Publishing: Print, Digital and POD

Publishing: Print, Digital and POD , guest post by Sam Smith #Publishing
I was an almost author for 23 years. That was from my early twenties: I'm 68 now. I say 'almost author' because in among the rejections in those 23 years at least once every couple of years I'd have an agent or a publisher considering taking on my work. After a while I got to see that these were people just starting up as publishers and with no real business aptitude or they were old publishers with ossified lists and were desperately looking for a title to stop themselves going bust.
My novels were changed, even proofed a couple of times, covers were considered, before belly and up arrived. Then in the mid-eighties another new publisher - my book was to be their one fiction title - took me on. Numerous editorial meetings followed, a novelist MP was to be one of their backers, the MS was hawked around the UK Parliament... October 1987 promptly came along with the stock crash. Their real backer, not the MP novelist, lost all his venture capital.
I was by this time in my late forties with not a novel, not a word in print. I decided to switch to poetry, solely to have some words of mine on a page in black and white. Within a couple of years I had a collection, 'To Be Like John Clare', had poems shortlisted for prizes and even got to read on national radio. 
Seeing how the small presses worked (desk-top publishing then) I set up my own, Original Plus, and started my own poetry magazine, The Journal of Contemporary Anglo-Scandinavian Poetry.
The technology is important here. Because although I like to think that it may have been my budding reputation as a poet (Sam Smith who he?) it was the arrival of online publishing that finally saw the publication of one of my novels, Sister Blister, by one of the first online publishers, Online Originals. Sister Blister even got put in for the Booker, and a hardback POD followed. As did publication by other POD presses and short run publishers.
The fuddy-duddies were finished, the future had arrived. I was having paperbacks published by Salzburg, Jacobyte in Australia, BeWrite in France, dpdotcom on the Isle of Man, and elsewhere in the UK - Bluechrome/boho, Kite, Odyssey, erbacce-press, Indigo Dreams, Skrev, Turner Maxwell... I even got taken on as poetry and fiction editor by three of the publishers. And then the POD bubble burst.
Hosting a POD platform costs, and unfortunately POD sales rarely meet those costs. The switch to digital by many readers also hit the paperback market. That saw the end of my employers and has resulted in my very latest publisher, Safkhet (Germany), offering publication of my novel Trees in digital formats first, POD if digital sales justify the cost. From digital back to digital I feel publishing has completed yet another circle.
Now with the plethora of self-published novels querying both digital and POD markets it's difficult to see where publishing is going next. The one certainty is, although expectations of fame and fortune may be modified, I for one will carry on putting pen to paper, fingers to keyboard.

Sam Smith. Editor of The Journal (once 'of Contemporary Anglo-Scandinavian Poetry'), publisher of Original Plus books, I was born Blackpool 1946, now living in Maryport, Cumbria. A freelance writer, now pensioner, my last casual job was as an amusement arcade cashier. Before  that I was a psychiatric nurse, residential social worker, milkman, plumber, laboratory analyst, groundsman, sailor, computer operator, scaffolder, gardener, painter & decorator........ working at anything, in fact, which has paid the rent, enabled me to raise my three daughters and which hasn't got too much in the way of my writing. I now have several poetry collections and novels to my name.


I love to hear from you. So feel free to comment, but keep in mind the basics of blog etiquette — no spam, no profanity, no slander, etc.

Thanks for being an active part of the Writers and Authors community.