C h a z z W r i t e s . c o m

The publishing revolution already happened.

The sorts of people a writer needs

"A quick-moving plot with lots of surprises and a clear-eyed examination of addiction."

“A quick-moving plot with lots of surprises and a clear-eyed examination of addiction.”

I used to have this fantasy about being a writer: I’d take vengeance on all my enemies through a thin veil. (Did that and continue to do so. Ha! Take that, Norman!) I’d make serious money. (Not yet. Working on it. So far, it’s just cartoon money.) And finally, instead of an acknowledgments page I’d have a “Ha! Told you so! Page”. I wanted to say I did it all on my own. I believed what Hitchcock said about film: A writer needs a pen, a painter a brush and a director, an army.” He was wrong. We write in solitude, but it takes an army to get it produced, pretty and read. Here, in no particular order, are my four-star generals and uber-admirals:

1. Kit Foster of KitFosterDesign.com. He’s a graphic artist who is really good for indie authors (and trad authors, too). His book covers are great, but it’s his patience and determination to get it right that compel me to promote him at every opportunity.

2. Mark Young of MondaysAreMeatless.blogspot.ca. Mark is the fellow writer who read a twist in Higher Than Jesus and said, “I don’t buy it. Try again.” He’s the one who told me I was being too coy about the major sex scene. He also tells me what’s working so his edits and suggestions aren’t a moving target. Mark’s input has helped me make better books.

3. Brian Wright is one of my beta readers. When he came back with comments on Bigger Than Jesus, we talked for three hours and he gave me an idea for the most clever murder ever in Higher Than. It’s fun to know weapons and explosives experts. It’s scary what he knows…stuff people aren’t supposed to know.

4. Eden Baylee. Eden is an erotica writer who got me involved in the campaign to help Joshua, a young man with leukaemia, early this year. By participating in the campaign, I met a lot more great people. We helped Joshua (his father is the great Maxwell Cynn, author of Cybergrrl) and Eden is very supportive of my work, encouraging likes and follows and even interviewing me on her blog. (Fun interview. I was too honest. It’s NSFW.) Check out Eden’s books here. 

5. I wanted a radio show to reach out to strangers worldwide. Dave Jackson at the School of Podcasting helped me with my author website and got my podcast, All That Chazz, up and running.

6. She Who Must Be Obeyed. She makes Me at My Desk possible. That’s especially good because Me in the Real World doesn’t work so well. Plus she’s hot and right about everything. Can’t complain. 

7. Jeff Bennington, author of Reunion. Jeff was an ally early on. He designed my first book, Self-help for Stoners, in print and has given me a couple of great cover blurbs. I always make sure to read his informative and encouraging updates on The Writing Bomb. A good guy to know.

8. Armand Rosamilia, zombie master and author of many, many booksArmand’s made it clear he’s a fan of this blog and he gave me a great cover blurb for Write Your Book: Aspire to Inspire. But there’s another reason I like Armand: He’s got a professional writer’s work and word count ethic to emulate. He doesn’t know it (until now) but he’s one to watch because he’s a pacer and regularly posts his progress on his blog. If you can keep up with Armand, you’re writing plenty.

9. Claude Bouchard, author of Vigilante. I’m pathologically shy about asking for cover blurbs. When I approached Claude, he couldn’t have been more friendly. He read, reviewed and ended up blurbing Bigger Than Jesus. He treats fellow writers as part of a community and he also took the time to teach me a few things about Amazon listings and building a following.

10. You. If you read this blog, buy my books, review my books or listen to my podcast, I appreciate it. You’re in the army now (for Art’s sake). Thank you for your service.

Filed under: publishing, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Author Blog Challenge 23: Free sex and the value of an ebook

GET BIGGER THAN JESUS

Why should he pay for the cow when he can get the milk for free? If you’re unfamiliar with this distasteful euphemism, it’s meant to control and shame women so they defy their biological needs and get married too young to the first doofus* who comes along so they won’t risk being called sluts by a repressed and repressive patriarchy and said patriarchy’s agents. It’s the same misogyny behind, “For birth control, hold an aspirin between your knees,” and “Good cowgirls keep their calves together!” It’s kind of funny the first time you hear it. Then you realize it’s a power grab meant to squelch the joys of life and your humanness. (I do love a breakdown of social constructs so the deviant subtext in revealed.) What, you ask, does that have to do with ebooks? Everything.

