Gigalillion, An Imprint of The London Press

About POD/Self-Publishing

Are POD and self publishing the same?

Yes and no. All POD users are not self-publishers, but the vast majority of self-publishers are POD users. See the main faq question below on print on demand to understand more in detail about each. Generally speaking, self-publishing refers to Authors investing their own monies to publish their work, whereas POD refers to a style and system of book fulfilment.

Gigalillion offer a POD system of fulfilment, as well as a more conventional sale or return system.

What is self-publishing?

Self-publishing is when an author funds the publishing of their book themselves as opposed to the funding coming predominantly from the publisher. Self-publishing is usually done via POD, but not always. Gigalillion offers self-publishing primarily via POD, but also, for certain books, a traditional style distribution option as well.

The main benefit to an author of self-publishing (aside from being able to get their work published and available for order), is that if their work sells, that they receive a very substantial portion of royalties – even up to 100% with some of Gigalillion’s packages*.

See the FAQ on well-known self-publishers for an interesting and extensive list of famous and well-known individuals who have utilised a self-publishing system at some point in their careers.

*subject to terms and conditions

Why should I pay to have my book published?

You don’t have to pay. Instead, you could invest time, energy and money for the next few years employing various agents to get you a good book deal with a large publisher. You might get a result - you might not. One thing that is surprising looking through lists of authors that have self-published, (see other relevant faq’s for a partial list of famous authors who self published), is just how many famous authors actually did start out self-publishing their work. It’s as if there was no way these Authors were going to go around pandering to some authority to publish their work for them for free!

For reasons why you might want to pay, please take a read through all the faq’s on this site. The important thing is to ignore all those who would deride self-publishing as vanity publishing – or some other derogatory label. Once upon a time, they might have had a point, but these days, your just putting down a payment so as to use the same technology as the big boys.

The whole aim of Web 2.0 and the democratisation of knowledge and information is that the ‘gatekeepers’ are no longer able to determine and control who says what and how. For one of the first and only times in human history you have access to a potential market of millions and millions of individuals through this technology. That it will cost you a modest amount… yes, it sure will, it’s not cheap technology to run.

About Print On Demand Publishing – (Detailed)

Though not exclusively, for the most part, Gigalillion is a POD Publisher. Print on demand (POD), sometimes called publish on demand, is a printing technology and business process in which new copies of a book are only printed after an order for the book have been received. ‘Print on Demand’ only really developed after digital printing began, because previously it wasn’t economical to print single copies of a book using traditional printing technology such as letterpress and offset printing.

Many traditional small presses have replaced their traditional printing equipment with POD equipment. Many academic publishers, including university presses also use POD services to maintain a large backlist; some even use POD for all of their publications. Larger publishers may use POD in certain circumstances, such as reprinting older titles that had been out of print or doing test marketing.

Print on demand, in combination with digital printing technology, is used as a way of printing items for a fixed cost per copy, irrespective of the size of the order. While the unit price of each physical copy printed is higher than with offset printing, the average cost per book is lower for very small print runs - because of setup costs (regardless of print run size) being much higher for offset printing.

POD has other business benefits besides lower costs (for small runs), such as:

  • The technical set-up is usually much quicker than for offset printing.
  • Large inventories of a book do not need to be kept in stock, therefore reducing storage costs, handling costs, and inventory accounting costs.
  • There is little or no waste from unsold products.

These specific advantages reduce the risks associated with publishing books and therefore lead to increased choice for consumers. However, the reduced risks for the publisher can also mean that quality control is less rigorous than usual. However, this is one of the areas in which Gigalillion excels, and quality control and assisting authors bring out the very best in their work is what our Masterpiece Book Creation System™ is centred around.

POD has fuelled a new category of publishing and printing companies that offer services directly to authors who wish to self-publish - for a fee. These services generally include printing and shipping a book each time one is ordered, handling royalties and getting listings in online bookstores. The initial investment for POD services is usually less expensive for small quantities of books when compared with self-publishing that uses print runs. Often other services are offered as well: formatting, proof reading and editing, and so on. Such companies typically do not allocate a budget for marketing. Ongoing developments suggest that further innovations will make POD even more effective and accessible. For example, as developments in online marketing technologies (based on collaborative filtering, social networks and paid search) are tuned and adapted to serve as better front-ends for POD operations.

As of 2009, print on demand book publishing is growing in popularity. In the consumer market, this growth is especially strong among first-time authors as an affordable and easy way to get a book into print while at the same time providing authors whose books sell in reasonable quantities the possibility of a substantial royalty stream – along with their continuing to ultimately own all important printing and distribution rights to their work. Transforming a good piece of work into a professional publication, can also assist authors with having their work taken on by a larger traditional publisher – as their work is more accessible and thus more marketable.

