Case Study: My Lifelong Fight Against Disease

My Lifelong Fight Against Disease

Along with the rest of the world, the publishing industry has made some necessary adjustments—some permanent, some temporary—due to the pandemic. One of the most challenging of which has been navigating the global paper shortage and supply chain issues, which have caused significant printer delays. The publishing process of Dr. William Haseltine’s book,
My Lifelong Fight Against Disease: From Polio and AIDS to COVID-19 was directly impacted by the pandemic itself and these supply chain issues. Dr. Haseltine, a scientific researcher who has analyzed findings and provided guidance on navigating the COVID-19 pandemic, was well placed to publish this book in 2020. Given the timeliness of the subject matter, releasing the book as soon as possible was a priority. 

Typically, once files are finalized, the book is uploaded to the printer. From there, the book is proofed, printed, cut, bound, packed, and shipped, eventually landing in the warehouse on a date dubbed the “book-in-hand” date. Retailers typically require a buffer time between the book-in-hand date and retail release date in order to receive, process, and prepare stock for on-sale. 

The printing process took approximately seven weeks prior to the pandemic, and retailers required about two months of buffer time. These days, the turnaround times are significantly longer: the printing process may take upwards of fourteen weeks with a required buffer time of three months. All told, retail release dates are being set six months from the printer upload date. Needless to say, pandemic timing is not in the authors’ favor. 

  • Without a creative publishing solution, Dr. Haseltine’s release date would have been delayed into 2021. It’s for this reason that we decided to pursue a Print-On-Demand (POD) edition to bridge the gap between the book-in-hand date and the retail release date of the hardcover title. We: 
– Uploaded the files for the hardcover book to the printer
– Received the printer proofs and finalized the files
– Created a POD edition of the files while the hardcover was printing
– Published the POD edition in October 2020 prior to receiving hardcover books
– Listed the hardcover edition for preorder 
– Published the hardcover edition in February 2021 

  • While the POD approach worked well in this scenario, we don’t recommend pursuing a POD exclusively for a number of reasons:
  • Quality. PODs are of lower quality than premium hardcover editions, and can be less enticing for readers.
    Distribution. POD files are uploaded directly to and distributed exclusively through Amazon, which limits opportunities for direct-to-consumer and selling at in-person events. 
    Royalties. Amazon takes both printing costs and steep royalties off of each POD edition sold.

  • Despite these considerations, employing a POD edition is a strategic avenue in certain scenarios, particularly to:
  • – Build buzz for a soon-to-be released hardcover.
    – Hit an earlier release date, particularly if a particular month, date, or event is relevant to the content of the book (e.g., late October or early November for a book about campaigns).  

While a POD situation is not standard, the rest of the publication process went as expected. Dr. Haseltine’s rollout is a lesson in how adapting during extenuating circumstances—both as a publisher and an author—can impact the ultimate success of a book. 


My Lifelong Fight Against Disease, a memoir of an incredible life that shows how scientific researchers have had a huge impact on our medical systems over the past fifty years, can be purchased here


Naren Aryal is the co-founder and publisher of Mascot Books and Amplify Publishing. After starting his career as a Washington lawyer, Naren launched Mascot Books in 2003 with the publication of his first book. As an author himself (How to Sell a Crapload of Books: 10 Secrets of a Killer Author Marketing Platform), Naren appreciates the opportunities and challenges facing storytellers. As a publisher, he’s well-versed in the market factors that determine a project’s ultimate level of success. Naren’s more than fifteen years of publishing experience have made him an expert in the editorial, production, distribution, and marketing arenas. He’s passionate about staying up-to-date on industry technology and trends and is a respected commentator on anything publishing-related.

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