Self Publishing: More Thoughts

After all my research, there stands a  75% chance that I will self-publish A Path of Stones and The Fires of Tallenburgh Hall. Availability to the reader and total artistic control are just too tempting. Dana Kaye makes marketing look like something even this introverted hermit can do. So, why not.

Of the major self-publishing companies in the business, I’m considering splitting the job, and giving the ebook and paperback to CreateSpace (Amazon) and the hardback to Lulu. Now, that may raise some questions in your mind about ethics, as well as the obvious one of why split the job between two rivals? Let me answer the first part first.

In self-publishing, the writer is the publisher of record. The company producing the book is the printer. Read those two sentences again. Let them soak into your mind. That is critical.

It isn’t true if the writer publishes through Traditional Publishing, and the book is handled by Putnam or Tor. In that case, Putnam and Tor are the publisher of record. The term publisher of record is critical. The publisher of record is the one who controls the book’s ISBN. Now, with both CreateSpace and Lulu, the writer can get free ISBNs from the companies, in which case CreateSpace or Lulu are the publishers of record. I’m not doing that. If I self-publish, I will buy my own ISBN numbers (99 dollars per number, and each title will need three; one for the hardback, one for the paperback, and a third for the ebook). I will also, eventually, file as a LLC, to add extra rights protection to my books. It helps that my wife works for a law firm specializing in contract law.

That seems like a lot of work, but it boils down to this: the ISBN stays with the publisher. If CreateSpace owns it, and I decide in 2017 that IngramSpark is superior (a real possibility if Ingram plays its cards right), they keep the number and I have to get a new one. But if I own it, it stays with me and the title, and can move from company to company. In the scenario I described, I am the publisher and CreateSpace and Lulu are the printers, and it is perfectly ethical to hire the best printer for the job.

Why split them? Simply because CreateSpace does not have a hardback option. Let me rephrase that. It does have a hardback option, but it is for the author only, and it is expensive.

A hardback option only makes sense. Ebook sales have topped off at 35% of readership. The remaining 65% opt for print books. There are snobs like me who prefer the longevity of the hardback. Not only that, but the ebook has launched a renaissance of hardbacks. Many people fall in love with an ebook and want a permanent copy. They bypass the paperback and go for the hardback. I want to make that option available to them.

At the moment, there are three companies (that I know) who print hardbacks: Lulu, Blurb, and Lightning Source. I dismissed Lightning Source immediately as too Byzantine, although their subsidiary IngramSpark may change that, if it is expanded. Blurb is best for artists and photographers. In fact, it was set up by an artist to print portfolios. However, Blurb only distributes through its website store. Lulu distributes through its store, and can be found through Barnes and Noble and Amazon. Not only that, but I have experience with Lulu.

I’ve published five books through Lulu, the last was a hardback. For the first, a memoir about my parents, I expected sloppy printing and a spine that broke half way through the first printing. Nope. That book was bookstore quality. The print was laser printed, but it didn’t show signs of pixelation. As for the hardback, it is traditional stitched and glued.  I am confident that Lulu can handle the Aura Lockhaven books.

I apologize for the fuzziness of the images, but here are some photos I just took of the hardback.




And from what others have said, CreateSpace can handle the ebook and paperback with aplomb.

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