Saturday, January 22, 2011

Self Pulbishing with Options As Far As the Eye Can See

Do you want maximum options for how your book will look?  Do you want marketing tools out the wazoo?  Is endless possible customization your idea of a very good thing?  Then may be the perfect self publisher for you.

If you are looking to do something beyond a standard novel, Lulu is probably the best option as well.  They have templates set up and ready to go for picture books (like a photo album, but the photos are printed directly on the pages), cook books, yearbooks, and calenders.

But, if you are like most of the people reading this blog, you are publishing a novel.  And there's only one thing I'd recommend for in that case, your hardback copy.

Why?  Because there's almost nothing Lulu offers except a hard bound book that you can't get for less with

Here's the oranges to oranges comparison: with CreateSpace you decide on the Pro or Regular plan, the Pro plan costs $39.00 regular is free.  If you go pro your per page cost is .012 and regular is .02.  With you pick the kind of paper you want Publisher Grade (.015) or Standard (starting at .02 and going up from there).  Publisher grade gives you two size options, and you can't get an ISBN number.  Standard comes in pretty much any size you can imagine, and you can get an ISBN.  If you're actually planning on selling your book, you're already spending way more per book than you will with CreateSpace.

Why am I comparing Lulu to the Pro Plan prices instead of the Regular plan prices?  Because when you buy the Pro Plan with CreateSpace you also get the distribution tools you want if you actually intend to sell a physical book.  (I'm assuming this is where the term Pro Plan comes in.)  With Lulu, if you really want to sell a book you have to pick the paper option that costs more and then pay more for a distribution channel on top of it. 

So, for Sylvianna my CreateSpace author's copy costs $5.96.  My Lulu author's copy costs $14.00.  That was the moment I decided, unless I want a hardback copy of Sylvianna, Lulu was not going to get my publishing business.

Okay, so how do they do on ebooks? 

I'll admit I didn't get very far in this process.  I uploaded my file, and then they asked me what size I wanted my ebook to be.  I found myself thinking, "Pick a size for ebook?  Ummm what?"  See, here's the thing with ebooks, they come in whatever size the reader's screen happens to be.  So, my Kindle for PC screen is a lot bigger than my iPhone and my husband's Kindle is sort of in between.  So it doesn't make a lot of sense to pick a size for your ebook.  But, what do I know?  I'm new to this whole thing, so I open the list of sizes.  They're all standard book sizes.  I pick 5x8, and it resizes my document for 5x8 pages, and it looks bad.

Now maybe if I hadn't already used, and come out with a product that looks good on any sized screen, I wouldn't have been so picky about this.  But I did go through the Smashwords conversion process and got an electronic book that looks good everywhere.  So, seeing the 5x8 pages, and knowing I already had a distribution channel set up for basically any ebook format I could want, I gave up on Lulu's ebookery. 

Lulu offers marketing tools, they offer promotional stuff, they'll build your cover for you, they'll edit for you, they provide pretty much every service you could possibly want, the only thing is: it costs a lot of money.  CreateSpace offers almost all the same marketing, promotional, editing, and cover work, and they charge less.  Smashwords actually understands how to build an ebook so that anyone can read it.

So, unless you are looking for your hardbound masterpiece, it's time to go looking for a different publishing house.

Next up in the Self Publishing series: Outskirt Press.  I see their ads below my posts, so it's about time I go and see what they can offer!  Also in the not too distant future, a review of Whom God Would Destroy.


  1. I like your blog (spotted through Goodreads!). It all boils down to cost for me too. A few years ago I was in a short story anthology that was published through The editor was a bit of a freak and my fee (a measly $15) plus my contributor's copy never showed up (though he continued to spam me on Fbook, until I blocked him!), so decided to buy one myself. However, it was $22, plus postage to Japan (where I live), so I decided to forget it.

    I haven't looked into lulu for my own novel and went straight for createspace. Even at 518 pages sized 6 x 9, I can get contributors copies at $7 each. I really only wanted it for my family members who don't have Kindles (almost all of them) plus as possible review copies (and it isn't real to me unless its an actual paper book!). The lowest I can set the price and make a profit is about $12.50, which, while high is still not unreasonable, particularly if my ebook takes off. I can't see anyone wanting to pay over $20 for anything, though.

    Chris Ward
    Author of The Tube Riders

  2. I am writing a family history (probably 250 + pages) which includes quite a large number of will be mainly for distribution among my family in the UK (perhaps a couple of dozen copies) but could also appeal to the large number of possible descendants or at least namesakes, in the USA, Canada and Australia.. Cost to me initially is important but cost to family members buying it is not so sensitive. i may want to publish it as an ebook as well. What does anyone suggest in the light of your similar needs?

  3. Ok this is 1 year and a half or so later and I'm at the looking for a publisher outlet. I can't tell by this blog which you recommend, but because you didn't push one over the other I'm more inclined to believe your observations. I have just a few questions based on your post. 1) Createspace is cheaper and give you the same service for service options? 2) Smashwords (almost typed smashmouth) is best for e-book format. Can you do that if you've published through Createspace? 3) Have you published lately? just curious