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I am looking to print the first novel I ever wrote for personal use—one physical copy to sit on my bookshelf as a token for completing the first one (there have been multiple after this one). This leaves me looking at print-on-demand options which I've been exploring and came to no conclusions.

And then a co-worker told me this: Some POD services won't publish explicit content. I hadn't thought of this when I first started looking, and now I'm concerned that my book will be rejected for printing after sending it off. My novel definitely doesn't fit in the erotica category, although it is a romance of sorts. There is one extended explicit scene that is relevant to a character's development, but it's not intended to be read as pornography or for sexual enjoyment; I think it is obvious that the characters are not entirely comfortable with each other.

I did some looking around and found that this might be flagged for explicit content and would not be published, at least on Barnes & Noble Press. They were the only site that dealt with explicit content within the FAQ. Other sites like Lulu or IngramSpark didn't seem as up front about it, in that they didn't say yes or no.

My question is: should I be worried about this? Like I said, the book is not being distributed and would just be one copy, for me. Does it make sense to go through a company like Lulu or are there better alternatives?

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  • You can check the POD's terms of service if they reserve a right to reject work based on content.
    – Matt
    Aug 5 '20 at 9:46
  • Yes, none of them were up-front about it except for B&N, who said that they reserve the right to reject the book and not allow you to resubmit.
    – dq_bhd
    Aug 5 '20 at 19:37
  • I think you have overlooked something. Lulu for example is pretty clear about it: in section 3. Content in the 3rd paragraph they clearly admit that they reserve the right to censor ("filter" or "alter") your work: lulu.com/terms-and-conditions. I haven't found anything similar for Ingramspark ingramspark.com/terms-of-use what could mean they won't do it. If you don't find anything in those terms of service/use/whatever you should be safe. Just read very carefully.
    – Matt
    Aug 5 '20 at 20:14
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As far as I'm aware those requirements are when you are placing a book for POD sale to the general public --meaning it goes into an online store.

If you are just doing POD for your own personal use, I can't imagine most services would do any censoring --I'd be surprised if they vet the content at all.

It's been a while since I did POD, but my recollection is that there are options to make your work public or private.

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