N. Gemini Sasson, who writes historical fiction, is the author of The Crown in the Heather, The Bruce Trilogy: Book I, published on June 1, 2010. I've known Gemi for a few years now through online critique groups, and from the start, I knew she was an amazingly gifted, naturally talented writer.
Gemi: "I went with Lightning Source, which allowed me access to Ingram’s distribution channels and online worldwide sales through Amazon. The set-up cost per title is slightly higher than if using CreateSpace, but if enough copies are sold, then using Lightning Source actually yields a higher profit per book sold. My biggest investment was in purchasing a block of ten ISBNs for $250, but I knew I was very likely going to release more than one title, and each in multiple formats. It can seem a little intimidating as an independent author to work through Lightning Source at first, but whenever I had a question they were always very courteous and professional."
Michelle Gregory, a fantasy writer, is the author of Eldala, which was published in 2007. Michelle's a prolific blogger, whose warmth and sense of humor always comes across in her posts.
Michelle: "I used Lulu.com. At first, it was because my husband suggested Lulu, thinking I might want to have one copy printed just to show I’d written a novel. But as I told more and more people I was writing, they all showed interest, and then I realized I would need to go with a good POD company. I did a lot of research about PODs and ended up with Lulu because I decided it would be the best fit, based on the ability to pick and choose their services. Also, their prices for the ISBNs and their commission from sales seemed reasonable."
Peter Johnson, who also writes historical fiction, is the author of Grant’s Indian, which was published in 2009 in paperback, on audiobook and for Kindle. When Gemi interviewed Peter earlier in the spring for the Historical Novel Reviews blog, she raved about his writing.
Peter: "I used CreateSpace because it is Amazon’s DIY service. Amazon owns audible.com, the publisher of the audiobook version of the novel. I wanted an integrated Amazon page that would link the print and audio versions. I suppose I could have done this using a different DIY service, but using CreateSpace seemed most practical. For the audiobook, I considered DIY, but that would have involved podcasting or some other technology I’m not happy with. As it happened, once I narrated the recording and had it professionally mastered, audible.com accepted it for publication as part of their own list, so the audiobook isn’t really an example of DIY publishing (just DIY recording)."
Kristina Emmons, is the author of Roeing Oaks, also historical fiction, which was published in 2009. I had the pleasure of reading and reviewing her book, and after eagerly sharing my praise, we struck up a friendship.
Kristina: "I used Lulu.com. I was looking at using a traditional publisher but found that Lulu was a better fit because I wouldn’t need a lot of money upfront or have to worry about what to do with boxes and boxes of inventory. Lulu is print on demand; there is no minimum order, so you can print one copy if you like, or hundreds. I especially like that I can go to my account to find a spreadsheet that tracks the number of books I’ve sold and how much profit I’ve made. Lulu charges a printing cost per book, which goes down with larger orders, and from there it’s up to me to set the price per book. They do take a percentage off the top of each sale as well, but in the end I am still able to make a fair profit per book.
I like that my customers can order directly from Lulu.com. This means I don’t have to go through a separate web channel to sell my material, which would cost me extra money. Lulu also has an e-book feature and a customizable product page where you can list your products. Lulu also offers services like professional cover design, professional editing, and marketing packages. I ordered promotional materials but I wasn’t happy with them.
There are helpful tutorials on the site for formatting and uploading your files. You can upload a refreshed file at any time if, for instance, you’ve had to make spelling corrections to your work, and that has been so helpful. The downside to Lulu is that shipping costs will be high on small orders.
One thing to be aware of is your ISBN number. You can independently file for your own ISBN so that you are the listed publisher, or you can use an ISBN issued by Lulu, which makes Lulu the publisher. It is more expensive to go about it independently, and Lulu will help you use alternative channels to sell your work if you use a Lulu ISBN, but remember that if you are ever offered a contract in the future by a large publishing entity, being your own publisher means that you are free to do what you want with your work without any legal hassles getting in the way. You have all the rights to it. I’m not sure if Lulu still offers this option, but I chose to independently file."
CreateSpace, a subsidiary of Amazon to publish my historical, On Falcon's Wings in paperback, and Amazon DTP (Digital Text Platform) for the Kindle version, both available in the summer of 2010.
After nearly two months of comparing Lulu, Lightning Source, and CreateSpace, I decided on the latter for a variety of reasons. Amazon's status as the predominant, online bookseller and the development of its Kindle technology immediately made its CreateSpace subsidiary a suitable option. I knew I didn't want to publish only an e-book or just a Kindle version. I wanted to hold a paperback copy of my book in my hands, and Amazon allowed me to offer both. I
Thank you, Gemi, Michelle, Peter and Kristina for sharing your thoughts on DIY. Each of them brings varied approaches and reasoning to the process that I hope blog readers will find helpful. If you're considering DIY, please research all your options, and the benefits and disadvantages of the varying routes to publication before making a decision. This is a commitment to your future as a writer. Isn't it worth the same thought and dedication as your writing?
Please share your thoughts and comments on today's post. In particular, are you a self-published writer or considering non-traditional publishing routes? Also, as a reader, what is your perception of self-published books?