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View Full Version : Do all PODs & Self-Publishers reek?



Ariel G
01-15-2010, 12:13 AM
n/a

veinglory
01-15-2010, 12:24 AM
Any large company has someone complaining about them--and some people are crazy or have totally unrealistic expectations. That said, Lulu and Createspace are largely transperant and will produce and distribute a serviceable trade paperback for anyone capable of uploading a print-ready file. I have read complaints about both and never found any plausible issues relating to the basic function of making the book and paying the royalities. Anything else is a case of caveat emptor.

valeriec80
01-15-2010, 01:32 AM
I'm happy with createspace. In my experience, they've delivered exactly what they promised. And they actually have phone customer service now.

Parametric
01-15-2010, 01:53 AM
Having obsessively followed the Bewares & Background Checks forum for years, if I were self-publishing, I'd go with Lulu or Createspace. I'm reasonably confident that neither of them would screw me over.

JFBookman
01-15-2010, 05:06 AM
Well, this is business. They are in it to make money. The appeals to writers are simply advertising and shouldn't be taken that seriously, since most of these companies make money from authors, not from selling your book.

Having said that, if you use Lulu or Createspace and just treat them like a printer who does distribution, you should get your money's worth. And if you want customer service, lower prices, online distribution, no hype and businesslike interactions, set yourself up as a publisher and work with Lightning Source.

ResearchGuy
01-15-2010, 09:55 PM
. . . POD or self-publisher out there . . .
No one can "self-publish" on the author's behalf. A self-publishing author IS the publisher, owning the ISBN and managing the entire process, contracting for editing, design, typesetting, printing & binding, etc. Any company that describes itself as a "self-publishing service" or anything similar is not to be trusted. That is of course in contrast to book printing companies (of which there are hundreds) that sell book printing services to publishers (small or large, self- or other).

In any event, "you pays yer money and you takes yer chances." Study Dan Poynter's Self-Publishing Manual (and take a look at my booklet -- see link in sig. block below) for orientation.

--Ken

Art Edwards
01-17-2010, 07:05 PM
A deal with Lightning Source, a printer, comes without the baggage of a writer-subsidy publisher relationship. You pay them to have books printed, relatively cheaply, and it's your job to sell them. They also offer to distribute your book at Amazon, B&N and important wholesale outlets for $12 a year. Again, you're choice, and your book won't sell just because it's distributed.

DoomieBey
01-18-2010, 02:09 AM
What about Lightning Source or Book Masters?
Having obsessively followed the Bewares & Background Checks forum for years, if I were self-publishing, I'd go with Lulu or Createspace. I'm reasonably confident that neither of them would screw me over.

jungle_cat
01-18-2010, 07:01 AM
I've been very pleased with Createspace as a POD. I do feel their Pro-package is the only way to to go. They are easy to use and I love how my book looks.

Sandyz
01-29-2010, 11:47 PM
After a near miss with a “publishing” company that would have stolen my book it took about a year for me to regain footing and learn as much as I could about the publishing world. This site (AW) (http://www.absolutewrite.com/forums/index.php) was my main source of information. Also PE (Predators and Publishers) (http://www.anotherealm.com/prededitors/peba.htm)

I spent months researching possible Self Publishers and stumbled on Avid Readers Publishing Group. (http://www.ericpatterson.name/avidreaderspg/index.html)

After exhausting every negative word I could think of on the web in reference to this small publishing press not one filed complaint was found…only praise from authors concerning their experience. I contacted Eric Patterson (http://www.ericpatterson.name/avidreaderspg/Contact%20publisher%20pro.html) and received a price quote determined by my word count and the opportunity to have the book edited. (My choice) I purchased a few books from his on-line store and found them to look and feel as professional as many paper back book’s I have bought.

Once deciding to have my book self published I contacted Avid Readers Publishing group and obtained a list of services Eric offered included in the cost; ISBN, hosting my book on his on-line book store, Barnes and Noble, Amazon,…and the usual book markers, fliers, extra cost if purchased. (I have also found my book listed on other book sites both here in the US and overseas. ) All rights to my books are mine

My mother, an artist, painted a portrait for the cover and Eric did a exceptional job taking a photo of the painting and designing my book cover. It took my breath away when I was sent the galley cover to approve or not.

