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Print-on-demand (POD) services are a popular choice for self-published authors because they represent low financial risk. The books are literally printed on demand, with services charging the consumer and paying the author a fixed fee from the sale, once costs have been deduced.

How it Works

Modern print-on-demand services are designed with the author in mind and therefore have very friendly interfaces.

  • Typically, an author prepares his or her manuscript using software such as Microsoft Word or Adobe InDesign, then saves it in a fixed-layout format such as PDF. See How to prepare a POD cover file.
  • The author also prepares the cover, typically one file containing both front and back covers, that wraps around the book (see How to prepare a POD interior file).
  • The author then uploads the file to a web interface provided by the POD service, and completes vital information such as the blurb and category information.
  • Next the book is reviewed by staff at the POD service, who check for quality issues. Some services allow you the opportunity to approve a digital proof.
  • The author then has the option to order a printed proof copy, which he or she can check for suitability.
  • Once a proof has been approved, the book's details are typically sent to book retailers, who list the cover, blurb and other details.
  • When a reader orders a copy of the book, the request is sent to the POD company, who send the order to the printers. The printer prints the copy and sends it directly to the customer.
  • The POD company receives the payment from the customer and uses it to cover costs such as printing and distribution. Then, after the POD company have taken their cut, a royalty is credited to the author's account.
  • Royalties can usually be withdrawn once a threshold has been met.

List of Print-on-Demand services