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Editing for authors: because every writer needs a good editor.

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MarkP

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Lulu takes a 20% royalty on all books sold through them or there distribution plans.

I am not sure how that makes them just a printer. They are just a printer if you order books and go sell them on your own, but if you were going to do that, why would you pay the absurd mark up that they charge for printing?

They are a great company that is a good fit for certain projects. If the author intends to sell a lot of books and has a good plan on how to market their book, the Lulu model is not good for that author, it is good for Lulu.

If someone wants to truly self publish, why they would do all of the work and then give away royalties and pay an absurd markup for printing is beyond me.

Mark Pitzele
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www.millcitypress.net
 

Christine N.

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I'd never used it for anything but personal projects, never sold publicly.

And even if they take 20% of the profit (Not the total price of the item, only the over-base price), that leaves 80% for the author.

You're right, they're not good for large quanitites, but they need to pay the bills too. On the other hand, if you truly self-publish, then you spend money on websites and storefronts and whatever method you take as payment - like the credit card charges, paypal charges, or what have you. You'd still have expenses to cover.

So in the end, you'll probably make the same amount. So is it that much of a markup, when you look at it that way?

If you just want to print books and not sell them online and only take cash, then no, Lulu's not a good option.
 

Dusk

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MarkP wrote:

"Why should the 'self published' author pay the markup on the printing of the book that lulu charges?"

Ah, you're bringing up the whole middleman versus go-straight-to-the-printer issue. Well, the simple answer is that not everyone has the knowledge to deal directly with a printer, and some people are willing to pay folks who do have the knowledge, to do the work on their behalf. As Christine N says, Lulu makes things very easy for authors, and it also offers a terrific support system.

Having struggled with Lightning Source's Website, I'm sympathetic with that view. :) But I do think that more needs to be done to educate self-publishing authors, so that they can realize that Lulu is a middleman, and that cheaper alternatives exist.

On the issue of royalties: Lulu is both a subsidy press and a self-publishing service, depending on which of their plans you go with. The issue isn't whether they take a cut of the profit. If you'll look at the first post in your thread, you'll see that Lightning Source - the main printer used by self-publishers who cut out the middleman - also takes a cut of the profit. That's what distributors do, and it's very, very difficult to sell a printed book without a distributor (though one can sell an e-book that way).

The issue is rather who owns the ISBN. As is clear from this FAQ, in cases where Lulu owns the ISBN, it's acting as a subsidy press, and so it distributes royalties. In cases where the authors owns the ISBN or there is no ISBN, Lulu is simply acting as a middleman for the printer (it doesn't do its own printing, by the way), and so it distributes author revenues. The IRS understands this distinction; I hope you do too. :)

I might add that, when Lulu sells e-books and other digital downloads, it is not a middleman; it's doing all the work itself. So in that case, the middleman issue doesn't arise, though its distribution is limited to its own Website.
 
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MarkP

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What you say is true. The problem is how they market it. They market the product like it is "free", it is at a rudimentary level, and they market they printing costs as if those are their costs, they most certainly are not. The reason I know this is because I have asked. Like I said, they are good at what they do and they are a good fit for some people. They do it in a way though that I believe takes advantage of the author.

Mark Pitzele
www.millcitypress.net
www.bookprintingrevolution.com
 

Dusk

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My perception is that they're much more honest than the average business. The first thing they tell you is that you're not likely to make much money on your book. :) And they're quite clear on the fact that you don't need to buy the extras in order to publish through them.

"The reason I know this is because I have asked."

Or you could have seen that from my figures at the beginning of this thread. :)

I agree that it's unpleasant that they're not honest about the fact that they're upping the printing costs, but the formula by which they pay their own costs seems to be a very complex one. For example, an author pays $99 for a Published By You packet (currently on sale for $50, I believe), which includes an ISBN and printing by Lightning Source. Though Lulu doesn't say this, that fee must be going to Lightning Source, which charges just about that much for the set-up fee. So how is Lulu paying for the ISBN? Or the annual Lightning Source fee? Possibly it's partly by padding the printing expenses. At any rate, all of this financial decision-making goes on behind the scenes.