Yesterday began a little after 5 a.m. It continued until 3 a.m. I hasten to add there were distractions. I did stop to shower and eat. There’s a shower hose over my desk chair by the IV pole. The IV bags are full of double espresso. The desk chair is a toilet. It’s like the helpful chairs in WALL-e, before that evil little robot screwed everything up for everybody and made them get up and move around outside. Mostly, I formatted my new book. For all the work, I wonder if people will buy it when they can have it for free?

Crack the Indie Author Code: Aspire to Inspire (by Robert Chazz Chute, coming in early July!) is a book based on the best of this blog. I’m creeping up on 1,000 posts and I thought it was time I made something more concrete of it. It’ll be my favorite posts in one convenient, pithy, humorous, inspirational package. I’m editing again and updating as I go, of course. At over 90,000 words, it will be my comprehensive take on what the newbie needs to know and what the self-publishing veterans’ choir likes to sing. I wrote a note in the front matter about who the book is for. I made sure to say: Hey, if you want the milk for free, feel free to sift through the blog. ChazzWrites is free. All the podcasts at AllThatChazz are free, too. Everything I sell is so close to free in price, you’d tip the pizza guy what you’d pay for my books. Enjoy! I give freely, without remorse or hesitation or hard feelings. Surprising, because, as a cheap writer who can pinch a Canadian quarter until the moose screams (that’s “eagle screams” if you’re in the United States), I’m actually a terrible tipper.

There is a lot of information that’s free on the Internet so I try to keep ChazzWrites.com fresh and a little different — even contrarian. I think I convey that information with a certain flair, but my hairdresser thinks he’s funny, too. Meanwhile, I just wish he’d never learned to speak english. I’m not going deep  into ever-changing information, either. Crack the Indie Author Code isn’t about the latest marketing theory for self-publishing. It’s evergreen stuff — old-fashioned from a new angle —  about writing craft as seen through my lens and as told to any writer who is more eager for cozy inspiration than ebook marketing advice. (With the changes at Amazon, a lot of marketing theory is still up in the air, but if you want a solid marketing book that’s user-friendly, buy my friend Jeff Bennington’s book, The Indie Author’s Guide to the Universe and check his site for updates.)

Since my new book is hidden right here within nigh 1,000 posts, why buy it to put it on your e-reader? What’s the unique selling point? What’s the value to the customer? I’d say: ease of use; improved readability; improved searchability; updates; new content; improved content; my moral support and your grasping consumerism. I make better jokes as I make another pass at the content, too.

As I go through Crack the Indie Author Code, I can see how some of my ideas have changed over time. When I started this blog, I talked a lot more about craft and writing mechanics. Self-publishing needed more cheerleaders then.  Now we need more leaders. Early on there was more, “Rah! Rah! Rah! Those guys in trad pub don’t get it and don’t see what’s coming!” I omitted some of those posts even though I was right. They were appropriate at the time, but it’s time to mature (the jokes are still less than mature.) Self-publishing’s next step is simply to call it publishing. We need to get past hang-ups about trad versus indie. Yes, of course, there’s still value in traditional publishing. It’s not going away. It’s just changing radically. The new paradigm is not necessarily either/or. Depending on business cases, multiple variables and your temperament, you may choose to do both and only the terminally crank y will fault you. Meanwhile, successful revolutions establish regimes.

But, will anyone bother to buy another writing book? Don’t we have enough?  The broad answer is, can you get enough of whatever your passion is? More particular to my writing book, those who like my flavor will buy it. Those who won’t, won’t.  That’s all beside the point, anyway. I know it’s a business, but I don’t write for you because I can’t anticipate all your  variables and idiosyncrasies. I can only write to my taste. I write for your adulation, sure, but first, I write to entertain myself. I’m hoping you’ll say, “Oh, Chazz, how clever you are! I’ll buy umpteen copies for all my friends!” But before you ever get a chance to evaluate, that’s me sitting at my keyboard enjoying the dopamine trickling and tickling my neo-cortex. That’s me saying, “Oh, Chazz, how clever you are!” We write for ourselves first, not the reader. The act of writing is primary, sometimes even primal. The point is to form the thoughts, think through your typing fingers and transcend the blank page until you’re high on the creative rush.

