View Full Version : Distributer for POD books?

nancy sv
05-19-2008, 04:43 AM
I am considering self-publishing a book, but am wondering how they would get distributed. My situation is kind of unique so I can't do it at all.

My family and I will be taking off in a few weeks to ride our bikes from Alaska to Argentina so obviously, we can't be shipping books out. If I were to get everything set up and publicize the book on our website - then what?

Let's say that one of our readers wants to buy a copy of the book - how does that work? Who do they order it from? who ships it out?

Thanks for your help!

05-19-2008, 05:35 AM
Have you read all the threads in this forum on Lulu? Have you read all the posts by ResearchGuy? (there's lots of overlap between these two) I have the impression that Lulu does everything you want for fulfullment of orders. They might even do autodeposit of your earnings into a checking account...

There may be other good options. Maybe you should PM ResearchGuy and ask him to post in this thread, as well as read your "When to self-publish?" thread in Roundtable.

nancy sv
05-19-2008, 06:56 AM
Thanks Ben! I did read through a lot of threads, but I couldn't figure out who handles the orders. Maybe I"m not searching for the right words, but all I got when I searched was tips for marketing the book - not actually sending it out when someone orders it. What's that called, anyway?

I have read a bunch of stuff from ResearchGuy - sounds like he knows a lot. I"ll pm him and see what he says. thanks for the suggestion!

05-19-2008, 07:13 AM
It depends if you want to go through Lulu, or set up your own micropress through LSI.

With Lulu, if you just want to set up the project as a marketplace book (ie, no ISBN, no Amazon, just available on the Lulu site), that would take about 10 minutes. People can then order straight from you Lulu storefront without you having to handle any of the books (though buying a proofing copy is something you should really, really do).

Revenue is then paid either monthly (via PayPal), or quarterly, by paper cheque.

The micropress takes longer to set up (I'm actually in the process of setting up one for Wibbly at the moment), and there's things like getting your own set of ISBNs, paying upfront fees, annual catalogue listing and having to know everything you're doing. They don't have the same sort of support as Lulu does.

For the moment, your best option is probably Lulu - easiest to set up, and it can run without your help while you're away. :)

nancy sv
05-19-2008, 07:15 AM
Thanks Stormhawk! I"ll spend a couple hours reading through the Lulu site and see what I want to do.

05-19-2008, 08:00 PM
Personally, I would recommend Lightning Source as it offers better distribution and prices then Lulu. Sure, you have to buy a block of ISBNs and pretend you are a "publisher", but you can be a publisher of only your book so that is not hard. The upfront costs are more, but with LSI you get wholesaled through Ingram, have the ability to set discount and price, as well as returnability status - all things crucial for getting your book into bookstores or other markets. They also have drop-shipping down, so you don't have to have any inventory; you could do everything from your bike.

It really comes down to how involved/committed you want to be. Also, if you only want to sell via Amazon, I would go with CreateSpace since Amazon keeps threatening to shut Lulu out.

nancy sv
05-19-2008, 09:37 PM
Hmmm.... I really wish there was just way to go about doing this - do this or shut up!! I don't want to deal with options right now... I'll check out Lightning source too - thanks!

nancy sv
05-19-2008, 11:09 PM
If I were to go through Lulu for now and get everything set up - could I switch to Lightning Source later? I'm thinking that, for now, Lulu will probably be just fine. Once we get back from our trip and start giving talks and such it would be nice to buy a bunch of books to sell. but for now - we really can't have anything to do with it all - we'll get it set up and then take off.

05-20-2008, 01:00 AM
Yes, you can switch over later with no problem. :)

nancy sv
05-20-2008, 05:05 AM
Now to decide if I want to go this route...

05-20-2008, 05:15 AM
Lulu is a service that prints with Lightning Source. Lulu books cannot be stocked in stores as they are not returnable. Using lightning Source requires more skills on yout part but making the book bookstore stoackable is at least a possibility. I would suggest taking your time to research more before leaping into anything. If you give up on getting in store and just want easy access to online stores then there is a range of options even for that.

nancy sv
05-20-2008, 06:36 AM
Gosh - way too much to think about!!

05-20-2008, 08:26 AM
. . .
For the moment, your best option is probably Lulu - easiest to set up, and it can run without your help while you're away. :)
I'd agree that Lulu is a very good option. It is publishing on training wheels. That is not a knock -- I am making a LOT of use of it. For example, it helped to expedite an extremely time-sensitive book, the first printing of which, 300 copies, arrived today.

However: there IS a learning curve. More than one, in fact. Simply designing a good looking book is not a simple task. Further, there are several steps if you (that is the generic you) want ISBN/distribution package, and they will probably take at least a few weeks AFTER the book is fully designed, edited, and proofed. But if you want to hold off on ISBN/distribution package (and I recommend holding off until you can do it right), then you can be up and running literally in hours, with the book for sale from your Lulu storefront.

I've posted at length and repeatedly about Lulu, so it is best not to repeat all that here.


05-20-2008, 08:31 AM
. . . Amazon keeps threatening to shut Lulu out.
Hmmmm. Not what I heard from my contact at Lulu (a manager). I'm told that Lulu and Amazon have an amicable relationship.

In any event, though, profit margins are much better via Lulu storefront.


05-20-2008, 09:16 AM
Yeah, we (ya, I work for Lulu), put out a release, we are still on good terms with Amazon, and there's nothing being said that would mean our distributed books will be taken down from Amazon.

Lulu is a service that prints with Lightning Source.
Only the books with distribution packages.