What it comes down to, I think, is that publishing is always a matter of Buyer Beware. If an author were using a local print shop, they'd likewise have to be wary of any claims made by the printer. Comparison shopping is best.
 

Christine N.

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Now that's true.
Not everyone get the 'published by you' package, but they all have to go through LS to be printed. So how is that setup fee being paid?

If you were go to it yourself, and purchase an ISBN and then pay LS, you'd pay alot more than Lulu charges. They may pad the fees, but I think in the end it probably works out close.

They're honest about what they are, and don't make allusions to being 'accepted' or the quality of your book, the way vanity houses do.
 

Dusk

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"Not everyone get the 'published by you' package, but they all have to go through LS to be printed."

Everyone who purchases the Global Distribution package, I think you mean. Folks who buy only the Basic Distribution package are printed by another printer, whose name isn't publicized.

"If you were go to it yourself, and purchase an ISBN and then pay LS, you'd pay alot more than Lulu charges. They may pad the fees, but I think in the end it probably works out close."

Indeed, you have to pay $270 for twenty ISBNs to work with Lightning Source, which is a hefty fee if you're only publishing one book, or if you're anticipating on selling no more than one or two hundred copies. So Lulu is a good choice for tiny press runs; I even know traditional self-publishers who use Lulu for things like review copies. It's also a good choice if you only want to sell through your own Website and through Lulu's storefront. It's an excellent choice for e-books; I don't know of any other online bookstore that takes only a twenty percent cut.

For larger sales of POD books that will be distributed through other sources: No, the padded printing costs add up. So does the fact that Lulu automatically sets the distributors' percentage at fifty percent, while at Lightning Source you can set it lower (and will want to, if you're only selling to online bookstores). Look at the figures at the beginning of this thread again; the profit from a Lightning Source book can be something like twenty times greater than the profit from a Lulu book.

But the other side of the coin is that Lightning Source usually works with publishers or experienced self-publishers, and so it doesn't make things easy for beginning self-publishers. That's what you get for the fees you pay to Lulu: ease of use. And a lot of authors consider that worth the money.

What's troubling isn't that these different alternatives exist - different approaches are good, because not every shoe is going to fit everyone - but that a lot of self-publishers don't know what the different alternatives are. So I think that laying out what you will get from different services is helpful.
 

AndyPolyak

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CreateSpace is not so good

They asked me to to process my PDF myself and to create the bookcover. I did everything. Then they asked me to change my book cover. I did. Then they said they couldn't get my uploaded bookcover. I uploaded again. Then they told me that there were some problems with my PDF-text. I made another PDF. Then I discovered that I had to buy and approve my own book to launch its sale. I live in Eastern Europe, and I don't want to wait for the book to come from USA. It takes more than a month to come to my door.

Having run out of any reasonable patience, I left Creative Space even before learning that their ISBN is actually a fake - by the way, thank's for the information!

Lulu provides authors with a nice service where everything is automatic: resizing pages, creating a suitable PDF and a book cover etc. I don't have to buy each book of my own under compulsion to launch its sale!

The books are not so expensive at Lulu. My paperback narrative costs only $9,60 (http://www.lulu.com/content/1357480) - I don't know the situation in other countries, but it is not a great sum in my country. Good school textbooks cost $12 and more, actually everyone can afford to pay.

Lulu is better, to my mind. If Creative Space doesn't stop trying authors' patience, they are doomed to fail.
 
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AndyPolyak

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Oh, sorry, I forgot to say something important about self-publishers.

As one writer told me at Livejournal, money should always flow from the publisher to the author. Not considering promotional packeges which are not compulsory. If you are asked to pay for publishing your book, think twice! It can be a scam.

In my opinion, the author's work is a sufficient contribution. If publishers want writers to pay, they may write books themselves.
 

Dusk

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"Then I discovered that I had to buy and approve my own book to launch its sale."

I'm afraid that Lulu has the same requirement for its Global Distribution books (though not for the books that are sold only at its Website, which I gather is the route you took). I'm sorry to hear that you had so many problems in uploading the book to CreateSpace.

