October 25, 2011

Createspace vs. Lightning Source: Part 2

Total Read Time: 3 minutes

["Open Book" by morvan]

A few months ago, I wrote a post on choosing a print distributor for writers who wanted to self-publish. It ended up being a pros and cons list between the two biggest games in town: Createspace and Lightning Source.

Since that post continues to be one of the most popular, I thought I would write a follow up, now that I’ve actually gone through the print publishing process.

Where I started:

Back when I wrote the original post, I was pretty much set on going with Lightning Source. I love that they have a clearly-defined publisher/distributor relationship with self-published authors, and their distribution network is kick-ass. Plus, authors can decide and control what discount their book is sold at to retailers and whether it’s returnable.

I set up my account and signed all the contracts with the various Lightning Source branches in anticipation of my book release. I did everything but upload my book files and hand over my payment. (Which in hindsight, was a good thing.)

Then, I stumbled across a blog post by Aaron Shepard that made me rethink everything.

What changed my mind:

It seems Amazon has quietly been allowing their stock of Lightning Source published titles sell down without reordering. As a result, many Lightning Source titles are now being listed as ‘Available in 1-3 weeks’. Clearly, Amazon wants to give preference to their own self-publishing platform, Createspace.

Not having your book available on Amazon for immediate processing and delivery is pretty huge, and probably results in lost sales. So after a few days of agonizing indecision, I sucked it up and decided to go with Createspace instead, even though my royalty payout will be less and I have limited control over my title.

Where I’m at now:

I have to say, signing up with Createspace was much easier than all the hoops I had to jump through with Lightning Source. Their platform is easy to navigate and understand. I also like that I don’t have to pay each time I upload my book document, in case I make a mistake. With Lightning Source, it’s $75 a pop.

So far, I’ve signed up for Createspace's Pro Plan ($39), so I can earn better royalties, and pay less for copies of my book, but I’m only selling on The royalty payouts on the Extended Plan (which gets you listed with other retailers, such as Barnes & Noble), is absolutely horrible. I would have to really overprice to make any money. I’ve decided not to activate it.

In addition to selling on, I’m planning on selling copies of my book directly on my blog using Paypal to anyone who is interested. This way, I can sign the books before sending them out, plus I will earn a much better royalty.

While I could also go back to Lightning Source and sell my book through them as well as Createspace to increase my availability, I just don’t feel like that’s something I want to get into right now. I want to have a print book option available, but I know more people are willing to take a chance on a new/indie author in ebook format, where they don’t have to pay as much.

Who knows? I may come back to the Lightning Source option down the road. I guess we’ll see how it goes.

Have you used either Createspace or Lightning Source? How is it working for you?