My experience as been a positive one with Eric Paterson, emails are answered within a day, books I order are received within three business days, no pages are missing, binding tight, printing clear, I have a phone number that I can call and speak to a “real” person, and I have received two royalty checks both reflecting my actual sales. If I question Eric throughout the month about how many books I have sold, he has the count. I must add all comments about my book has been excellent…so far everyone praises the cover art.

Eric Patterson communicates with his authors through helpful e-mails for ideas on marketing self published books…no cost or tactics to get his authors to buy this information. Everything on his web site is upfront and honest…no hidden costs or surprises.

My problem with self publishing was the high up-front costs or my lack of knowledge to format my own book. I tried and miserably failed.

When I found Avid Readers Publishing Group (http://www.ericpatterson.name/avidreaderspg/index.html), for me it was a dream come true…the publishing cost a bit under $200.00, books I buy low enough I have been able to give away over 50 books to date. The more books I purchase the lower the cost per book and shipping costs at bulk rate not over charged. I have made back plus some in sales the money I invested and still have books on hand to sell or use for marketing.

Self publishing is a personal choice and handled right I believe can turn a profit…I continue to learn new ways to self market books and had to jump in and tell my story. There are people that care about their self published authors and I feel blessed to have met someone that goes above and beyond what some would not expect when self publishing. I hope my experience can help at least one person that has made the decision to self publish…someone that can hold their book, feel proud, and not feel sick about moneys lost. Miracles happen…some times we need to go out and look for them. :e2BIC:

Sandyz

ResearchGuy
01-30-2010, 02:36 AM
. . .Also PE (Predators and Publishers) (http://www.anotherealm.com/prededitors/peba.htm)
. . .
Preditors & Editors. (Misspelling of "predators" is deliberate play on words.)

--Ken

Sandyz
01-30-2010, 06:20 AM
Quote by Research Guy, Preditors & Editors. (Misspelling of "predators" is deliberate play on words.)


opps...:gone:

wysewomon
02-15-2010, 07:37 PM
I self-published an anthology of original fairy tales with Xlibris a couple years ago. It was a lark; I had the money. I got their most expensive package (at the time; I think they've added more since). I liked what I got. They put out a good product.

On the other hand, they way over charge for their books. Mine came to only 183 pages and it's $18 for the trade paper or $25 for the hardcover. I don't think many people are willing to pay that. And I've learned that they, as well as many (if not most) of the POD companies are in business to sell their own services. Okay, maybe I was naive not to get that right away, but there you go. Hardly a week goes by that I don't get a call or e-mail offering some great new marketing package. They don't give any marketing support; they just want to sell you the package and let you do the rest. I know there's quite a bit of this necessary even if you sell your book to a traditional publisher, but the PODs seem really over the top with it. And I'm terrible at that kind of thing. I think in the years since my book has been out, I've managed to sell 40 copies.

So, I think one can do well if one is willing to really beat the bushes for marketing and if one researches the companies in question. Whether you really want to do that or not is up to you.

WW

Chris P
02-15-2010, 07:44 PM
I'm considering Lulu for a study guide that I wrote. From what I've heard here, non-fic SP/POD can make sense, so I'm tempted to try. Due to my day job, I have access to scientific societies and specialty book suppliers who might be persuaded to list my book, so marketing will be less of a problem.

Wysewoman is right, the price for POD is often an issue (my POD novella is 144 pages and sell for $20 to 25 softcover, depending on the mood of the publisher that day.

IceCreamEmpress
02-15-2010, 11:11 PM
I've had good experiences with Lulu, and good experiences with local printers.

twnkltoz
02-18-2010, 06:19 AM
I have my own imprint and order straight from a printer. I have someone who helped me with the formatting and cover and legwork of setting everything up for a fee, and I hired an illustrator. I can charge much less than I would have to for a lulu book and still make a profit.

Art Edwards
02-19-2010, 08:46 PM
I recommend Lightning Source for a printer.

rainyman
02-27-2010, 08:16 AM
I published a book of short fiction in May of 2009. After comparing the service fees and products offered I settled on Booklocker.com. I purchased my ISBN @ $150.00 and paid a set up fee to Booklocker of $249.00. In return I received copious amounts of help and guidance in formatting the book for press, was never pressured to purchase any peripheral services such as cover art, upgraded paper, etc. Angela Hoy and her husband run a clean operation and offer advice based on the author's individual needs as opposed to the profitability of their POD company. That has been my experience and I will no doubt publish with them again.

cf

ResearchGuy
02-27-2010, 08:46 AM
. . . I settled on Booklocker.com.. . .
They have a good reputation, which I am glad to hear is still deserved. A friend of mine published a book with them several years ago, and was treated well.

