Breaking POD myths

<p>YouWriteOn.com started our print on demand (POD) project after recently publishing a book called <i>Bufflehead Sisters</i> through POD. The writer achieved a two-book deal with Penguin as a result of sales. There's sometimes a general opinion of POD that writers can't achieve much through it, and we were cautious too in what we hoped writers would achieve. We&rsquo;ve been amazed what some writers have achieved in two months - with a large number achieving book signings and being stocked in stores like Waterstone&rsquo;s and Blackwell&rsquo;s, and also authors getting quotes from luminaries like Terry Jones and<i> Chocolat</i> writer Joanne Harris. It breaks the myth of POD in many ways for us, and shows how proactive writers can really be in getting their books to readers. <br />
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Another truism about POD however is that many writers will just sell to friends and family.&nbsp; Our aim is to sell those POD books at lower prices with better-priced royalties for writers. For example, a 250-page book for &pound;6.99 from YouWriteOn gives a writer a direct royalty of &pound;1 to the author&nbsp; when sold through sites like Amazon. On Lulu, according to their retail calculator, the same page count book costs &pound;9.02 if the writer requests a royalty of 72p per book. And there&rsquo;s also anecdotal evidence that suggests lower pricing can affect sales &ndash; for example, one writer went into Waterstone&rsquo;s and when the manager saw one of our books was &pound;5.99 they ordered 10 instead of 5 for stocking.<br />
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YouWriteOn was funded by the Arts Council in January 2006 as the first peer review site of its kind in the UK. We now have leading publishers like Random House involved who feedback to new writers in our peer review ratings system. in which writers upload opening chapters and exchange reviews and ratings. Random House took on YouWriteOn member and <i>Caligula</i> author Douglas Jackson last year in a six figure book deal. <br />
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The involvement of leading publishers didn&rsquo;t happen overnight in 2006 though. We went through some learning curves as the first peer review site of our kind, growth took some time. Now with our additional publishing business, funded by us and not the Arts Council, we're similarly on a learning curve along with our writers. We were prepared for writers getting published, however the success of so many so quickly has led to a tremendous amount of work, often 10 hour days, seven days a week. <br />
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We&rsquo;ve had other issues to adapt too. For example, we had lots of great images provided by writers but less than 15% of covers provided by writers met our submission resolution requirements for covers. So we've been working very hard to remedy these, and providing new covers choices for writers, this has led to some publishing delays.<br />
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We are now publishing just over 1,000 books instead of the original 5,000 intended as part of our adapting to our growing publishing world. Our submission details to writers informed everyone that publishing by Christmas was an aim and not a guarantee, and that &lsquo;unpredicatable events&rsquo; may affect the timeline. Some of those events are above and on our home page, as well as author successes.<br />
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We are very committed to publishing everyone we can, and will be offering publishing again in the spring for further writers. <br />
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Feedback for new writers on YouWriteOn is diverse, it will be for us too. When we started in 2006 a fair comment about our new peer review idea might have been, as one critic put it, &lsquo;I can&rsquo;t see how this will work&rsquo;. Now with editors for publishers like Random House and Orion involved it may be different. Similarly for the publishing side, we will experience a mixture as we progress&nbsp; &ndash; a huge amount of writers are very pleased with their books, some of those still waiting are very displeased. We are very committed to completing publishing writers and hope they will in turn be pleased with the end too.<br />
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We&rsquo;re also giving 10% of YouWriteOn&rsquo;s publisher profits (not writers profits) for books sold to readers to Sightsavers this year, and so our writers have also helped to cure a good number of blind people through cataract operations so far.<br />
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I apologise in advance if any replies to this blog are not too quick, our priority is completing books so if I am on this blog for a week or more you know what I am doing (which I&rsquo;m sure will invite a few suggestions!)</p>