Self-Publishing with Print-on-Demand

Badge for Insecure Writer's Support Group

It’s the 1st Wednesday of the month again. That’s when I take part in Alex J. Cavanaugh’s Insecure Writer’s Support Group. I encourage you to check out their website and even sign up for the IWSG Newsletter. Today I’m going to explore self-publishing with print-on-demand, as I answer the #IWSG question for September –

What publishing path are you considering/did you take, and why?

When I first decided to write my book, Facing Cancer as a Friend, I felt as though I was looking at a timer, counting down the amount of time I had to get a platform set up and some words on the page. It was a midlife realignment of my goals. I had always wanted to be a writer, but I let life get in the way and stopped writing for a long time.


Print-on-Demand Services changed all that

Self-publishing prior to print-on-demand was often called vanity publishing, and with good reason. Prior to this evolution in the publishing industry, writers would pay publishers to print a certain number of books. Most often the author was stuck with hundreds of unsold copies by the end of their lifetime.  It was an unappealing notion. Print-on-demand potentially meant that the only thing you risked by self-publishing with them, was your time and your reputation. And by 2015 when I began writing again, print-on-demand was in full swing, thanks in great part to and its affiliated companies such as Createspace.

There are drawbacks

Print-on-Demand has made self-publishing far more approachable to writers across the spectrum of the business. There are also some drawbacks to self-publishing, even with the benefit of print-on-demand and e-book publishing. This is especially true for new writers.


  • Self-publishers who do everything themselves, often lack the professional, experienced support of editors. It’s all too common to find books that are “obviously self-published.” A multitude of mistakes and formatting errors that never would have made it past an experienced editor’s eyes fill some of these books from start to finish. It’s understandable. New self-published authors have to learn the skills of an entire team of people who would normally prepare a book for publication. My first book was no different. That’s why this year I am revising it completely to fix errors I didn’t realize I had made.


  • Self-publishers have to market their book on their own. Most writers aren’t born marketers. They are writers. With the self-publishing model, writers must find time to write, edit, publish, and market their book—and then do it again. Part of marketing is having a platform. This often includes blogging and maintaining a website and a social media presence, along with your other jobs. It’s not the most efficient way to do things.


  • Self-published writers are the ugly stepsister of the writing business. People often look down of them because of a few bad apples that have lowered the bar, in terms of quality.

But there’s good news

Even professional writers such as Stephen King have dipped their toe into the self-publishing world. You get a far greater percentage of the royalties, and once you are established in the business with a solid platform and a good reputation, online bookstores like and Barnes & Noble make marketing and selling your print-on-demand and e-books far easier.

I’m also encouraged whenever I find a self-published author who is doing it right. They are improving the quality of the print-on-demand and e-book markets. It can be incredibly difficult to break into the traditional publishing model. It’s fun to see writers also become entrepreneurs. Often they are using professional services for editing and cover creation, creating jobs and transforming the industry.

What are YOUR thoughts?

I’d love to hear in the comment section, below. I appreciate my readers as well as the writing community. To show that appreciation, I use Comment Luv. Just leave a comment below and your latest post will get a link next to it. Thank you!

About Heather Erickson

I am an author, writer, and speaker and homeschooling mom of 3. Since doctors diagnosed my husband, Dan with stage IV lung cancer in 2012, I’ve focused my writing and speaking on helping cancer patients and their families advocate for themselves and live life to the fullest, in spite of their illness. My goal is to help people face cancer with grace. My books are available at

The Memory Maker’s Journal 

Facing Cancer as a Friend: How to Support Someone Who Has Cancer

Facing Cancer as a Parent: Helping Your Children Cope with Your Cancer

I also blog about living with cancer at Facing Cancer with Grace.

The Ericksons

Have any questions or comments? I would love to hear from you! By commenting, you agree to the terms of my privacy policy.

12 comments on “Self-Publishing with Print-on-Demand

It’s a learning curve, for sure. But yeah, there are plenty of self-published doing it right.

Hi Liz. There certainly are. I’ve made it a point to try to find great books by self-published writers. It’s so much fun! It also encourages me to work harder and improve my craft. Have a great week!

I haven’t tried print-on-demand yet but am considering it. I can do small runs through my local printer at an affordable cost so I’ve let that go. For my fiction, I’m still Kindle-only with an eye open to the options.

Hi Jacqui. The great thing is how many different options there are for publishing now. I’ve considered looking into my local printer to put together an Organized Cancer Patient book in the form of a 3-ring binder. It’s sort of a specialty item that Amazon wouldn’t be able to accommodate as a publisher. It seems like a lot of work, though.

I know many self-published authors who have rocked it and done very well. If you know what you’re doing and can market, it can work.

Hi Alex. Marketing is the thing I struggle with the most. I’m reserved in person and online. I really need to get an exciting alter-ego to do all of my blogging and marketing. I really admire great marketers. It’s a true talent. Have an awesome month!

I really think it boils down to genre, and what your audience is good with. For some niches, indie is the only way to go. For others, like picture books, it’s definitely not an awesome choice.

Hi Crystal. Genre can make a big difference. My husband writes Christian devotionals and has accumulated quite a following. His biggest marketer is his mom, who often calls asking for more books. Her friends purchase them and then later buy more to give away as gifts. Word of mouth has made him more successful than me and he doesn’t do any marketing. I sell most of my books after speaking engagements and a few each month on Amazon. Have a great month!

I’m a self-pubber and I enjoy it. I like the control that comes with it. Although, I have definitely made some hefty mistakes that traditional probably would have avoided if I had gone that way. I cringe, but try not to beat myself up and use it to learn something.

Hi Patricia. I always feel like if I learn from my mistakes then they aren’t wasted. I also enjoy having more control over the process (until it comes time to market). Have a great week!

Christina A Buhr

I’m getting ready to get married to A wonderful man. He’s been diagnosed eighth stage 4 lung cancer about a month ago. It hit home hard for both of us. But we are strong believers in God and pray day and night that he will heal him. He’s not doing any treatment cause its too far gone they informed us, so hospice it is. I’m going to read your book that way I can feel some comfort and not alone. Thank you for your story. God Bless you and you family.

Bless you, Christina. It is such a difficult road you and your fiance are traveling. He is blessed to have you by his side and I am sure you are blessed to have him. There is great healing in the hospice process. Even if the body isn’t healed, the spirit and the mind are. I will be praying for you both and your family. feel free to write me anytime. Bless you! [email protected]

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