Saturday, January 16, 2010

CreateSpace versus Lightning Source and other options - Updated May 18, 2011!

(Visit my most recent post on this topic. To read more...)

Thus far in my career as an author my books have been published through Dog Ear Publishing, an Author's Services company (one book) and the rest through Amazon's CreateSpace (eighteen total books).

The very first book I wrote, Game Strategy and Tactics for Basketball, was published through Dog Ear Publishing.  For the most part, I have been very pleased with Dog Ear. They did a great job with the book in its design, editing and cover.  I only get paid quarterly and have to wait until the end of the next quarter to both get paid and find out the total number of books sold.  As I addressed in an earlier post, it is hard to tell if a marketing strategy has worked when you have to wait three to six months to find out the results.

CreateSpace allows you to see the results immediately of sales on Amazon which is great.  You are paid for the previous months sales at the end of the next month.  In other words, you get paid for your July sales at the end of August, but at least you know the total number of books and the exact amount you will earn.

The disadvantage of using CreateSpace is that up until recently, you had to do all of the production work yourself.  Print ready files had to be submitted in order to publish with CreateSpace.  Amazon appears to be moving aggressively into the POD self-publishing market as it has expanded the services offered by CreateSpace by now offering a complete range of author services.

So what are the advantage and disadvantages of using an author services company like Dog Ear or going with CreateSpace. In short, you have to pay for the services that Dog Ear provides, and no, don't call them a vanity press. You are also stuck with a 40% discount if you sell your book on Amazon. I do want to state clearly that the author price to purchase copies of your own book from Dog Ear for resale is one of the best prices that you will find with an author services company. The advantages are Dog Ear does a great job of designing and producing your book.

CreateSpace requires, unless you want to pay for the work to be done by professionals, that you submit ready to print files. CreateSpace has great pricing for author copies if you purchase the pro plan.  You also get a direct conduit for sales on Amazon, but you are stuck once again with the 40% discount.

With a company like Dog Ear, your book is printed by Lightning Source, the largest POD printer in North America, and can be sold anywhere, including bookstores.  Up until recently, your CreateSpace book could only be sold on Amazon, but CreateSpace now has an expanded distribution network option, but you have to grant a large discount in order to take advantage of that option.

I do want to make it clear that I am happy with the results I have gotten by using both companies.  So why am I considering not using either for my next book? I can make more money by truly self-publishing my own book through Lightning Source than I can any other way.  By using Lightning Source, I control the discount that is offered to Amazon and other retailers.  I can set it as low as 20%.

In order to do this, I will have to have ready to print files for Lightning Source and I will have to obtain my own ISBN which is easy to do.  I have already learned how to do both through my experience in using CreateSpace.  I have done a lot of homework and thought about this a great deal.

So, for my next book I am going to take the plunge and truly self-publish the book using Lightning Source as my POD printer.  I will still target the bulk of my sales at Amazon with the rest coming through coaching product retailers that sell to basketball coaches.

If you want to learn more about the POD business model of self-publishing I strongly urge you to obtain Morris Rosenthal's POD Publishing and Aaron Shepard's Aiming at Amazon and his forth coming book, POD for Profit which specifically details how to use Lightning Source.  If you are interested in learning more about using CreateSpace my own book Self-Publishing with Amazon's CreateSpace is a good source of information. You can go to all of these books product pages on Amazon by using the widget on the right hand side of this blog.

I will be posting the details of my experience using Lightning Source in comparison to Dog Ear and CreateSpace as I move through the publishing process with my next book about coaching and playing basketball.

UPDATE! For authors considering using either CreateSpace or Lightning Source and struggling to decide which company best meets their publishing needs, I have a new concise book comparing the two companies.  As much pertinent information as I could gather has been collected and organized to help authors planning to use print-on-demand for printing and distribution to select of the two companies.

The title of the book is Selecting a Print-on-Demand Company: Comparing CreateSpace and Lightning Source for POD Self-Publishing. It is available now as a print book on Amazon for $6.95.