EMS Books – Print on Demand

Every six months I get a report with the sales figures from my two books. In the last few years I have noticed a small but growing uptrend in sales. If the next report continues this trend I will be discuss with my agent the possibility of doing a third book. I actually already have some of the book written, but what I need is her advice to go ahead and make a formal proposal to the publisher. Book publishing, as I have learned, is largely about the dollar. Will they make money off the book? It has little to do with the quality of the writing or the story(beyond the fact that everything else being equal, a better written book is better than a poorly written book.) They are a business and they need to show a return on the dollar. That’s probably how it should be. I wouldn’t run a business any other way.

In recent years the book publishing industry has undergone numerous changes. The big publishers are publishing fewer books. Their efforts are largely aimed toward the blockbuster – the million dollar seller Oprah book. They have been neglecting the mid-list book – the book that sells a small but steady amount. In addition, when it comes to paperback books, the distribution system has fallen apart. In the old days every drug store and supermarket had racks of paperback books of great variety. Nowadays, it’s all bestsellers.

While I have a contract with my publisher that gives them the right of first refusal of my next book, I don’t want to send them a proposal if my agent thinks they won’t accept it. If the sales figures go up, they may be interested. Hopefully, they may see the possibility of a small profit. They have two of my books already. Do they really need a third? And will a third just take shelf space away from the first two? Who really knows? Is the timing right? Maybe the increased interest in paramedics and emergency medicine in recent years will convince them there is an opportunity for profit. I hope so.

While the bad news for writers has been that the major publishers have been publishing fewer books, the good news is the new phenomena of (POD)Print on Demand publishing has filled the void for small books. Now a person can publish their own professional looking book quite reasonably, and it can be sold on the internet through Amazon and other outlets.

Publishers include iuniverse, xlibris, authorhouse, booksurge and LULU. They are many others. Prices range from free to $500 or more dollars depending on the services provided.

I have recently read two self-published EMS books that I enjoyed.

In the Arms of Stranger by Dale Bingham and Paramedic: Buff to Burnt by George Steffenson. While both volumes are slim, I was entertained and at times moved by their stories. Everybody who has worked any length of time in this field has stories to tell, and just getting them down on paper, reasonable edited, and then put in a form that you can share them with others is an admirable feat. I hope that more EMS people will avail themselves of the opportunities offered by POD and make their contribution to the growing literature of EMS.


I have taken my latest draft of my novel Diamond in the Rough down from the web site and am just leaving the first nine chapters up while I rewrite the book. I recently had it printed up double sided and spiral bound so I could read it like it was it book. Whenever I do this, I am very depressed after reading it because I see everything that is wrong with it. My depression then passes as I start to recognize what is good about it, and how to fix it to make it better. I have been vicious with my cutting, and hope the book will soon be leaner, tighter, and better. I believe the chance of getting this novel published by a major publisher is pretty slim, so that when I feel I am done with it, I may well go the POD route. It gives you more hope when writing, knowing that your work won’t end up in a dusty drawer.

The following link has many excellent links that provide interesting information about POD publishing:

More info on POD: Pros and Cons

1 Comment

  • sydneybuddha says:

    you keep writing the books, i’ll keep reading them. as i paramedic student, i don’t care what a publisher thinks. print on demand if you want. just keep in mind that i don’t make enough to pay $500 per book.

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