--Ken

Nandi
02-27-2010, 04:38 PM
I published a book of short fiction in May of 2009. After comparing the service fees and products offered I settled on Booklocker.com. I purchased my ISBN @ $150.00 and paid a set up fee to Booklocker of $249.00. In return I received copious amounts of help and guidance in formatting the book for press, was never pressured to purchase any peripheral services such as cover art, upgraded paper, etc. Angela Hoy and her husband run a clean operation and offer advice based on the author's individual needs as opposed to the profitability of their POD company. That has been my experience and I will no doubt publish with them again.

cf

I agree! A positive experience -- Angela was very responsive and provided plenty of assistance when I needed it. I provided my own photo for the cover, and was very satisfied with what their designer did with it.

MickRooney
02-28-2010, 03:41 AM
I published a book of short fiction in May of 2009. After comparing the service fees and products offered I settled on Booklocker.com. I purchased my ISBN @ $150.00 and paid a set up fee to Booklocker of $249.00. In return I received copious amounts of help and guidance in formatting the book for press, was never pressured to purchase any peripheral services such as cover art, upgraded paper, etc. Angela Hoy and her husband run a clean operation and offer advice based on the author's individual needs as opposed to the profitability of their POD company. That has been my experience and I will no doubt publish with them again.

They run a top-drawer service with just the right balance. The focus is on author and book, not the fee extracted or amount of books going to be bought by the author from Booklocker.

The services are flexible, with just enough support from Angela and Richard, and the economical fees demonstrate clearly that Booklocker make a very limited profit on the set-up and have a vested interest in seeing the author's book sell.

brainstorm77
02-28-2010, 03:43 AM
To answer the question no. I think you need to determine your goals etc and go with what will work for you. Some places are very upfront with things while other are shady.. Just like anything in life.

Pookiestoop
03-24-2010, 12:00 AM
An established author suggested I go to PowerHouse Books in Brooklyn for my photo book. Did research and found that PH has books in stores, Amazon, etc., but they charge $250 for a Submission Programme as they call it. I pay first, per a return email, then have a phone conversation with some guy who claims he will answer all my questions. Great website and tempting if not for the large "non-refundable" fee and not knowing what I get for my cash.

LadyMage
04-19-2010, 04:50 AM
I self-published two books out of my urban fantasy series via CreateSpace and have nothing but good things to say about them. They're a POD and what you upload is what you get insofar as interior, but they have an excellent cover template system that leaves a lot of room for customization, including a template for anyone looking to create their own from scratch.

The only money you pay is for the proof and the shipping. There is a Pro plan available for $39/year, which will grant you the expanded distribution channels, which would make your work available on international Amazon sites and bookstore affiliates.

I know I sound like an ad, but truthfully, I doubt I would've gotten better service elsewhere. The marketing, though, falls squarely onto my shoulders, which I don't mind, and a lot of their ad services, such as postcards, bookmarks, etc. can be ordered elsewhere on the cheap.

Carmy
05-11-2010, 12:34 AM
I just published a short story collection via CreateSpace. It's available on all English-language Amazon sites.

I'm very happy with the way the book looks and with the way CS support dealt with me. Very friendly and professional folks.

HistorySleuth
05-16-2010, 09:49 PM
I have one that I plan to do through createspace after researching what was out there. I know how to do book layout, Ive done it before. Cover Art is no problem either. At the time I originally asked at AW (last year maybe?) there wasn't any user opinions yet. Glad to hear people are having positive experiences with createspace.

Ralyks
05-19-2010, 03:28 AM
IThey're a POD and what you upload is what you get insofar as interior, but they have an excellent cover template system that leaves a lot of room for customization

Looking at it, it looked to me as though the only option was to design the cover yourself and supply it as a picture file. Do they have templates much like Lulu where you can just type in the title and author and choose a stock image? I was looking for that but had trouble finding it. It seemed you had to supply the cover formatted, just as you do the interior.

LadyMage
05-19-2010, 06:49 AM
They do have the stock templates that come with images, some of them quite pretty. Thing is, with mine I knew I was doing my own, so I had a covert artist show off her chops with both Books 1 and 2. If you go for the Easy Cover Creator, you'll have the template layouts that are with graphics. They're rather nice and VERY customizable.

