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View Full Version : Lulu vs iUniverse vs Lightning Source



popmuze
12-12-2006, 07:48 PM
I've been considering Lulu, Iuniverse and Lightning Source for my project, which is the paperback version of my book that's currently in print (and well reviewed) as a hard cover for the reference market (I maintained the rights). I feel it's got crossover potential especially if people could buy it for $30 instead of $130 (It's about 700 pages).

Does anyone have experience with all three? Or does anyone have an idea as to which would be cheaper and/or easier and/or faster for me to make my fortune (hah).

ResearchGuy
12-12-2006, 09:00 PM
With Lightning Source you cut out the middleman and get lower cost. BUT, as with Lulu, you are completely responsible for book design/layout/formatting.

Easy is not necessarily cheap or fast. Fast is not necessarily easy. Cheap is not necessarily fast. There is no one-size-fits-all choice.

I am currently reading a novel published by a self-publishing cooperative via Lightning source. Fine novel (literary, not popular fiction, Bill Pieper's Gomez), but the book layout could have used a professional's touch -- the sort of thing that, say, Aventine Press, or probably even iUniverse, would have fixed, or that an independent book designer (or an MS Word maven with an eye on standard book layout) would have tidied up before the file was uploaded.

For a book with proven potential, I just have to think there is a commercial publisher that would take it on. Facts on File? I might even pitch it (if I were you) to Writer's Digest Books, and position it as a reference for writers with potential for much broader market. In fact, I might start there.

--Ken

jamiehall
12-12-2006, 09:31 PM
For a book with proven potential, I just have to think there is a commercial publisher that would take it on. Facts on File? I might even pitch it (if I were you) to Writer's Digest Books, and position it as a reference for writers with potential for much broader market. In fact, I might start there.

I would agree with this.

popmuze
12-12-2006, 10:54 PM
For a book with proven potential, I just have to think there is a commercial publisher that would take it on. Facts on File? I might even pitch it (if I were you) to Writer's Digest Books, and position it as a reference for writers with potential for much broader market. In fact, I might start there

My problem is that it's still available as a reference book (and hopefully will be for a long time). I don't want to step on the publisher's toes. I'd like to just market it to music web sites, and within the music industry, maybe to colleges, to radio stations, to fan sites, my space, etc.

I've tried some of the specialized music book publishers, but it seems to be too big (thus costly) for them to invest in. With POD, I'm wondering if I can bring my costs down low enough to make the book attractive to the consumer.

ResearchGuy
12-12-2006, 11:35 PM
... I'm wondering if I can bring my costs down low enough to make the book attractive to the consumer.
1. What would the production cost be via Lightning Source? (You should be able to calculate that from info. at the site.)
2. Given that, what price would you need to set for a reasonable markup?
3. What do actual consumers say about that price for that book? (That means doing at least an informal survey.)

All that leaves aside the question of costs incurred in getting a suitable file to Lightning Source (one that is in accordance with any contract or copyright issues, that is properly laid out, and so on).

If your current publisher has ONLY the rights to hardbound edition and you own unfettered publication rights to a trade paperback (or mass market paperback, for that matter) edition, there is no seeming reason not to approach commercial publishers for a trade paperback edition. Their lawyers will examine the contract for themselves anyway. And if there is any uncertainty, they might be able to negotiate a fee deal with your hardback publisher to tidy up any issues.

I still say pursue commercial publishing, and I still would recommend starting with the two publishers I named.

--Ken

jamiehall
12-12-2006, 11:45 PM
I've tried some of the specialized music book publishers, but it seems to be too big (thus costly) for them to invest in. With POD, I'm wondering if I can bring my costs down low enough to make the book attractive to the consumer.

Isn't POD based on page lengths, with the prices going up quite steeply for longer books? If the small publishers you are looking at won't want to print it because it is very long, my guess is that POD would be even worse in that regard.

popmuze
12-13-2006, 01:49 AM
I still say pursue commercial publishing, and I still would recommend starting with the two publishers I named.

Ok Ken, I just send off a proposal to Writer's Digest Books. If it pans out, you're in for a big acknowledgement.