Will Free beat out $3.99 in the cost-benefit analysis? No. You’ll buy my cow for convenience or for other variables, not least of which is, to have and to hold. And, to answer the ugly metaphor that began this piece? Most  people enjoy free premarital sex and yet most people still marry (some to dark and very costly ends.) At $3.99, the risk is microscopic compared to marrying someone.

To win your $3.99, I just have to create something I’ll love.

If you’re of the same mind, I have a sale.

Back to the espresso drip. I’m off to make that dopamine gush!

* Generalizations aren’t fair. Sometimes the first doofus is the right doofus, but most people these days test out several to many doofuses before selecting the one doofus they can love (and be most angry at without opting for murder) for the length of their marriage and possibly the rest of their lives.

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The mistake I made with my book cover (and how I fixed it)

Here's the new cover design for my novella. The graphic designer is Kit Foster of kitfosterdesign.com. IF YOU CAN'T SEE THIS IMAGE IN YOUR BROWSER, you can get the new cover image here: https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/83426

The Dangerous Kind is a top-notch, heart-wrenching novella of suspense (and I don’t just say so myself). Happy with the guts of the story, I put a bad cover on a good book. My reasoning at the time was that I didn’t want to spend money on any book that wasn’t a full-length work. I priced The Dangerous Kind at just 99 cents to introduce my flavor  to new readers. I did not consider that you can’t sell a gorgeous mansion if the front of the house looks condemned.

I created the first cover for my novella using picnik and morguefiles.com. I’m actually happy with some of the short story ebook covers I created, but with The Dangerous Kind? I made a mistake. The original cover makes sense to readers only after they’ve read the story. If I were a freakish hybrid with Bones McCoy after an unfortunate transporter accident, I might say, “Dammit, Jim! I’m a writer, not a graphic designer!” I should have asked for professional help instead of trying to do it on the cheap. I can recognize a good cover, but there’s a big gap between flying the plane and riding in back.

I was shortsighted. Once an ebook is for sale, you get to sell it forever. Why not make the best first impression you can? It will make a better return with a pretty face and you have forever to make back the investment. That’s what a good cover is: an investment, not a cost. My graphic designer is Kit Foster of kitfosterdesign.com (great guy!) so the cost was reasonable, too.

The other good move I made (finally!) was to ask for a cover endorsement from a fellow suspense novelist. I got one from a bestselling author: Jeff Bennington, author of Twisted Vengeance (and more). Jeff read The Dangerous Kind and gave me some nice quotes for the cover. Cover endorsements give readers courage to make that first click to buy our work and get sucked into our worlds.

Thanks Kit and Jeff. I may find new mistakes to make, but I don’t think I’ll be repeating this one moving forward.

Filed under: All That Chazz, authors, Books, ebooks, Publicity & Promotion, self-publishing, writing tips, , , , , , , , ,

Why Amazon’s KDP Select Is God’s Gift to Authors

Via Scoop.itWriting and reading fiction

In this guest post on The Creative Penn, my buddy Jeff Bennington lays out how KDP Select worked for him, with numbers! ~ Chazz
Via www.thecreativepenn.com

Filed under: ebooks, Publicity & Promotion, publishing, self-publishing, Useful writing links, Writers, , , , , , , , , ,

What moves books? And what is ‘Parketing’ anyway?

Successful book marketing campaigns often do a lot of things at once, especially at first, before awareness of your book grows. Author Jeff Bennington, for instance, has noticed that online marketing of his books takes an hour out of each day or sales begin to dip. (More on getting you and your books’ global fame in a minute, but first let’s talk attitudes, parketing and my terrible personal deficiencies as a book marketer.)

