Choosing A Cheap Self Publishing Solution

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.

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 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 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 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 (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 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.

36 thoughts on “Choosing A Cheap Self Publishing Solution

  1. Bryce, are you sure you don’t want to try getting this out for a few agents to look at first? I’d really hate to see you have to invest in publishing and promoting the book yourself, which can be a) a lot of work and b) costly. I think this book’s the equal of any other in it’s genre I’ve read, and think you could get it published by a house. Of course, that’s going to take time, patience and a lot of rejection, but I do believe it’s publishable.

    BUT, if this is the route you’ve chosen and you’re set on it, I want to help. Let me know what I can do to support you and I’m happy to pitch in. Best of luck!

  2. Thanks for the kind words.

    My mind is made up.

    Here’s the plan:

    1) Become an internet author superstar.
    2) Publish my book using createspace, so it shows up on amazon
    3) Work my (by this time) thousands of loyal readers into a book-buying frenzy, taking me to the top of amazon’s charts.
    4) Have hollywood license my creative work for enormous sums of money.

    Only 4 steps left to go…

  3. Your plan is brilliant, Bryce — no arguing that! Oh, and if you don’t know it yet, keeping those four steps in order and manageable is easily done by this really nifty little software package called “List of Six” … get it over on 😉

  4. Well i wish you all the good luck in publishing it and ill buy it if i can couse i cant order it online (im 14 years old and myparents wouldnt give me the money) The book is genious and i enjoyed every second of it. You have any other books i could read couse i need time to fill until the next chapter

  5. Could you upload a blank .odf of a template for using createspace, a base that I can start from?

    And also, to get your createspace work submitted to you need to order, and pay for, a proof copy???

  6. Jack – Yes, after you purchase a review copy of your book, it gets listed in Amazon. There are other ways to do this. You can join the Amazon advantage program for $27 a year and mail them copies of your book (of course, you’ll have to get the printing done somewhere). Or you can go through and drop the $100 bucks for the “global distribution” option. Getting your proof copy shipped to you shouldn’t cost more than $12-$15 total. Or you can get published by a regular publisher and have them do it all.

    Also, It’s fairly simple to set up your document in OpenOffice. A while ago, I found a template for Lulu that would work just as well. Just Google for Lulu template.

  7. Just a quick thought regarding Vanessa’s comment on Jan. 9, 2008:

    I’ve heard nightmare stories about PublishAmerica. You might want to do a web search for reviews on their products and their customer service. Sooooo many bad reviews!

  8. I’m trying to self-publish a 200-page book and 5 audio CDs and am looking for publishing prices per unit for 10, 25, and 50 copies.I would like to publish both book and CDs and package them together as a single unit.If you could send me unit prices for each of the volume, that would be great. Thanks

  9. Did anybody buy publishing software to upload their book on Lulu. I’ve heard Word is terrible at spacing between words but I am wondering if getting the software is mandatory. Claudia.

  10. i want to get published for like cheap. but i think my book is too long and each place cost like $1000….

    1. There is a place called The Book Patch. It pretty sophisticated and yet easy to work. My 235 page book will cost me $6.35 a copy and it goes down from there after 49 copies. So you might only pay $4.80 or so for your 100.

      Check them out @

  11. Hey there,

    I just stumbled across your website and read your article, very very helpful. I have been having some trouble myself about self publishing my book. I am expecting it to be in the ball park area of 200-2050 pages or so…I just want like 100 copies of it with a plane yellow soft cover with the title and my name on it, nothing to fancy. On every website I go to, it ends up costing around $500-$1000+. Is there a website that could offer a better fee but also make it uber easy considering this is my very first novel that can ship to Canada without costing me a fortune. Thanks!

  12. I published with Xlibris. Seems they had a hard time correcting their own mistakes. I sent a error proof manuscript. Then the layout contained no paragraphs. Then rumor had it they and Blondell, Author House were getting my royaltes or money etc. and maybe from other sources as well. They say I sold no books, and niow want around $700.00 to do marketing which I already did on my own.

    1. wow.. I was thinking of going with Xlibris also, but what else do people have to say about them?

      I hate to toss away my meager funds and get even less. I hope I get a response to this

      [edit: I removed the his email to prevent spamming. – Bryce]


  13. is great, cheap and efficient, they have published two of my books. and are now working on the third.

  14. Thanks for the article, I appreciate it. I was wondering how your experience with createspace went and if you have any additional reviews to add to your list.
    much thanks.

  15. I went with “”, which was very easy to design the book, and easy to set your own prices. The catch seems to be the shipping. For a book I set to cost $12 for customers, with shipping ends up being about $20. That’s a lot of shipping costs. I’ll have to check these others out.

  16. Do not go through Publish America! I did. They will own 100% of your book and sell it for way too much. They did a good job, but now it’s untouchable. I have to buy my own book, a 50 page booklet of ghost stories for kids, for $16.99! Very small royalties.