Among traditional publishers, POD services can be used to make sure books remain available when one print run has sold out, but books from another forthcoming print run have not yet become available. In addition, POD services can be used to maintain the availability of older titles whose future sales may not be great enough to justify a further conventional print run. This can be useful for publishers with large back catalogues of older works, where sales for individual titles may be low, but where cumulative sales may be significant.

Print on demand can also be used to reduce risk when dealing with ‘surge’ titles that are expected to have large sales but a short sales life (such as celebrity biographies or event tie-ins): these titles represent high profitability but also high risk owing to the danger of inadvertently printing many more copies than are necessary, and the associated costs of maintaining excess inventory or pulping unsold/unneeded books. POD allows a publisher to exploit a short ‘sales window’ with minimised risk exposure by ‘guessing low’ and thereby being able to utilise cheaper conventional printing to produce enough copies to satisfy a more pessimistic forecast of the title's sales, and then relying on POD to make up the difference.

Print on demand is also used to print and reprint ‘niche’ books that may have a high retail price but limited sales opportunities, such as specialist academic works. An academic publisher may be expected to keep these specialist titles in print even though the target market is saturated, thus making further conventional print runs uneconomic.

Profits from print on demand publishing are on a per-sale basis, and royalties vary depending on the route by which the item is sold. Highest profits are usually generated from sales direct from specialist book retailing websites or by the author buying copies from the publisher at a discount, and then selling them direct. Lower royalties come from traditional ‘bricks and mortar’ bookshops and other online retailers who insist on buying at a high trade discount. Some POD companies (as we do at Gigalillion) allow the author to set their own discount level.

Because the per-unit cost is typically greater with POD than with a print run of thousands of copies, it is common for POD books to be more expensive than similar books that come from conventional print runs. However, at Gigalillion, one of our main aims is get the RRP of your book at as a competitive level as possible. There are a variety of means of achieving this which we will discuss with your during the book production process.

Traditionally, book stores order books through a wholesaler or distributor, usually at a high discount of anything up to 55-70 percent. Wholesalers obtain their books in two ways; either as a special order where the book is ordered direct from the publisher when a book store requests a copy, or as a stocked title which they keep in their own warehouse as part of their inventory. Wholesaler stocked titles are usually available to a store via sale or return, meaning that the bookstore can return unsold stock for full credit at anything up to one year after the initial sale.

POD books are rarely, if ever, available on such sale or return terms because for the publishing provider it is considered too much of a risk. However, wholesalers keep a careful eye on what titles they are selling, and if a POD author works hard to promote their work and achieves a reasonable number of orders from book stores or online retailers (who use the same wholesalers as the bricks and mortar stores), then there is a reasonable chance of their work being made available on such terms by wholesalers to end retailers.

This difficulty with not being able to obtain books on sale or return can make bookstores less enthusiastic about POD books. However, this looks set to change in the near future, as the industry is currently debating a move away from sale or return altogether, which will do much to even things out.

Another issue with print-on-demand titles is the fact that they are often debut works. Bookstores can therefore be reluctant to take a risk on an author's first, untested work. This is why it is particularly important to ensure your work is as professionally put together as possible. There is no room for typos or errors of any kind, and layout must be of a high standard. Bookstore chains stock a good number of Gigalillion’s publications, though it is of note that these ones are some of the most professionally produced books on our list.

What is POD – and is it good or bad?

Please see some of the other FAQ’s for comprehensive details of POD, but as to whether it is good or bad…

Forget good or bad, rather quite simply it’s amazing. Self-publishing and POD are quite simply the next generation of publishing.

OK, so it’s not necessarily easy to sell 50,000 or 100,000 books because it takes a very considerable amount of marketing to achieve those kinds of sales. Regardless of how good a book is, members of the public still have to be provided with an awareness of a books existence – and that takes a considerable budget in itself. And maybe more importantly – a very strong drive on behalf of an Author.

But many self-published books, over a number of years, achieve sales of 5000 or 10000 - and what anybody says – that is a lot. Would you be happy with 5000 or 10000 individuals reading your work over the next few years? If you’ve a good piece of work, and you are willing to put effort behind marketing, then that is a very realistic and achievable sales figure.

Some people say that print on demand publishing is vanity publishing – is this true?

There’s going to come a point in the near future where this type of claim is just plain boring and outdated. It’s just representative of a way of thinking and thought that hasn’t caught up with the dynamic and exciting times we are living in. They’re probably the same people who would say that private individuals shouldn’t publish website blogs of their own, because only newspapers should be allowed to relate the news. Just ignore those people; they’ve usually an axe to grind, for some reason and/or insecurity of their own.