Someone’s already saying, “An hour a day? Who has that kind of time? When will I have time to write?” You’re an artist, but you’re an artist in business. Businesses need to advertise. You’d make time to send out invoices, so make time to make people aware of your books unless you’re content writing for yourself and your kids. (Fortunately, lots of online marketing is cheap, free and fun, so there’s that.) Down the road, once you reach critical mass, maybe you’ll be able to get away with doing less marketing, but I doubt it. Coke still advertises. Manage your time and make it work.

Here’s one cheap way to promote local awareness of your books: I first heard of parketing (though it wasn’t called that then) at a writers’ conference three years ago. The marketing guru fired lots of ideas at us: blogging, tweeting, podcasts…the usual, though it was all newer, scarier stuff then. Then the guru asked, “How many of you have a car magnet advertising the cover of your book?” Not a single hand was raised, of course. The marketing guru snarked, “Yeah, why would you want to let anyone know you have a book for sale?” Park your car where lots of people will see it with your lovely book cover on it and voilà! That’s parketing.

It’s a digital world, so old-school attempts to market a book are often overlooked, often with justification. However, you may want to consider parketing in certain circumstances. This is one of those advertising strategies that has “short term” written all over it. It could work for the short term because no one is doing it. No one is doing it because your first reaction is that it sounds silly or maybe even naive or worse, beneath your dignity. If you habitually park your car in a high-visibility area (say, outside a bookstore at the mall) it sounds a little less silly. When you consider the number of businesses that do advertise this way, successfully, it sounds even less nuts. If your pockets are shallow, you can still do this. I got my car magnet from Vistaprint for less than $20.

Parketing works much better if you’re prepared to ask a bunch of friends to put car magnets on their vehicles, too. If your pockets are very deep, you could even go for the full paint job. Do that and you’ve got a marketing campaign started in your city and the basis for a press release to local newspapers and magazines. Sure, we market our ebooks globally, but we shouldn’t turn up our noses at getting noticed locally. That’s one way to get critical mass going. People in your own city, especially media, are more interested in local authors because they have a sense of ownership and familiarity with local authors. There’s a business in my city that seems to be everywhere because each employee gets a free paint job on their vehicle advertising the business. Everywhere they drive, they are advertising. It’s not that large a company (or even a particularly good one), but their ad-plastered cars seem ubiquitous, reminding everyone daily, “Here we are!”

The ad on my van gets attention because it’s just so damn weird. There is surely not another author advertising his or her book with a car magnet for hundreds of miles, so people slow down to read it. I’ve watched them slow down to look. Has it translated to sales? I don’t know. It’s just one car magnet for one book, but I do know people are reading the ad. For me, this little strategy is really  just about promoting awareness so I get my name familiar. For what I spent, I’m okay with that. We gravitate toward the familiar, buying name brands instead of the unknown product (which could be just as good or better but you don’t recognize the label.) When I shop the local Asian food market, I’m actually physically uncomfortable with the cans of unknown weird stuff even though I know it’s not weird. It’s merely different. (I’m weird.)

It’s all the other stuff I do that will make the difference in the long term. There is no one way to move books. Online marketing is going to do much more  because it’s everywhere. For instance, I’ve been on the air, or talked about, on six different podcasts recently (besides my own weekly podcast). That will go a lot further toward gaining some vague familiarity with my name as an author than a car magnet will for one book. Plus, I love podcasting, so I’ll always have that.

Have you guessed this post is not really about putting a magnet on your car? It’s about using multiple strategies to get attention to your books. Marketing campaigns that are single-pronged attacks do not move books. Try a lot of things, even the weird ideas if they make sense to you. Experiment and have fun with it if you can. Try to get your name out there, arriving from several places, preferably at once. We must reach outside of our circles of family and friends to move books.

I’m often reluctant to try new book marketing  strategies until I see them tested by others. That’s why I missed out on the benefit of KDP Select while some others made whacko cash last December. I haven’t jumped on Pinterest because I read one blog about their scary terms of service. These are my deficiencies. I’m often too timid about doing things that are good for me. Everything new feels weird at first. Unfamiliar doesn’t mean wrong. Unfamiliar simply means unfamiliar. In our marketing efforts, should we proceed with caution? Sure. Don’t get taken,  but do proceed and make progress.

What are the book marketing basics? Write a good book. Get it edited. Get a great cover design. Price it right. Yeah, yeah, yeah. You know all that.