05-21-2008, 05:47 AM
While Lulu is great for what it is, it's still a do it yourself operation. Unless you're experienced in layout and design and creating real print ready pdfs (not the junk Word puts out), then you're probably not going to be satisfied with using Lulu. There are several companies that can do a good design job and handle distribution and royalties for you. It seems like that will be especially important while you're on the road with limited access.

05-21-2008, 06:11 AM
. . . the junk Word puts out . .
If the designer knows what he or she is doing, Word can produce entirely decent -- and even attractive -- book interiors. The problem is that few people understand how to use Word's features (styles, line spacing, margins, section breaks, headers and footers, cross-references, tables . . .), nor the norms of book layout. It is not going to work for complex layouts (textbooks, art books, technical manuals, and so on), but for a typical text interior (a novel or a nonfiction narrative, for example, the sort of thing someone might actually want to use Lulu for), it can be quite effective.


P.S. You can create a .pdf from any program that allows that, and upload that file. Lulu does not care as long as the .pdf has the fonts embedded and meets other requirements.

05-21-2008, 06:18 AM
But Lulu is not irrelevant to the fact that most people have no clue how to lay out a book. As a consequence most Lulu books look like someone did them in Word. Word has lots of nifty features, but it's a word processor, not a layout program. A minor example, Word justifies by line, not by paragraph.
My point was that there are plenty of places you can get decent design and distribution without having to climb the learning curve needed to do a good job with Indesign or even a passable one with Word.

05-21-2008, 06:21 AM
. . .there are plenty of places you can get decent design and distribution without having to climb the learning curve needed to do a good job with Indesign or even a passable one with Word.
For example?


05-21-2008, 06:24 AM
. . .Word justifies by line, not by paragraph. . . .
You have lost me there. Care to elaborate?


05-21-2008, 06:35 AM
When Word is instructed to fully justify a paragraph, it essentially decides how much space each individual line needs to fill the gap from margin to margin. Smarter programs like Indesign go through an interative process that finds a best fit for the entire paragraph.
But I was just citing an example. Word is also terrible at tracking - the spacing between proportional letters. Not to mention that it's so hard to find that it's almost a hidden feature. How about bolding and italics? Word doesn't use a separate font set, it just makes that word fatter, darker and slantier. <-- if indeed that's a word.
And don't get me started on section breaks and the ravages they inflict on headers and footers, especially page numbering.

I actually think that Word is the best of the bunch as a wp, it's just not designed to do layout.

05-21-2008, 06:37 AM
Oh, forgot to answer your first q. Wingspan Press, Aventine (if your writing can pass the Christian muster), Virtual Bookworm.

05-21-2008, 06:40 PM
Oh, forgot to answer your first q. Wingspan Press, Aventine (if your writing can pass the Christian muster), Virtual Bookworm.
Thanks. A friend of mine used Aventine for her first book, and was pleased. That one led to commercial publication of following books.

But of course one pays hefty fees up front for their services.


05-21-2008, 06:48 PM
. . .
And don't get me started on section breaks and the ravages they inflict on headers and footers, especially page numbering. . . .
Really? Once I learned how to use section breaks and related features, I have had no difficulty at all.

The points you raise about spacing may be important to some. I know that book designer Pete Masterson (Book Design and Production) makes a point of the issue. But it seems to be of little practical importance in setting up ordinary text in a quite readable way, where one needs a clean, readable look, not a perfect one. I see this as a case of not letting the perfect be the enemy of the good. Pete warns against using Word to design a book, but helpfully goes on in that chapter to explain how to use it for the purpose.

I am sure that professional book designers would pick nits over my layouts (all done in Word), but authors and readers seem satisfied.


05-22-2008, 01:16 AM
. . .How about bolding and italics? Word doesn't use a separate font set, it just makes that word fatter, darker and slantier.. . .
Ok, you are pulling my leg.


P.S. For those who did not get the joke, those "fatter, darker, and slantier" forms of the characters ARE from different font sets, with names like Arial,Bold and TimesNewRoman,Italic. Those sets have to be embedded in the pdf, and of course Acrobat shows a list of Document Fonts in the file (Files, Document properties, Fonts).

05-28-2008, 09:13 AM
Been away a while, so I just got your latest defense-of-the-mighty-Word reposte. If you have the bold, italic font sets on your computer, yes Word will use them. If you don't, and hit the bold button, Word just goes merrily along, making the word FATTER and DARKER, without so much as bothering to mention that you're trying to use a font that doesn't exist. Just when you're fooled into thinking that Word is there with you, you try exporting it to a real layout program and discover that where professionalism is concerned, Word is amateur crap. That you have a merry time with it may have more to do with your stated lack of knowledge of layout software than with Word's utility.

I will now yield the floor so that you can, as you apparently do in every thread, stay at it until other people get tired and go away, leaving you the last Word...pahdumching.

05-28-2008, 07:07 PM
. . .making the word FATTER and DARKER. . . .
The joke is wearing thin. (Or should that be THINNER and LIGHTER?)


06-02-2008, 05:00 AM
You still here? I see that you don't understand how font files work. Try it. Identify a font for which you have only the regular font file on your computer, then hit the bold key. See what happened? Now import that file into Indesign or Quark or half a dozen others and they will flag that word and ask you what you want to do in lieu of the font you don't actually have.
Best if you do your research before holding yourself out as an expert on something, research guy.

06-02-2008, 05:32 PM
Discoantfarm, I suggest reading through our guidelines on respecting your fellow writer (http://absolutewrite.com/forums/showthread.php?t=66315). Both you and Researchguy have some excellent insights and there's no need for the disrespect, especially towards one of our most helpful members.

06-02-2008, 07:48 PM
This discussion has ceased to be useful, so I'm locking the thread.

- Victoria