As a writer, when you finally finish that first manuscript, you heave a giant sigh relief. If you’re like most writers your heart along with a little blood, a lot of sweat, and yes even some tears, went into writing that book. It’s a huge accomplishment for any writer and a celebrated milestone on your writing journey.
But the next step in the process is to decide how the publication of the book will happen. We’ve all heard the horror stories of the traditional publishing process. It can be long, it can be frustrating, and it involves a lot of rejection even for experienced writers. It’s not at all strange or unheard of for writers to look for some other option to get their work on the market, especially with today’s e-book technology.
Advantages of Self-Publishing
Through self-publishing, there is some hope for writers who want to avoid the traditional publishing process but still want to get their work out there for people to read. The biggest advantage to self-publishing versus the traditional publishing process is that you can get your book into print much faster. With self-publishing you also get to control more of the elements and content of your book, you skip the query process altogether, and you can keep a bigger percentage of the royalties if you pay attention.
Within just a couple of weeks or even less you can have your printed book in your hands. It sounds like every writer’s dream, right?
Disadvantages of Self-Publishing
But in truth self-publishing isn’t a magic answer for everyone because can be just as overwhelming and frustrating unless you thoroughly understand how it all works. Nearly eighty percent of writers who self-publish never sell more than one-hundred copies of their book. The disadvantages to self-publishing can include:
- Getting your book edited and formatted properly, is all up to you. If you don’t understand the importance of editing and formatting or the technology that goes with it, you could end up with a final copy that doesn’t showcase your work effectively at all.
- Cover art is the face of your book and your chance for a good first impression, choosing the right one is all your responsibility too.
- Getting your book in front of the right readers, having visibility as an author, and the responsibility for marketing and promoting your book also falls on you. If you don’t already have an established following for your book, you’re going to fight an uphill battle to keep it from becoming invisible to potential readers.
- Your success all depends on the work you put into it. Readers can’t buy your book if they can’t see it to know that it exists in the first place.
It can be easier to make money self-publishing, but only if you’re ready to put the time, effort, and money into getting your book properly edited, the cover art professionally designed, and to put in the time and work to market and promote it properly. So, don’t self-publish because someone told you it’s easier to get your book online. It is easier to get it online and published. It’s not so easy to get those sales.
So, the first thing to decide if you’re going to self-publish is which service to use to get your book into final draft form and available to potential readers. We’re going to look at Lulu versus CreateSpace, just two of the self-publishing options available.
Lulu versus CreateSpace: The Backstory
Lulu was founded in 2002 by Bob Young as an alternative to the traditional publishing process. His desire was to make it simpler and more rewarding for people to both create and read content. Lulu is a self-publishing company which has inspired the production of almost two million publications. It is available in English and five other languages including Dutch, German, French, Italian, and Spanish.
In 2005, BookSurge, a small self-publishing and distribution service and CustomFlix, a DIVD on-Demand company, were acquired by the bookselling giant Amazon.com. CustomFlix became CreateSpace in 2007 and merged with BookSurge two years later to become CreateSpace.
Lulu vs CreateSpace: How it Works
Lulu is for the authors who thrive on the do-it-yourself process. It offers self-publishing which essentially means you as the author does all the work. You can start with a completed or even a nearly finished manuscript if you prefer. The recommendation is that you have your cover art with the title and with the author all in one file before uploading it to the Lulu system.
Cover art is crucial to sales. This is one place where it’s valuable to pay for a professionally designed book cover. But if you prefer and if you have graphic design experience, you can do your own cover art, or you can use their available templates and modify them.
Advantages of Lulu:
- Allows you to skip Selecting an ISBN until you are ready.
- Includes 100’s of Ready to Go Cover Templates that you can add your images and text into and preview a print-ready cover.
- Lulu is a publishing company and can provide you with copyright. But they are not an editing company. They do offer some fee-based services, but they don’t charge for you to upload your e-book and cover.
Lulu distributes its e-books to its site, Lulu.com and Barnes & Noble (Nook) and Apple’s iBookstore. This ensures that it’s your final version that gets to Amazon. It can take quite some time for the book to show up on Amazon. Lulu takes a fee of roughly 10% of royalties.
TIP: To increase the odds that the transfer of your e-book from Lulu to Amazon distribution goes smoothly, retire your previous versions on Lulu and create an entirely new project with your final copy.
CreateSpace, on the other hand, is more like an on-demand printing company. Electronic books have absolutely no publishing rights that can be assigned to them unless you sign a separate contract. Amazon CreateSpace does have fine print regarding rights to your book depending on which of their distribution programs you choose, so know what you’re giving up before proceeding.
Benefits of Amazon CreateSpace:
- Print your book cheaper which means it can list to customers for a lower price.
- Get your book for sale online at Amazon within a short-time once it’s uploaded.
- Great templates to use for your book
- Lots of subset options (Scout, KDP, etc.)
- Print only the number of books that you need
General Self-Publishing Tips
TIP 1: The cover is your first impression. Make it count!
TIP 2: Don’t approve your draft until you have received and reviewed at least your first printed copy. Order your books in small quantities. It may take you several revisions to get your printed copy completely correct and ready for sale.
TIP 3: A randomly assigned ISBN by a company is NOT the same as purchasing your own ISBN or USBN through Bowkers. A company assigned ISBN may mean they still have rights to your book. You can purchase ISBN numbers at MyIdentifiers.
TIP 4: Don’t base your decision simply on the percentage of royalties a company will pay out. Royalty percentages vary greatly with Lulu versus CreateSpace. A higher percentage of royalties is less on a .99 cent book than on a $14.95 book. Do the math.
Hopefully this comparison of Lulu versus CreateSpace has cleared up some confusion regarding the self-publishing process. Other self-publishing software and platforms such as Smashwords, WattPad, Scribd, PubIt, or Booktango.