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A Print-on-Demand to Print-on-Paper Success Story

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I published my first book with a large publishing house, and I liked having the support of a big company with sales reps in the stores. But I didn’t like having to wait on the publisher’s project list for 12-18 months, and I also didn’t like giving them the power to take my book out-of-print when they felt its shelf life was over.

So I decided to self-publish Remembering Wholeness: A Personal Handbook for Thriving in the 21st Century. I made this decisioneven though I was already busy. I also was not keen on starting a company and spending thousands of dollars, which was the option I thought I had.

Then a colleague called to ask me if I had heard of iUniverse.com and Print on Demand (POD). When I hung up the phone, I could not ignore a voice that was saying to me, “That phone call was really for you. Go look iUniverse up on the Internet right now.” I did and I was amazed that a small investment could make my book available to the public.


Phase 1: On Demand

Of course I knew that making it available wasn’t enough. It was my job to create the demand. I was dealing with POD and without demand there would be no books in print!

I began by purchasing 400 copies myself. My plan was to sell them and give them to people so readers would start talking about the book. It worked! When I sold those books to clients in my alternative therapy practice, they bought more for friends and family. Copies I placed in chiropractors’ offices (with information inside the front jacket about purchasing the book) also sold and generated additional sales.

Besides getting those 400 books out into readers’ hands, I tried to generate demand in several other ways.

  • I called or visited all the B. Dalton and Barnes & Noble stores in my state. I showed them or sent them a book and offered to do a free lecture/signing at each store. All but one scheduled me. These events took place in November, December, and January–all months that people are in the stores for holiday shopping.
  • I offered to speak at writers’ groups to share my experience with POD publishing.
  • I hired a reasonably priced graphic artist to design and build a Web site for me.
  • I contacted chat groups that were interested in my topic and was invited to be a guest in their chat rooms.
  • In all my promotional materials, I said my book could be ordered in any store nationwide and online. I also educated potential buyers so they would understand that this book was to be purchased and then printed and shipped. Because word-of-mouth sales were driving it, that didn’t seem to discourage anyone from purchasing.

Within the year, Remembering Wholeness developed a reputation as really popular because it was so hard to find in bookstores. When iUniverse saw that sales in the first year were more than 6,000 copies, they promoted it to buyers at Barnes & Noble, who purchased it for their stores nationwide.


Phase 2: Print

I knew then that it was time to take the book out nationally and to consider hiring a publicist. Knowing that retailers are hesitant about stocking nonreturnable POD books, I decided to go to print-on-paper and order 10,000 copies so bookstores would support the book.

But I still didn’t want to create my own publishing company. Luckily, the excellent publicist I found (Phenix & Phenix Literary Publicists in Austin, Texas; www.bookpros.com) directed me to Elton-Wolf Publishing. They offered a program called “Custom Publishing” that leaves the copyright (although not the ISBN) in the author’s hands and charges for publishing services. I paid them their money and 10,000 books came to life.

This version of the book has 10 new chapters, which added 100 extra pages, and a new ISBN. Since it’s a “Newly Expanded 2002 Edition,” I now not only have readers buying the book for the first time, I also have readers who bought the first edition buying the second.

This second phase of my book’s life is going very smoothly. Since the first edition of Remembering Wholeness was stocked in Barnes & Noble stores nationwide, I can call any Community Relations Manager in any bookstore and tell them about my book’s new availability and have events in their stores. My publicist is booking radio, television, and print interviews for me. I’ve had coverage in Redbook magazine and appeared on numerous radio and television shows; I’m now looking forward to doing more during the six-month campaign I’ve planned.

In the first four weeks, I have sold 500 copies at speaking engagements and off my Web site. Also, I have just produced the book on a six-CD set and sold more than 200 of those sets within three weeks.

Going POD first and print-on-paper second has worked for me. It can work for you if you have a professionally edited book with a great cover and a great Web site. Most important, always remember that demand is the key to success.

As a successful author, speaker, and professional therapist, Carol Tuttle has assisted thousands of people in creating the lives they want. Please visit her Web site at


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