POD: Part 3 – Pros and Cons of Using a POD Subsidy Publisher

In the previous post, we talked about the pros and cons of using POD for a self-published book. Now, let’s talk about using a POD subsidy publisher.

Subsidy POD publishers generally do not call themselves subsidy publishers. They may describe themselves as POD publishers or even self-publishers. However, if they offer the services of a publisher and charge for their services, they are subsidy publishers. A subsidy POD publisher may be the right choice for you, but understand your options and know what you’re getting.


  • A subsidy publisher relieves you of many of the responsibilities you have as a self-publisher. Depending on the company and the services you choose, you can avoid having to hire a cover designer, book designer, and possibly other professionals.
  • You may save money on cover design and interior layout. Again, this depends on the company and package of services you choose, but most POD publishers use standard templates for covers and interior layout. If you are happy with using one of the standard templates, it should cost less than having the cover and interior custom designed.
  • If you expect to sell only a few hundred copies of your book to a niche market, you can get those few hundred copies more efficiently – and perhaps more cost-effectively – with POD subsidy publishing.
  • You may be able to bring your market faster, and you will save yourself time. Self-publishing, even using a POD printer, will generally take more time because you, the author, are learning the new business of publishing. You will spend a huge amount of time researching and contracting with a number of vendors. POD subsidy publishers can often move faster because they have efficient systems in place.


  • Although you, the author, pay for publication, the POD company earns most of the revenue. You are paid royalties as you would be paid by a conventional publisher; however, with a conventional publisher, you would not pay upfront fees – in fact, you usually receive an advance.
  • Reviewers for major review venues – newspapers and magazines – generally do not review books from POD subsidy publishers. Since most of these publishers provide no screening of the material they publish, reviewers and others in the publishing industry know that a large percentage of books are poorly written and often unedited. Your book may be outstanding, but you’ll have an uphill battle trying to convince reviewers and bookstores to even look at it.
  • The price of books from POD subsidy publishers is usually too high to sell in bookstores. Book are usually discounted 55% in traditional distribution channels – bookstores and libraries. Either the retail price is too high to sell well to consumers or the subsidy publisher cannot offer the discounts required to get into bookstores.
  • POD books are usually not returnable, and bookstores order only returnable books. In the very unusual business model that is publishing, books are shipped to bookstores when they are ordered. But unlike other products, if the books don’t sell, bookstores can “return” them for credit. Returning a mass market paperback¬†actually consists of stripping the cover and sending it back to the publisher and discarding the rest of the book. About one-third of all books printed every year end up in landfills! Since most POD publishers don’t accept returns, bookstores generally won’t carry POD books … so you can order books as you need them, but you can’t sell them in a bookstore.
  • The quality and pricing vary considerably among companies. If you decide this type of publishing is for you, you must research the various companies and compare the services they offer and the prices they charge. Order a few titles to see if they are the quality you expect for your book.
  • Most titles from POD subsidy publishers sell fewer than 200 copies. There are exceptions, of course, and your book may be the exception, but many books sell only a handful of copies to the author. If you choose this publishing method, you must be prepared to promote your book heavily in venues other than bookstores. Of course, this applies to self-published books as well, but often, writers have the mistaken idea that if they pay a publisher to publish a book and put it on the publisher’s Web site, they will make lots of sales.

Other Opinions:

Ask Ron by Ron Pramschufer at Books Just Books

How to Choose a Print on Demand Publisher by Skylar Hamilton Burris at GoogoBits.com

The POD Quandary: How to Decide if Print-on-Demand Publishing Is Right for You by Brenda Rollins at Writing-World.com

Print on Demand by Writer Beware from Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America, Inc.

Print-on-Demand, One Year Later by Adam Barr – one author’s POD experience

The Supposed Problems with Self-Publishing by Richard Hoy at Booklocker’s Guide to POD and EBook Publishing

To POD or NOT to POD? Some Pros and Cons by Moira Allen at Writing-World.Com

The Truth About POD Publishing by David Taylor at PeakWriting.com

True Stories – stories of author experiences with PublishAmerica

Have you had experience with a subsidy POD company? If so, please share it in comments.

Share this!