It's good to note here that this book was produced under the banner of Flutter Press whose website insists they are not a vanity press but that they use Print-On-Demand technology, in their case, they print through Lulu. This puts them in between a small press and a self-publishing co-op. They choose authors to help through the process of POD and give them a logo to print under. In their mind, they see themselves as a small press
But whether you provide POD services or publish yourself, it's imperative that you appear professional...especially if you're using POD. The fact that the press feels the need to defend itself tells you there's a stigma out there about POD. You have to counter that with a perfect product.
There were some tell-tale signs of amateur POD with this book.
- Their press logo was on the copyright page but nowhere on the back cover.
- Emdash and endash appearances were inconsistent throughout. In the dedication, there's a plain hyphen where an endash should be used. In other quotations, you would find double dashes.
- There was no printed spine. You must have a printed spine to look professional. You can spot self-published books a mile away with their lack of a spine. I had to pad my book a bit to get the page count over 100 in order to get a spine. When books are stacked vertically, you need to be able to be read their titles clearly on the spine. It's possible Lulu charges by the page and this might be the issue. CreateSpace doesn't deter you from adding pages.
- This book cover is beautiful but blurry, especially the author's name and title, the most important parts, another self-published giveaway. Was it an issue of resizing a graphic? The graphic on the cover is clear.
- Contents should start on an even page, not on the backside of the dedication page.
- The first poem or chapter should start on an even page.
- I found spacing issues between words in about 6 places throughout the book, not big enough spaces to look intentional, although there were what looked like the same number of intentional spacings.
- Certain words should have been spelled out like the word inches for ".
- I found a capital word in mid-sentences, an initial caps word in only one line of the poem.
- The page numbers shouldn't appear copyright page and table-of-contents pages.
- The book needs some blank pages for breathing room.
- There are punctuation inconsistencies with clauses and inconsistencies in periods in the acknowledgement list.
If your publisher isn’t going to stringently proof your book, you need to pay for someone do it. Your reputation is the only one that counts.
All these rules of publishing should be learned even if you work with this kind of small, POD press such as this. Maybe in this case this author didn’t want to risk the self-publishing stigma, but the result is a book that looks self-published.
There’s a small press in Santa Fe that charges you to publish your work, in the line of about $3,000. Amazingly, they offer no services with that. Their editor told me himself, "Poets hate to be edited." Meanwhile their books are full of typos and grammatical errors. I know a prominent local academic who published with this press and received a bad cover and a book full of layout errors. It's embarrassing and it shouldn’t happen.
CreateSpace is free but if you truly need help navigating publication or you don’t like Amazon, there are other legitimate options. The Fine Print of Self-Publishing by Mark Levine evaluates all POD publishers, including Lulu.
Or read Self-Printed, The Sane Person's Guide to Self-Publishing by Catherine Ryan Howard to learn about publishing yourself. You research to buy a car, research your POD publisher. Lulu tends to be expensive and their price-points are high. Thankfully the price point for this book is $7 for 33 actual pages of poetry which is actually okay.
You need to care about your price point, the quality, and the professional presentation of your book. And if you are running a POD press, make sure you know what you're doing.
Control your own book and you can control many problems. The good news for this book is that all these issues are fixable with POD. To learn more: http://www.bigbangpoetry.com/2012/07/self-publishing-poetry-first-things-first.html