Ralyks
05-26-2010, 10:05 PM
They do have the stock templates that come with images, some of them quite pretty. Thing is, with mine I knew I was doing my own, so I had a covert artist show off her chops with both Books 1 and 2. If you go for the Easy Cover Creator, you'll have the template layouts that are with graphics. They're rather nice and VERY customizable.

Okay, good to know. Is there any way to play with these before you have your book ready? I'm not ready to publish yet, and, uinlike Lulu, where it looks like you can play around and change things prior to publication, CreateSpace has all these warnings (you can't change this after you click save & continue), so I haven't put anything at all in yet.

LadyMage
05-26-2010, 10:30 PM
That is odd - I was able to do that before. If they changed that, likely it's because the spine width of cover would depend on how long the book actually is, which necessitates the interior being done first. A starting draft upload should be OK until you are ready; you can re-upload if need be.

HistorySleuth
05-27-2010, 12:51 AM
Is there a charge to reload to createspace or no ? I was guessing not because its a PDF.

When I looked at the setup it I thought the only thing that had the can't change warning was the title.

LadyMage
05-27-2010, 06:31 PM
Only thing you pay for on CreateSpace is the actual proof copy and the Pro Plan, if you choose it. You can re-upload however many times you want, right up until you submit it for review/publishing. After that, you get to either order your proof or come back to edit, and re-submit. No money unless you're ordering a proof.

mercs
05-28-2010, 12:33 AM
I started with Lulu at a time when they were getting shredded on places like here for pressing ahead in attracting customers, but doing precious little to help the authors beyond bombard them with add on packages and copy and paste help. I can say things have improved now and I have a person in their office who takes my emails and calls and gets things sorted ASAP. It's still a company, but whereas before all I heard was alarming news of them not acting or not doing anything bar the minimum, now it appears they are getting their act together. Furthermore, the price of producing the book is quite competitive if I don't take any royalties myself (and ultimately why should I, I'm a nobody who wants to get spotted, not get rich by charging $30 for a paperback!). I think they are a realistic option as they know their stuff, they get the product out there eventually and if they start offering the trade paper to the UK, the price will really plumment to a point where I can make my work very competitive. So a great overall report for Lulu, but still some great changes ahead...

MickRooney
05-28-2010, 06:36 PM
Furthermore, the price of producing the book is quite competitive if I don't take any royalties myself (and ultimately why should I, I'm a nobody who wants to get spotted, not get rich by charging $30 for a paperback!).

Mercs,

I also chose to forgo most of my royalty in an effort to keep my books at a competitive rate, but I'd still suggest we are in a minority when it comes to self-publishing through Lulu.

Ralyks
06-11-2010, 09:25 PM
You can't change the title, subtitle, ISBN, author, or contributors after entering them. My issue is that I'm not sure what I want for the subtitle--I wanted to play with some different possibilities depending on how they looked on the cover, but I can't get to the point where I play with the cover options without entering a permanent subtitle...Also, I haven't chosen all of my contributors yet (basically, I'm going to use Createspace to produce my literary magazine and just make it an "anthology" instead of a "magazine". I previously produced it through offset printing with a printer, but I've decided I want it available POD instead rather than having to print it and warehouse and it mail it out myself). So I'll have to wait until I have made those decision to play with the cover. But what it actually says is "This cannot be changed after you submit this book for publishing." Is playing with the cover and such all prior to "submitting for publishing"? That is, if I click save, can I come back and change that stuff later? Contributors, bios, etc.? I wasn't entirely sure, so I didn't click.

wilhem spihntingle
06-22-2010, 04:20 AM
I can only speak of my experience to date with Smashwords. I just uploaded my novel over the weekend. I have not spent a dime of my own money, and already made a few sales, even though I have not told any one yet. My advice is to really put the work in, before it is uploaded. There is a specific format, and if you follow the instructions, it works nicely. In a week or so, I will hopefully be added to SM's premium catalog, at no cost to me. I'm not in it for the money, so I can't complain about SM. In fact, I am pretty impressed so far. Like anything else, you get out what you put in. I am working on doing the same with the printed version, and again do not intend to part with any of my cash (I would pay for the proof, which is nothing) Good luck to all!

tirial
06-22-2010, 12:46 PM
We went with local printers initially. For a while we had a small printing press actually in house to run later books off, but that's not something I would ever recommend. It's messy, time consuming and unfinished foil covers have sharp edges!

