your book, as well as being available at Barnes and Noble’s online store and Amazon.com. Lulu offers two lower priced distribution channels, but the do not have Ingram’s listing included, which is the most important listing for an independent author.

In the end it took several proof copies to see my first book as a complete, professional product and I also chose to pay the $39 to enroll in the distribution channel. Though I haven’t reached the average of just under 200 sold, I have more than made up my initial investment and provided a service to the handful of real book lovers in the world.


Traci Tyne Hilton is the author of the independently published Mitzy Neuahus Mystery series. In addition to writing mysteries, Traci is a die hard childrens ministry worker. Story telling is her favorite job in the ministry but she also rocks balloon animals and wild games. Traci has written grant proposals, blogs , essays on etymology , Bible studies, Sunday School curriculum, novels, short stories, history essays, and plays. She hopes to do many more of the above, God willing and the creek don’t rise. The Mitzy Neuhaus series is available at amazon.com and barnesandnoble.com in paperback and ebook. More of Traci’s work can be found at http://www.tracihilton.com

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