Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Self-Publishing using Print On Demand Technology

by Wena Poon

Last year, I had the great satisfaction of self-publishing my sci fi novel, Biophilia, and retailing it worldwide through Amazon.com.

The entire process only took a month or two, from first submission to retail on Amazon, because it is completely automated. Anyone who is Web savvy can do it.

Best of all, it only required a relatively modest personal investment of US$500 for the entire process.

There are many companies who offer self-publishing services today. The company I used was BookSurge.com, a subsidiary of Amazon.com. I chose BookSurge because I have had good experiences with Amazon and hoped that their subsidiary would also deliver quality service. I was quite happy with the result.

Book Surge offers print on demand (POD) technology. POD means that the book is not printed until someone clicks to buy it online.

To start, have your completed manuscript ready in MS Word format.

You open an account with BookSurge with a credit card. You will get your own username, login, and personal account page. You can pick your book font, book cover template, upload your own cover art, and upload your MS Word manuscript. After a week or two, the company will email you proofs. You go through an automated online correction process, and approve the final proof online.

You will then receive a few complimentary printed copies of your book and then have the pleasure of seeing it available on Amazon.com.

The advantages of this type of publishing are many.

I was able to share my work with friends around the world because it is available on Amazon.

I make 25% royalty from all Amazon sales, and the royalty is paid monthly by direct bank deposit.

The paperback I produced is extremely high quality by self-publishing standards. It looks no different from a "real book" available in a bookstore.

I grew up in Singapore in the 1980's and even as a teenager wrote many novels which I couldn't get published locally. Even today, Singapore writers find it hard to publish their work because of the small number of publishers.

If you have many completed manuscripts sitting around and do not want to wait years for Random House or some agent to call, try POD self-publishing. It is the fastest way to get a nicely packaged product into the hands of your eager friends and family.

If nothing else, the wider readership you attain will help your writing through invaluable reader feedback. Good luck and do try it!

Wena Poon is a Singaporean writer living in San Francisco, California. Her fiction and poetry has been anthologized by Penguin, Silverfish New Writing, Landmark Books, and other publishers in Asia and Australia. She is writing and self-publishing a sequel to Biophilia, her first POD book.


  1. Puva Arumugam9:30 PM

    Thanks for sharing your experience. I am in the same shoes of having ready manuscripts of the plays that I have written and staged in both Singapore and Australia. Your article has given me a ray of hope.

    Dr Puva Arumugam
    Deputy Artistic Director
    Ravindran Drama Group,

    Avant Theatre & Language

  2. Thanks for the info about Amazon's BookSurge! I've been using Lulu for a couple of years, and I, too, am really pleased with the quality of their printing and the amount of control that they offer independent publishers. With all the options in print-on-demand today, there's really no reason any writer should go unpublished, if they don't want to!

  3. tunku halim9:56 AM

    Thanks great. I've heard the Booksurge is doing excellent stuff. Keep us posted on how it goes. Hopefully an international publisher will pick your book up.

  4. I forgot to add - with your POD book, you can then exhibit it at book fairs. I did this in San Francisco on my own by co-purchasing a stall with a friend at the annual Alternative Press Expo. Again, the investment was modest, but we had a lot of fun. We also distributed bumper stickers with slogans from the book.