There are many ways of publishing your book:
• Subsidy POD
• POD printing
• Offset with a printing company
• Making and printing your own
Before deciding on how to publish your book, defining need comes first. Here are some guidelines:
• To test the market and get reviews, use a low-cost front-end subsidy, i.e., Lulu, CreateSpace.
• For direct selling, wider distribution and assistance with many aspects of publishing, go with a user friendly POD subsidy, i.e., Aventine, Dragon.
• For multiple books, wide distribution, and willingness to take on formatting, design, business aspects, become a publisher and go directly to a POD print company, i.e., Lightning Source.
• For bulk, low-cost books that are primarily distributed by you, go offset.
• For short-run niche/untraditional books, design and print your own.
Publishing Option: Lulu. Lulu started out as a technology company. Years ago, when I first visited the site, it was extremely difficult to navigate. Times have changed. Writers have been flocking to Lulu for a lot of reasons. Advantages: Should you not wish to use an ISBN number or have distribution, the cost of printing a book is nominal. With an ISBN and distribution, the cost runs anywhere from $100 to $150. Books can be given a Lulu ISBN or, for an additional fee, an ISBN for your imprint. Distribution is not restricted to Lulu and books can be sold on Amazon, Barnes and Noble and other online venues. User-friendly, Lulu accepts different formats for manuscript submission. Proof copies are available. Books can be sold in Lulu’s store for sizeable profit. Disadvantages: At this time, author copies have a higher unit price than CreateSpace, Lightning Source and some subsidies, i.e., Aventine Press. Manuscript and cover is author-designed and formatted. Profits from books sold on Amazon take a hit.
Publishing Option: CreateSpace. CreateSpace is an Amazon subsidy that publishes books with no or little upfront costs: Standard Plan and Pro Plan, respectively. Advantages: an ISBN number is provided; author copies can be purchased at a cost configured from the printing expense; a twenty percent royalty is paid on cover price not sale price; a proof copy (nominal cost) is available prior to publication; returns are accepted. Disadvantages: their books are only available on Amazon; all pre-publication tasks: editing, cover design/layout, manuscript formatting, must be undertaken by the author; submissions must be in PDF format.
Publishing Option: High-cost up-front subsidies are those companies that provide one-stop publishing services, i.e., formatting the manuscript, designing the cover, sending the manuscript to the printer, providing distribution streams. Add-on services can include editing, marketing and website design. Contracts with subsidy publishers vary greatly. The ideal subsidy contract will allow you to: maintain all rights (nonexclusive); set the cover price; have a royalty rate of 80% or better on net sales; have input into the size of the book and number of pages; cancel at any time with no stipulations; have your book distributed and available to selling outlets; purchase author copies that are priced from printing costs; not incur any yearly maintenance fees. Advantages: Little knowledge of computers or technology is needed. Depending on the company, support is provided at every step. Distribution is included. Disadvantages: Can be costly in set-up, royalties and author copies.
Publishing Option: Lightning Source. Lightning Source is the company that prints POD books for the publishing industry. They only service publishers, not individual writers. However, should an author become a publisher, he can access the benefits of Lightning Source. So how does a writer become a publisher? By having a bank of ISBN numbers (at this time, ten numbers cost around $300) in his publishing company’s name. That’s all. Of course that just gets you in the door. Besides the cost of ISBNs, software to convert final documents and covers into PDF files are needed. If you choose to incorporate that’s an additional expense. Still, these expenses buy a ton of freedom and control. Advantages: The cost to publish is nominal. Author copies are price without any middleman charges. Distribution is worldwide. Trade discount is at your discretion. There are no royalty splits. Disadvantages: No handholding. A writer/publisher must take on every aspect of writing, publishing, marketing plus stay current with those changes that affect the process.
Publishing Option: Offset printing. Offset printing is publishing bulk book orders by going to a book printing company where the book is published using an offset printer. Advantages: the lowest unit cost per book; little technical knowledge other than following the submission guidelines; depending on the company, some frills – provision of ISBN and/or editing services – can be ordered with publication. Disadvantages: high start up cost due to the number of books that must be initially ordered; book storage issues; no built-in distribution; edits can only be made on new bulk orders; not all printers print books; printing company may not be local.
Publishing Option: Make and print your own. I’ve seen many creative books that are either homemade or sent to the local printer to be copied and bound. Some examples: a plastic-comb bound cookbook with regional recipes, a calendar-style pictorial book on the Erie Canal, poetry books folded portrait length and stapled. When done well and with the proper audience, these books can be produced inexpensively and sold for significant profit. Since these books rarely have ISBNs, make sure contact information is placed on the cover.
No matter the budget or your tech knowledge, publishing your book is always an option.