What then? Then go buy my buddy Jeff Bennington’s new book, The Indie Author’s Guide to the Universe. I’m reading it right now and I especially like the things you can do to sell your books that are free. Let him show you the way forward. The best marketing strategies are not static. They come and go and rise and fall so we have to stay current and open to experimentation with new opportunities as they arise.

That’s what I’m trying to do, anyway, and that’s what this blog is about.

~ Robert Chazz Chute is the author of a bunch of great ebooks of suspense with titles he now realizes generally repel you. He podcasts a comedy/narrative show, Self-help for Stoners, every Thursday night. To learn more, go to AllThatChazz.com.

Filed under: ebooks, Media, My fiction, podcasts, Publicity & Promotion, publishing, Useful writing links, web reviews, What about Chazz?, What about you?, writing tips, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

The Writing Bomb: Amazon is Publishing Reviews? Will You be Next?

Via Scoop.itWriting and reading fiction

(Here’s something new for authors to worry about! Imagine you get a review stuck on your book that’s negative and that’s the first thing potential readers see before they know anything more about your book! Find out more by clicking the link below to hear what my friend Jeff Bennington found out. ~ Chazz)
Via thewritingbomb.blogspot.com

Filed under: publishing, reviews, Useful writing links, web reviews, , , , , , , ,

Book promotion for self-publishers

As a self-publisher, you probably can’t afford to splash a big ad across the back page of the New York Times (and that’s of limited use anyway.) What is useful is connecting with people. Be genuine and you can share and spread useful information that brings good karma down the line. In this video I talk about Jeff Bennington’s Reunion blog tour. I won a Kindle, but I would have promoted his novel anyway. Here’s why:

Filed under: authors, Books, Publicity & Promotion, self-publishing, , , ,

6 Effective Ways to Promote Your Book

ReunionToday’s guest post is from the author of Reunion, Jeff Bennington! I forget how I ran across Jeff, though it could have been a lot of places since Jeff is a powerful experimenter in the realm of book promotion. His site is The Writing Bomb. He’s also blogged here before on CreateSpace versus Lightning Source–a very popular post, and for good reason: Jeff’s generous with what he learns. Here’s what he picked up from his book campaigns:

In the world of publishing, authors have found many ways to promote their work ranging from book signings with a 3-piece orchestra to dressing up like their characters. After publishing two novels, I’ve tried some of those crazy stunts, but from my experience, there are a few affordable and effective ways to promote your book online that won’t leave you looking like Barney the dinosaur. In fact, online marketing has been touted, and likely is, the best way for an author to promote his or her work.

However, authors have to approach marketing differently based on their genre and subject matter. And let’s be clear, when you promote your book, you can’t always expect immediate gratification and you’re not guaranteed sales. Your premise will drive readers to read a sample and the excerpt will determine your sales. And so, the quality of your writing is ultimately the best sales pitch.

The best promotion for me has come from the following:

#1 Goodreads.com: Goodreads “giveaways” are an incredible tool to publicize your book. I recently posted Reunion in a giveaway and had 787 bites in 5 days, beating out bestsellers that have been on the list for months.

HINT: Don’t post more than one book to give away and do it in one-week spurts. You’ll have to trust me on this.

I also like what my ad on Goodreads is doing. The thing with Goodreads is not how many clicks or sales you get, but how many folks “add” your book to their “to be read” list. When they do that, they are more or less planning on buying your book when they get to it, and they will, because most readers on Goodreads are avid readers and love talking about what they read, so they will also rate and review your book, which is another benefit of that site.

Another secret here is that if you spend X amount of dollars on an ad, you will likely get a lot more “adds” than clicks, which is good because it is a pay-per-click system. But if folks add your book without clicking on the ad then you have effectively extended the life of your ad immeasurably.

#2 Blog: If you don’t have a blog or you’re afraid of starting one or you think it’s too much

Jeff_Bennington

Jeff Bennington

work, then plan on writing your book solely for your mother to enjoy because blogging is only the beginning of what it takes to market your book…and it’s the easiest. It’ll only get harder and more expensive from there.

