Your experience of Lulu and POD publishing

Wednesday 20th May 2009 03:40pm 1
Harry
Harry
258 Posts
This is a general thread inviting those with experience of Lulu or other POD publishers to comment on their experience. POD means Print On Demand, and it's essentially a technology that enables publishers to print very small runs of individual titles. It's relatively expensive per title produced, so it's not a way to sell shedloads, but for books that are (say) intended for distribution to family members, then POD can be ideal.

But enough of me. What about you? This thread invites you to share your experience of Lulu or any other POD publisher. If you want to ask questions about it, then here'd be a good place to do so ...
Friday 22nd May 2009 11:30pm 2
Martyn
Martyn
33 Posts

Having self-published 5 books with Lulu now, I have been really pleased that I did. Of course I never went with them expecting to sell more than a handful of copies per year but one of its advantages is the quick turn around to press. Provided a writer is prepared to do all the formatting, editing and proofreading themselves, sometimes with professional help, the results can still be good. Though Lulu's site can be confusing and takes time to get used to, it is quick and efficient as long as you follow their rules carefully. Another great advantage is the ability to have your book printed exactly as you want it (in my case I went for 1.5 line spacing for ease of reading and slightly larger font). Additionally, you can have exactly what you have written in print for family and friends, and unlike trad publshers an author can genuinely feel that they have been responsible for 100% of their creation. One of my books was on Amazon with an ISBN within a month of finishing it. One disadavantage is Lulu's shipping costs, which are high - £7.30 for a paperback to the UK if you want a 3 or 4 day service. The retail mark-up for Amazon is high too, giving tiny royalties, which they call creator revenues, so no one should expect to make more than about 50p per copy that way. Buying direct from Lulu for potential customers is of course prohibitive because of the shipping costs, though the writer can make around £3 on a £10 book. Lulu is cheap and cheerful; £79.99 initally bought me 10 ISBNs with another £15 per any further book written. Additionally, for each book, a proof copy has to be purchased. Averaging it out, each of my 5 books cost less than £40 to produce. For anyone thinking of self-publishing I can thoroughly recommend Lulu, particularly if they don't have high ambitions for sales, but just enjoy writing and want to enable even just a few people to be able to read their work as quickly as possible. Martyn

Sunday 24th May 2009 06:11pm 3
Lizzy
Lizzy
391 Posts
I don't like the idea of doing my own editing and spelling etc. I am notoriously bad at editing my own work and would hate the idea of having something published that was less than perfect. Seems very expensive too!
Sunday 24th May 2009 08:04pm 4
Martyn
Martyn
33 Posts

The £40, Lizzie, is a once only payment and the 5 books are separate creations! It is the cheapest POD publisher around; some charge into the thousands for a book and most several hundred. The manufacturing cost, with which you may be confusing the initial outlay, is around £5 to £6 per 200-250 page book.

Monday 25th May 2009 03:28pm 5
Lizzy
Lizzy
391 Posts
OK thanks Martyn. Will have a look at the sight to see what I think.
Wednesday 10th June 2009 02:31pm 6
Bren
Bren
134 Posts
I am trying to use the site now but it is confusing. Well, I find it so. I have tried again and again and it is so scary choosing that final size and shape etc...but I suppose I can venture and then retry if not happy. I need Martyn here in my study to set it up for me.
I think it is great to have done 5 books. At least they are books and someone gets to read it and you can then get on with another.
Some places do edit for you at a cost.
Best
Bren
Friday 12th June 2009 01:29pm 7
Harry
Harry
258 Posts
The WW can offer editorial advice and/or copyediting. But these things are fairly expensive, inevitably, so it's all a question of what you're after.
Friday 3rd July 2009 09:39am 8
Roger in Deutschland
Roger in Deutschland
15 Posts
For what it's worth, I've used Lulu for two novels now and have been pleased with the results. The website is complex rather than confusing (just take your time and use the help email system if necessary) but then the task is not entirely straight-forward and you shouldn't expect to do everything in a few minutes. Before even starting with Lulu, you need to decide on a size, format and font; Lulu will only take certain fonts (use TNR or Garamond). Then you need to modify your MS into this format; things like chapters starting on odd numbered pages, correct guttering for odd and even pages, drop font for the first character, headers and page numbering, etc. Lulu gives you all this information and a checklist. Now you're ready to go.

The process of uploading is straight-forward but worried me initially because I was concerned about errors. Don't panic! You can replace in a hundred times if you want to and you're not committed to printing anything. After uploading, you can download the PDF that Lulu has created from your MS and can check it at your leisure before committing to anything further. A word of warning.....there will always be one or two errors but you only find them when you've printed 50 copies......

My first effort on Lulu took around 2 hours. Now I can upload revised MSs in a few minutes. Read their advice and do the homework before starting on the website and you'll be fine.

