StoryHack

Bryce A Beattie's website blog thing

Choosing A Cheap Self Publishing Solution

2008-01-08

As many of you know, unless something really strange happens (like a publishing contract falling from the sky) I’ll be self-publishing Oasis after I get it done and clean it up a little. Because I don’t have extra money to burn, I’m limiting my self-publishing choices to printers that do not require any setup fees. Here’s what I’ve been looking at.

You can set up a book for free at each of the following places, you just pay each time you want a copy. They’ll also sell the book for you. (as in take payment and print and send it to your customer) SO, yeah they’re all print-on-demand places.

Wordclay.com

I hadn’t heard of this one before I started googling around for print-on-demand places.

Cost: I couldn’t find this plainly listed anywhere (maybe I’m a dork), so I used their cost calculator and my mad high school algebra skilz to figure out the prices. So I figure it costs about $4.35 as a base price and $0.021 per page.

Pros: There is a nice little cover wizard. In fact, it’s a fairly painless process to set up a book altogether. There are also discounts for bulk orders (as I could figure it – 10% off for 100+, 20% for 1,000+, and 30% off for 10,000+ copies)

Cons: Requires you to upload in Word .doc format. I don’t use Word, and I make use of some stuff in OpenOffice.org that doesn’t export well to Word. I couldn’t see a way to upload custom covers. It may have one, though. Correct me if I’m wrong. Also, I tried to go back in recently to make sure I had this all correct. I forgot my user name, and when I tried to use the automatic user name recovery thing, it gave me an error, which bummed me out.

Lulu.com

Lulu is the most established and easiest to use POD (print on demand) solution I’ve found. I’ve used it a few times in my day job, and to give my dad a hardcover copy of the book he wrote several years ago, but never got published. It will take Word .doc files, Excel files, wordperfect files, pdfs, MS Works files, and rtf files. I use openoffice to generate pdfs, so I’m set.

Cost: $4.53 + $0.02 / Page

Other Fees: Their royalty is 25% of spread between printing costs and the retail price, which you set.

Pros: Good cover wizard, you can use their templates, upload your own front and back covers, or upload your own custom wraparound cover. You can upload in many formats. There are a lot of different projects you can make, and I think the interface is very friendly.

Cons: If you want your book to be available in Amazon, or through Barnes & Noble, or through really any major bookseller, you’ll need to pay the worldwide distribution fee (currently $99). And that still isn’t a guarantee you’ll be included anywhere.

CreateSpace.com

CreateSpace is owned and operated by Amazon.

POD Cost: $3.15 + $0.02 / page

Other Fees: 20% of spread between printing costs and the retail price, which you set. 30% when your book is sold through Amazon.

Pros: Automatic inclusion into Amazon.com (You have to order and approve a proof copy first). You also get a free ISBN for your book (The little 11 or 13 digit number� every “real” published book has) You can get a bulk discount, too. 10% off for 50-99 copies, and 20% off for 100+.

Cons: You need to create a print ready pdf for the interior and cover by yourself. THis isn’t too difficult If you know what you’re doing, but for non-techie users, it can be a deal-stopper. It does automatically generate a cover template for you, though, so that’s a little helpful. A cover wizard would be better. And to produce a print ready pdf with OpeOffice is easy, just click the export to pdf button and you’re done. For most versions of Word (I’m not sure about the newest one), you’ll have to install a pdf distiller (Works like a printer, except you save the printed file as a pdf, rather than pick it up off your printer.)� The full Adobe Acrobat can be pricey, but there are several free pdf distillers out there. (see PrimoPDF and CutePDF)

In Conclusion

For non-techie users, I’d definitely suggest Lulu.com over the others, it’s easy to use. If you are capable of making cover graphics and making pdfs, I’d suggest CreateSpace.

I’ll be going with CreateSpace for Oasis.

Edit: I’ve since written a more in depth article detailing the differences between Lulu and CreateSpace.

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