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Five Things Your POD Subsidy Publisher Won't Tell You

Five Things Your POD Subsidy Publisher Won't Tell You
by Fern Reiss, CEO,

There are several good reasons to consider POD/subsidy publishers. But there are also many reasons why they’re not the most appropriate choice for most book projects. Below are five things your POD subsidy publisher probably won’t tell you. (For more information on your other options, see the article on subsidy/POD publishing at as well as the dozens of other articles on the website, and sign up for the (free) Expertizing email newsletter at

So what won’t your POD subsidy publisher tell you?

Nobody reviews our subsidy books. The trade press, such as Publishers Weekly, Library Journal, and Booklist, won’t generally review POD/subsidy books, whereas they will review self-published books. Your book, unfortunately, is unlikely to be the exception to this rule.

Bookstores don’t carry subsidy books. Partly because your book won’t receive a review (see point one—trade press reviews are how most bookstores make their buying decisions), partly because of the high price point, and partly because most POD subsidy houses don’t allow returns, most bookstores aren’t interested in stocking POD subsidy books. (Although the POD subsidy companies claim that books will be available to bookstores, being available ‘to’ bookstores is different from being available ‘in’ bookstores.)

Your book won’t look great. Almost everyone in the publishing industry can spot a POD subsidy book a mile away—and will run in the opposite direction. Your cover, interior design, and editing are all likely to suffer. (Ironically, since most of the POD subsidy houses use Ingram’s Lighting Source as their backend printer, your print job is the one thing that won’t suffer.)

Since we own the ISBN, we control the book. ISBN stands for International Standard Book Number, and all books have ISBNs. Some POD subsidy houses will now let you own your own book’s ISBN. But if they don’t—you don’t really control your own book. They do.

You’ll pay through the nose. To self-publish a 200-page softcover book might cost about $2 a copy. To POD subsidy publish the exact same book will cost between $5 and $15 per copy.

So if you’re thinking of publishing your family genealogy, or a church or synagogue cookbook, POD subsidy might well be the right decision. But if you’re writing a book which you hope will have widespread distribution into bookstores, stay away from POD subsidy. And tell your friends.


Fern Reiss is CEO of ( and ( and the author of the books, The Publishing Game: Find an Agent in 30 Days, The Publishing Game: Bestseller in 30 Days, and The Publishing Game: Publish a Book in 30 Days as well as several other award-winning books.  She is also the Director of the International Association of Writers ( providing publicity vehicles to writers worldwide. She also runs The Expertizing® Publicity Forum where you can pitch your book or business directly to journalists; more information at  Sign up for her complimentary newsletter at

Copyright © 2011 Fern Reiss


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