So you’ve written the next great New Zealand novel, only trouble is no one wants to publish it. You’ve sent it to a literary agent and they either don’t want it or they haven’t been able to get a publisher interested. You’ve gone straight to the horse’s mouth and sent it direct to publishers yourself, but still no joy.

So what are you going to do with that masterpiece that’s now sitting on your computer gathering e-dust? You put in too much work to just abandon it, you sweated blood over it night after night while the kids were asleep….

Don’t Give Up – There’s Hope!

Take hope! It may not be the million dollar publishing deal you dreamed of, but there is a way to publish your book and make it available for sale. You can even get it listed on! It’s called “print on demand” (POD) and there are a number of websites that offer the service.

Print on Demand – an Alternative Way to Publish

With print on demand you upload your book to a website and, rather than a huge batch of copies being printed up front as they are by traditional publishers, copies are only printed when someone buys the book – usually via the website or through services such as

Interested? What have you got to lose? On some POD websites it won’t cost you a penny to publish your book. Your precious work will be available to buyers around the world and you’ll collect up to 80% of the creator revenue your book earns (way better than the standard 10% traditional publishing royalty!).

Riding the Print on Demand Wave

The print on demand world has exploded with the publication of everything from fiction to memoirs through to photobooks, calendars and pocketbooks of verse.

One of the leading print on demand websites is and if you decide to use their service the outline below, though not exhaustive, will give you a good idea of the steps involved in publishing your book with them.

Publishing Your Book

First, you’ll need to visit and create an account – a simple process that’s free and takes less than a minute.

Next you need to make sure your manuscript is in an acceptable condition to be published, so read Lulu’s Mandatory Requirements for Distribution here.

Got your manuscript ship shape? Click the Publish tab at the top of the Lulu home page, select Books and then click any of the Start Publishing buttons on that page and follow the steps below.

  1. Choose whether you want your book in hardback or paperback.
  2. Enter a title and an author name.
  3. Choose the level of availability you want for your book. You can restrict it to yourself, have it available only through Lulu’s own marketplace, or sell your book through online stores like Of course, this last option is probably the one you want. If you select this option you’ll need an ISBN number, but don’t panic, Lulu will provide one a little later in the process.
  4. Click Save and Continue. One of the great things about this process is that you can save your work and come back to continue the publishing process later. There are great Help tips too, accessible via the “View instructions and info about this step” link at the top right of every page.
  5. Select the grade of paper you want to use in your book, the size you want your book to be, the type of binding and whether you want colour or black and white printing in the book’s interior (this doesn’t affect the cover).
  6. Click Save and Continue
  7. Now you need to deal with the ISBN number. There are two options – you can use an ISBN number that you already own or get one free from As most readers won’t have an ISBN number, getting one from Lulu is the easiest way to proceed, so select this option and click Save and Continue.
  8. You’ll have the option to download your new barcode now. Do so, read the information presented on screen and click Save and Continue.
  9. It’s time to upload your manuscript file! Lulu prefers PDF files, but will also accept .doc, .rtf, .ps, .wps and a number of image file formats. Note: the page size in your manuscript file must correspond with the size of the book you’ve chosen. The page dimensions are listed on the upload page. An easy way to make sure your pages are the right size is to download a template (the link is on the upload page) and simply copy and paste your text into it. Browse to your file and upload it.
  10. Click the Make Print-Ready File button.
  11. When the print-ready file has been created click Save and Continue.
  12. You’ll now be presented with the Lulu Cover Wizard. This gives you a whole range of easy-to-use tools that make creating the cover of your book a breeze – you can even upload your own photos. Alternatively you can design and upload your own cover.
  13. When you’re happy with your cover click Preview and Make Print-Ready Cover.
  14. Once you have accepted your cover you’ll enter the Description page. Here you enter category, keyword and description information that will help buyers find your book on the net.
  15. Proceed to the next page and set the price you want to charge for your book – you’ll see how much you’ll actually make from each copy alongside this price. You can also make your book available in download form here too.
  16. After setting the price you’ll get a chance to review your entire project and make any changes.
  17. Now all you need to do is hit Publish (a.k.a. Save and Finish).

Well, not quite. After publication you need to select a distribution option in order to list your book in bibliographic databases and to make it available through Amazon. Lulu’s Extended Reach distribution option is free.

Print on Demand can be Worth the Effort

Though preparing your manuscript so that it complies with Lulu’s standards can take a bit of time, it’s a small price to pay for getting your book out into the world. So, if you’re fuming over your latest rejection letter and you’ve got a few hours to spare, maybe it’s time to consider publishing through print on demand.

How to Publish Your Own Book Using Print on Demand, 3.3 out of 5 based on 3 ratings

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