Now we use Lightning Source.

twnkltoz
06-26-2010, 08:22 PM
Why not self publish in a way where you can actually make money? It would cost about $16 just to produce my book at lulu. Who wants to pay that much for a middle grade fiction paperback? And that would be with me making no money on it for my time, effort and talent. Instead, I paid someone to help me format it and design the cover, got an ISBN and went to Lightning Source to publish it myself. Books cost me around $4.65 to print. While my cover price is still a tad on the high side, it's not ridiculous and I have plenty of profit to pay my illustrator and other costs and keep a little for myself.

They say in order for a self published book to attract the attention of agents or publishers, or to even be an incentive for them to look further at your query, you need to sell 5,000 copies. Your price has to be reasonable in order to do that.

ResearchGuy
06-26-2010, 08:59 PM
. . . They say in order for a self published book to attract the attention of agents or publishers, or to even be an incentive for them to look further at your query, you need to sell 5,000 copies. . . . .
K.L. Brady sold 2,000 (if I recall right) before a major publsher signed her to a two-book deal. (She is a phenomenon, by the way, and an AW poster.) Stephanie Chandler sold probably a small number of copies of a Lulu-printed book before signing it to a commercial publisher. (She has a variety of books, both subsidy-published and commercially published.) An acquaintance of mine was signed to a contract (albeit for a new and larger book on the same topic) by a major publisher that had seen a copy of his self-published book. (I don't know his sales numbers, but I doubt they approached 5,000. It was content and quality on a saleable topic that interested the publisher.)

Anyway, those who sell 5,000 copies of a self-published book may well be making far more money from self-publishing than they would from a commercial publishing contract.

The ONLY question is whether the publishing company believes the book is likely to be a profitable one for it (and of course that it fits into its catalog).

--Ken

twnkltoz
06-26-2010, 09:56 PM
Good to know people have had success from selling fewer copies! Thanks for posting that.

circlexranch
06-28-2010, 01:29 AM
Well, I just uploaded my files to Createspace and am waiting for the review/approval.

Aside from a couple of clunks in the user interface, it was very easy. Now I want to get on with it and see the proof!!! (:

Of course I opted for the pro option. It is a black/white art book. My collaborator did all of this mad line art and we are marketing it as a collectible coloring book. The images relate to a specific collectibles niche, so we have a built in platform. It is not a commerical publishing project and would not interest an agent.

My per copy cost will be $2.15 plus shipping. From the forums I've gleaned that shipping breaks down to about 40 cents per copy on an order of two dozen. No Publish America extortion in shipping.

If there is interest, I plan on creating my own imprint and doing more art books and some short novels directed at the collector genre. It's not fanfic, I own the characters.

Because of some serious life interventions, this has taken WAY too long to bring to fruition. Now that it is uploaded, I can't wait.

Createspace requires skills and commitment. It is not for those who want to scribble on yellow pads and then give it to someone to fix. Learning how to do the layout was intense, but very rewarding. Will post more when I hear back and get my proofs.

Terri

twnkltoz
06-28-2010, 04:19 PM
Good luck with it, Terri! There's something very cool about getting that first proof in your hands. :)

wilhem spihntingle
06-28-2010, 04:38 PM
Congrats Terri,

I am going to be uploading the PDF soon as well. I there a cost for the proof?

Thanks,

Sean

MartinD
06-30-2010, 07:30 PM
Are PODs, like Lulu and createspace, considered printers or publishers? Do they put their name on your book, so that you're "Lulu published" as opposed to, say, Martin House Publishers?

ResearchGuy
06-30-2010, 07:59 PM
Are PODs, like Lulu and createspace, considered printers or publishers? Do they put their name on your book, so that you're "Lulu published" as opposed to, say, Martin House Publishers?
If the ISBN belongs to, say, Lulu, then Lulu is the publisher. If the ISBN belongs to, say, Jane Jones, then Jane Jones is the publisher.

Lulu publishes books under its name as publisher (its ISBNs) and also under author/publisher's name (with the author/publisher owning the ISBN). But in some records, I have observed, Lightning Source will appear to be the publisher even if the author owns the ISBN.

Lulu, by the way, is not a printer. They are middlemen between author and printer. (I spent a day at their HQ last year, and that was made clear: they do NOT print the books.)

Dunno details about Createspace, but I doubt very much that Amazon does any book printing itself either.

--Ken