  17. Micropublishing is the leanest, cheapest, and most cost-effective form of publishing. It bypasses cumbersome bookstore sales, with all their shipping, storage, and returns costs, and instead focuses on Amazon and Kindle, where sales are high and costs are low.

    In contrast, virtually all POD and vanity publishers try to imitate traditional publishers, which means they include all those costs. But their sales records are very poor.

    I learned to micropublish by doing my own books. One novel I published on Kindle last year sold 18,000 copies and was a best-seller. It cost me nearly nothing to publish. So I started publishing books for other people using the same methods.

    Michael Grass House is a new micropublisher offering very attractive introductory prices. It’s a one-person operation with lean overhead. Please at least check it out before you spend!

  18. I want to publish one hard cover book that my son wrote, a children’s book to give him as a gift. And I’d like it e-published maybe it would earn some college money. I thought I would use Lulu because it seems has best options. But as far as distribution, I’m not sure which is the best way to go. Any suggestions? Also, I can’t spend a lot of money on this.

  19. I just wanted to respond to the person about Art Book Bindery. It is not worth whatever they would charge you. I am a freelance author, and someone just hired me for a project. In the project description, it said they needed me to format a book for CreateSpace. Normally, this means I take their MSWord document, format it, and turn it into a PDF. Wrong. This person had gone to Art Book Bindery. All she had was a PDF that was not set up for CreateSpace, the images, and the text in three separate files. Because I was not hired to do page layout I did not want to re-set up the pages. So, I had to print out the PDF at Staples, physically cut the pages apart, and rescan all the pages back into the computer. Yeah, it turned out to be a pain. The Art Bindery won’t distribute your book at all. It is basically a vanity press that is parading as a self-publishing helper.

  20. I used Artbookbindery to publish my genealogy book and I was very satisfied with their help and quality of binding and price. I would recommend them to anyone self publishing a book.

  21. Jennifer

    You could have just a) asked Art Bookbindery for the native interior files, or asked them to resize for CS specs. They would gladly do both. 🙂

    Source? I work there 🙂

  22. I’ve worked with several different people who wanted their books published (I did not write the entire ms., nor did I pay for the printing) and each of them was very pleased with Art Book Bindery’s quality, service, and value. ABB personnel were easy to work with and helpful throughout the process. I have heard only positive remarks about ABB’s work.

  23. I’m old.
    Have two novels to publish, but no …….. clue about anything that might bring my work to life.
    I’m old.
    Need a decent company that will not leave me without money for my daily scotch and a weekly box of chicken noodle soup from Costco.
    I’m old.
    Any suggestions? Don’t need editing, translating (this is my eighth language when I’m sober), can spend $299-599 or nothing, because I am ……..old!
    Thank you and prosit!

    1. Lazarus, I’d look into then. It’s pretty easy to use, and you can make your book available for sale on a number of other sites. Or you can sign up for an account on createspace and if you are only interested in getting things on amazon.

  24. Forgive me for this late response to Joy’s 2010 inquiry, but I just stumbled across this forum.

    About Art Bookbindery: Everyone there is incredibly helpful, and the quality of the final product cannot be topped. Bookbinding is an art in and of itself, as is paper making. Art Bookbindery is a self-publishing company that knows and honors this art form. They even know the grains of paper and how it will handle print.

    But, it’s not just the Bookbindery’s quality and competitive pricing (hate that phrase) I want writers to know, it’s the energy and outright graciousness of the people working there that I feel compelled to address.

    Last November, my niece’s husband was dying from stomach cancer. Because of the person Paul was, I wanted to dedicate my book to him. (I didn’t know what else to do; they live across the country.) The people at Art Bookbindery bound a galley copy of the book and sent it to my niece and her husband, before the book went into full production mode. Had they not done that, Paul never would have seen “his book,” When the Camel Sneezed. His nieces read it to him, and, when I saw him at the end of his life, he had enough strength to tell me how he and his nieces loved it — their reading the story to him was a magical moment. This “magic” happened because of Art Bookbindery’s mission and passion to help people create the best of their work and share it.

    I can’t apologize for the sentimental review, because I believe it’s important for people to know that not every business is faceless and cares only about profit.

    They are not a predatory company (look behind the scenes of small presses and who really owns them); they are bookbinding artists with a passion to keep the printed word alive and a mission to help other create their very best.

      1. Thank you. I had sent Michael Schaact and the Art Bookbindery “Family” a letter following Paul’s death and all that they had to done to make his last days filled with color. If you would like me to send you the letter I will.

        My best,

  25. I have publish my two books at Art Bookbindery and intend to take my third book there too. I highly recommend them. Free website and four free posters included with every book order.
    I’m not surprised they sent a galley proof to Paul. They are a very caring company.

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