The cover artwork wizard is good and there's a good choice of templates. I made my own using photoshop, but it's not necessary. At the moment I think ISBNs are free; I have never paid for any. When you get a chance to order a proof copy of your book for checking, you can actually order as many as you want and this stage is relatively cheap, although the P&P is high for a single copy. What I have done is to order 4, check for mistakes, revise the MS then order 50; ordering 25 or more gives big discounts. The cost of a typical A5 circa 300 page novel is around 8 euros, so, selling for 10 euros, don't expect to make any money; that's not what it's about. The same novel when ordered by the public is 20 euros (and you can't contr0l the price), so don't expect many sales there! The benefit of Lulu, as Harry says, is that you get exactly what it says on the tin. It's a great way to have your book in print and in the hands of friends and customers. It will cost you but it's value for money. You won't make any money from it but you will get a nice rosy feeling. So, overall, try it, but remember that it's no substitute for getting a real publishing deal.

Best of luck!
Roger
Tuesday 7th July 2009 09:07pm 9
Greg_Sky
Greg_Sky
9 Posts
Have published more than 50 books (under various names) through lulu and tthey are very suitable for my purposes. I like that they email mne everyday now with the total sales for the previous day. I've been with them 4 years and that is a recent development. They are always trying to improve which, from a publishing point of view, is a good thing. The cover wizard for example is a new development as well and make sit easier.
Thursday 11th February 2010 08:07am 10
Steve
Steve
442 Posts
I have found an excellent blog that goes into cost detail when comparing Lulu with CreateSpace. I was convinced that CreateSpace would be for me until the blog writer (April L Hamilton) responded to my specific query - promptly - pointing out that despite the Amazon affiliation, CreateSpace is not a good option for international distribution.

The Blog and thread provide excellent information for North Americans, but for UK writer/publishers, April has suggested LightningSource, which I will look into and report back on.

The blog+thread verdict appears to be:
CreateSpace for American-based writer/publishers who want to sell only in America.
Lulu for any other circumstances/requirements.

If anyone has any experience with LightningSource, I would be very interested to hear about it.

http://aprillhamilton.blogspot.com/2009/03/lulu-vs-createspace-which-is-more.html
www.lightningsource.com/
Saturday 13th February 2010 04:57pm 11
Wrenstales
Wrenstales
22 Posts
has anyone tried Blurb, a friend of mine gave me the address. I have looked at it, and have thought about using Blurb. I would like to use Lulu but I don't know about the cost, as I read in the instructions that when you have approved your book you have to add a publishing pack and thepublishing packs I have read are expensive, but blurb they giove you a percentage of each book sold.
Saturday 13th February 2010 09:50pm 12
Steve
Steve
442 Posts
I have a friend who has used Blurb to print a glossy colour book of his travels as a one-off for his wife. It was about £40 for one copy (hard back), no ISBNs or barcodes. He was happy with quality, and it is available to purchase through the site (he gets a small percentage if anyone else buys). However, if you are looking to turn a profit through multiple sales of a paperback novel for example, the margins are not in your favour.

Comparison is a tough slog. What we need is a compare-the-market-for-self-publishing.com site that breaks-down all the hidden costs that aren't stipulated until further on in the process. The various packages each POD publisher promotes up front are NOT the final price paid. There are simply too many bolt-on variables to be able to recommend one site over another in a generalistic way. Everything depends on exactly what each of us wants/requires.

Not the answer you were hoping for, I'm sure,
Steve.
Tuesday 23rd February 2010 05:57pm 13
EmmaD
EmmaD
662 Posts
I read a piece in one of the serious photography magazines (i.e. not one of the ones only obsessed by the size of either the photographer or the model's - um - equipment) by a semi-pro who used Blurb to publish a book of his work. As a photographer he was naturally extremely picky about the quality, and also about how much control he had over the design and production, and he was very pleased with it all. He was looking to at least cover his costs, though I should imagine not costing his time, and as I recall he felt it had been worth it. And certainly the examples in the article looked good. It was done as a 'How-to' article, so I suppose it could have been mildly promotional for Blurb, but it didn't feel like that, because most of the discussion was about the broader issues of how you do it.

"What we need is a compare-the-market-for-self-publishing.com site that breaks-down all the hidden costs that aren't stipulated until further on in the process. "

Like those utilities comparison sites? Though I bet some of the ones which are vanity presses in disguise would be pretty coy about their charges. At least with something like Lulu, in theory you can work out exactly what you're letting yourself in for.

Emma
Wednesday 24th February 2010 01:15am 14
Steve
Steve
442 Posts
Yes, that's the badger. Or one of many, rather. I think that there is now room in the market for a comparison website of comparison websites.

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