My POD Book Arrived This Morning

My new Print On Demand (POD) book just arrived in the mail. To be clear, this isn’t what I consider a “real” book. It’s not a novel, or even an organized work of non-fiction. It’s a collection of blog posts that I cut and pasted into an application that allowed me to print my blog as a book.

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Why, you might ask? I created this little beauty to offer as a thank you to folks who donated to a new project I’m working on (called the Digging Deep Campaign – Unearthing Fact and Fiction About What We Eat). I don’t expect to make any money on it, other than the donations my partner and I have already received toward the project, but damn if it isn’t fun to see my name on the cover of a book.

It’s shiny, it’s in color, it looks just like a real book and it’s been tickling my vanity all morning. Even though I have emotionally set it aside as “not a real book” it has me very excited for the day that my work will actually be published. When I’m ready to take my novel or my narrative non-fiction book out to the world I intend to use a traditional publisher, so I know the road will be a lot longer, but just seeing this little “for fun” book has inspired me to hang in there. There’s something very satisfying about seeing one’s name in print.

The Bias Against Print-On-Demand

Here it is – the Month Without Monsanto blog in book form. Well, here’s a mock up of the cover at least. In case you’re new, I created this book to give as a thank you to folks who donated to my new Digging Deep food awareness campaign (our new website will be launching soon).

It’s my first foray into Print On Demand and I feel very fortunate to have an opportunity to explore the world of POD with this kind of low pressure project. 

Like many writers, I have a certain bias against self publishing. As a fiction writer (mostly) I feel like the hurdles of finding an agent and then a publisher act as a kind of vetting process. When I pick up a book at the book store, I know that at least a handful of people thought this story was good enough to put money and man power behind. With a self published book you really only have the author’s word that their story is good and that, to me, has always seemed like asking a new parent if their baby is cute.

Then there are the small presses. I don’t consider these publishers the same as POD. Take for instance Eye Muse Books

. A friend of mine started this company to publish a line of truly awesome travel books. Though she is technically self publishing, she is selling her books through traditional venues (book stores) which has the effect of bringing that vetting process to life.

It sounds like I’m saying that someone (besides you or your mom) has to think your book is worth money for it to be a good read. That’s not true, but when there are so many books I want to read in this world, a book that has the endorsement of someone else (be it publisher or book store proprietor) is more likely to get my attention.

The POD Adventure Begins

After doing some price comparison and reading up on the best Print On Demand (POD) options available, I’ve decided to go with to publish the book version of my Month Without Monsanto blog. (For more info on why I’m doing this read my post from October 15 2010.)

So far I’ve downloaded their design template, dropped a few photos onto my soon to be front cover and begin cutting and pasting my posts from the blog onto the pages of the soon to be book. The most time intensive work is the formatting. If it were one long document (like say the text of a novel or something) I’d be ready to publish by now. It really is super easy.

One thing I did underestimate is my page count. I guess my posts were a little longer than I realized, so I’m looking at a total page count of easily over 120. This increases the cost a little, but it’s still very affordable, particularly given that they’re having a 25% off sale on orders placed before November 2.

So I’m off on my POD adventure. Stay tuned to hear more about how it unfolds.

Adventures in Print On Demand

This Sunday morning marks the end of the Digging Deep initial fund raising effort. As of right now we only need $603 more, so if you haven’t given yet, please consider kicking down a few dollars toward the cause (see button in the right hand column there or click here). For those of you who have already done so, you know we’re offering rewards for our backers, and one of them is a bound version of the Month Without Monsanto blog, signed by me, the grateful author.

Of course, now that it’s looking like we might actually meet our goal, I have to figure out how best to produce said bound version of the blog. This will be my first foray into self publishing.

In total, I wrote about 75 blog posts about my Month Without Monsanto. None of them are terribly long, but I figure by the time I write an intro, I’m looking at an 80 page book at least. To produce this book/blog hybrid gem, I’ve decided to follow the model of Steve Almond’s “This Won’t Take But A Minute Honey.”

You don’t have to go any further than my last blog post to know I admire this guy and his writing, and the book is great (I actually bought two copies – one when it came out and the other when I realized he was going to be at AWP signing them and didn’t have my copy with me).

Almond used the Espresso Book Machine (EBM) to print his book. In an article in Writer’s Digest he talked about the economics of it, and if I remember right, it cost him about three dollars per book. That seems reasonable.

So now I just have to
1. Find an EBM (any ideas from the bloggosphere out there?)
2. Figure out how to format the content so it looks nice when it prints
3. Write and introduction
4. Figure out some cover art

Stay tuned. When I do find this EBM I will be sure to tell you all about it. In the meantime, go give a few dollars to my campaign – if only to watch me squirm as I figure out how to live up to my promises.