GHF65
12-13-2006, 01:54 AM
Is there a way to cut the size of the original down into multiple smaller units--by decade, producer, drug of choice, whatever--to make the paperback version more palatable to a mainstream publisher? I'm in no way suggesting that you are wordy or in any way wrong in your original concept. I'm suggesting that a series of paperbacks might be a real turn-on for a paperback publisher and wouldn't be as likely to irritate the publisher of the orignal hard-bound big-dollar version.

Think of the repeated buzz opportunities as each new volume is released! Think of the big cardboard displays with your picture at the top and all of the volumes lined up below it! Think of the collectors who would sharpen their elbows to bleeding just for a shot at getting the entire set! :hooray:

Time for my meds.

ResearchGuy
12-13-2006, 02:14 AM
Isn't POD based on page lengths, with the prices going up quite steeply for longer books? If the small publishers you are looking at won't want to print it because it is very long, my guess is that POD would be even worse in that regard.
POD is expensive. That is one reason why commercial publishers do not use it, although small niche publishers can make it work.

Regular print runs (offset) are a whole lot cheaper per copy, once the print run is large enough. Economies really kick in starting at 3,000 copies. (I have heard this from enough publishers and other knowledgeable folks to consider it reliable.)

Recently I bought a thousand-page HARDBACK list priced at $35. Wholesale is 55% less than that. Obviously big books are not impossible to do. Pynchon's latest massive novel weighs in at around a thousand pages, or more -- and lists for $35, I believe. Costco has it for about $18. Ok, BIG print run, but spend some time in a big bookstore and you will find countless other examples with more normal print runs.

Much would depend on the quality of the book proposal, of course. Publishers have to be shown what the market is, how it can be reached (marketing plan), what the competition is, and so on. Some of that "and so on" is a slam dunk for a book already in print in a $125 hardbound from a commercial publisher -- and one that has had more than one edition at that.

--Ken

ResearchGuy
12-13-2006, 02:17 AM
Ok Ken, I just send off a proposal to Writer's Digest Books. If it pans out, you're in for a big acknowledgement.
Excellent! Good luck!

--Ken

CaoPaux
12-13-2006, 02:23 AM
Excellent suggestion, Schoolmarm. Since the paper used by POD is thicker than standard paperbacks, a 700-page book would monstrous and likely beyond the tolerance of the binding. A two- or three-volume set would be easier to manage all around.

popmuze
12-13-2006, 02:37 AM
Is there a way to cut the size of the original down into multiple smaller units--by decade, producer, drug of choice, whatever--to make the paperback version more palatable to a mainstream publisher? I'm in no way suggesting that you are wordy or in any way wrong in your original concept. I'm suggesting that a series of paperbacks might be a real turn-on for a paperback publisher and wouldn't be as likely to irritate the publisher of the orignal hard-bound big-dollar version.

Think of the repeated buzz opportunities as each new volume is released! Think of the big cardboard displays with your picture at the top and all of the volumes lined up below it! Think of the collectors who would sharpen their elbows to bleeding just for a shot at getting the entire set! :hooray:

Time for my meds.


Believe it or not, I've actually thought about this. Since the book currently has three separate indexes (and two others completed which the original publisher had to drop because of space) it could easily be one book for the main entries and another for all the cross references. Not sure the decade approach would be fulfilling enough for the completist. The drug of choice approach is fascinating...but that would be another book. Looks like I'll have to update my letter to Writers Digest Books.

ResearchGuy
12-13-2006, 04:22 AM
... Looks like I'll have to update my letter to Writers Digest Books.
If you have not mailed the letter yet, allow me to encourage you to take the time (weeks) to develop a proper book proposal. Seek comment on the draft, too. Writer's Digest Bookclub itself just offered as part of a dual main selection a book on writing book proposals. Might be worth buying and studying. Jeff Herman's Guide to Book Publishers, Editors & Literary Agents has a several-page discussion of nonfiction book proposals (at least the 2005 edition does).

I would not lose a lot of sleep over the length of the book. Writer's Market (a Writer's Digest publication -- its flagship publication) is nearly 1,200 pages yet retails for $30.

In your proposal, you could offer a few variations on the theme. If they are interested in the project at all, they can take it from there.

For their purposes, be sure to pitch the book's value as a reference for writers! List other markets as icing on the cake. Be sure to review their current books for an idea of what they publish.

--Ken