"My paperback narrative costs only $9,60 (http://www.lulu.com/content/1357480) - I don't know the situation in other countries, but it is not a great sum in my country."

It's a good price in the U.S.; trade paperbacks are usually more expensive than that. I think your novel is shorter than the average SF/F novel, which is why the price worked out so well for you.

Congratulation on getting your book out!
 

Christine N.

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I think in many ways Lulu is like the 7Eleven. You know the milk and bag of chips are more expensive than in the grocery store, but when you need them at 2 am, it doesn't matter. They're open and just around the corner.

You're paying for convenience.
 

Strongbear

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I have a question since I've been using Lulu so far to print my book, and through their distribution plan, I have managed to have my book listed on Amazon. With Createspace, where the OP says that this POD book that is produced is ONLY listed on Amazon, does that mean that you are only allowed to list your book on Amazon and not anywhere else (ie you have to remove it from other places like Lulu)? Or does it mean that that particular version of it (with its own unique ISBN) will only be listed on Amazon?

Can I, for example, have 2 simultaneous versions running - 1 on Lulu and 1 on Amazon's Createspace? And if so, will I need to slightly change the title of my book for the Amazon POD version (eg have it saying "special edition" or something to distinguish it from the original Lulu version which has also ended up on Amazon?

Any help appreciated. Thanks.
 

Julie Worth

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Or does it mean that that particular version of it (with its own unique ISBN) will only be listed on Amazon?

That sounds right.

Can I, for example, have 2 simultaneous versions running - 1 on Lulu and 1 on Amazon's Createspace? And if so, will I need to slightly change the title of my book for the Amazon POD version (eg have it saying "special edition" or something to distinguish it from the original Lulu version which has also ended up on Amazon?

I think you can have both on Amazon, even with the same title, but why would you want to? That would only dilute your ratings.
 

Strongbear

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That sounds right.



I think you can have both on Amazon, even with the same title, but why would you want to? That would only dilute your ratings.

Well I paid for the distribution plan from Lulu which would put my book onto Amazon, B&N and Borders. Now that it's finally on Amazon, I don't want to remove it again. First off, it would mean that this distribution plan was all for nothing (I already have a couple of reviews for that Lulu version that is on Amazon), and second, if the Createspace version of my book is only on Amazon.com (if that's all that Amazon Advantage allows) then it means that some people in the UK who only use Amazon.co.uk might not buy that version anyway.

Yes, it could possibly dilute the ratings but it could also spread the book further afield with more than one version being offered. I'm going to have 2 separate covers anyway and one in UK English and one in US English so that the two are distinct enough from each other.

Other questions I have for people who have used this Createspace service are:

1. If you are assigned an ISBN number by Createspace, should you then put that ISBN number inside the book on the copyright page (just as you would for Lulu)?

2. If you have previously listed a different publisher on both the interior of the book and on the outer cover, should you also remove this from the new Createspace version?

3. What happens with the new Createspace barcode if you have your own cover art (I had a one-piece wraparound cover that I made for my Lulu version which has a space for a barcode)? Will I have to generate a new barcode and put that on the new cover myself? Or will Createspace do this somehow (although I can't see how they would on your uploaded cover unless they are actually adding to the artwork themselves with their own barcode).

4. Createspace (or Amazon Advantage) don't have a Live Chat service do they where they can provide assistance? I can't see it anywhere. That was something that I found particularly useful with Lulu when I was creating and uploading my files in order to get it right.

Any help on these matters would be appreciated.

Thanks.
 
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Strongbear

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I'm looking into Amazon Advantage and Create Space. I know with Amazon Advantage that you would normally have to send them a copy of your book every time a customer places an order. But what happens with Create Space? Since it's POD, does that mean you are still paying for the shipping cost to that customer (say it's shipping from the US to somewhere in China, for example)? Shouldn't the customer be paying for shipping costs since any customer who buys another book on Amazon would be paying for shipping costs himself? It's not normally Amazon who pays for that.

Does anyone know about this? How exactly does it work if you use Create Space? What costs are you actually incurring?
 
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