#3 Kindlenation.com: This is a very good site but you’ll have to plan months in advance to run an ad. It will definitely make your money back and more because they have a lot of readers who buy what they advertise. Programs run from $119 to $349. Kindle Nation reaches from 7,500 to 15,000+ opt-in readers. I paid $99 for an ad that ran in mid May and sold over 200 copies that day. So if you make $2 or $3 a book and spend $119…do the math.

#4 Twitter, Facebook, email lists: These are the most obvious and basic starting points. I’ll put it this way, I got all four of my book blurbs through Twitter connections, two of which are bestselling authors. If you can get that elsewhere, go for it. Basically, you have to tell your social marketing pals about your book.

And, this is important, you have to share their work too.

If you blast your friends and followers with your personal spam, they will retweet and share less and less the more you do it. Share what they are doing and chat with them and you’ll notice a marked difference in how receptive they are to spreading the word about your book. I’ve experimented with this and I can tell you without a shadow of doubt that cross promotion helps.

Strict self-promotion hurts.

However, I have found that tweeting short blurbs, such as “A Riveting and Incredibly Powerful Story of Pain and Triumph!” grabs reader’s attention more than, “Check out my new book, REUNION”. Try both methods and see which works better. Be sure to include a “tiny url” to allow room for your #tags.

HINT: Use the twitter share button on the right side of your Amazon sales page. It has the shortest “tiny url” I’ve seen yet.

#5 Ereadernewstoday.com: I’m on the schedule, so I don’t know for sure, but I’ve heard that Ereadernewstoday.com is a good site to advertise on. This program is $25 a day. Emails will reach about 10,000 book readers through opted-in email blasts.

#6 Blog Tour: Plan for a lot of work. It can be nearly free, but will be the most time consuming. However, if your book sucks, I think a blog tour can backfire. I’m just sayin’.

If you go this route, you better get your book professionally edited and proofed and have a great cover and good formatting because that’s what book bloggers and reviewers expect.

Basically, when it comes to promoting your book. You better make sure it is a damn good book or you’ll have a 7-digit Amazon ranking within a month. I know. I’ve seen it. But don’t get overwhelmed. I’m a newer author and I’m not breaking any records, but I believe these six methods of promotion will help you tremendously, especially if you are in the process of building your platform as I am.

Thanks for reading. What methods have you used to promote your book? How did it turn out? Let me know.

Jeff Bennington, author of REUNION & other thrillers

CLICK THE COVER TO BUY REUNION NOW:

Reunion

And here are more of Jeff’s links:

The Rumblin’ 

Killing the Giants

The Writing Bomb 

www.jeffbennington.com

Filed under: Books, Guest blog post, Publicity & Promotion, Writers, , , , , , , , , , ,

Support authors. Buy books.

FYI: I promised the big announcement today.

That post drops here

at 12:01 pm EST.

Now, to business:

Author Jeff Bennington from The Writing Bomb wrote a very helpful post for Chazz Writes comparing his publishing experience with Lightning Source vs CreateSpace. 

Besides helping self-publishers out with some great information, Jeff’s written a great book. The early reviews are very exciting, so I’m not just asking that you help out an author. I’m asking that you enjoy a good book.

http://www.amazon.ca/Reunion-Jeff-P-Bennington/dp/0615450865/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1302828982&sr=1-1Jeff is trying to climb high in Amazon‘s rankings today so readers can find his novel. Get in on the ground floor and help kickstart Jeff’s career. He’s encouraging fans and future fans to buy Reunion today. The novel has received great reviews, so why not? It’s not expensive.

Check out the awesome reviews and blurbs here.

Why not buy two? I will.

For this strategy to work best, it would be great if you bought the book today, April 15, if you please. It’s tax day in the States, so console yourself and forget about that horror by reading Jeff’s cool horror story.

Please support the arts and chill with a good book. Thank you.

UPDATE: Just bought two copies of Reunion.

Can’t wait!

Filed under: authors, book reviews, Books, publishing, Writers, , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Createspace or Lightning Source: Pros & cons breakdown

Jeff_Bennington

Jeff Bennington

I’m trying to decide what company to go with to get my novel out. Smashwords grinds manuscripts into all e-book formats, of course, but what about the paper book issue? Createspace or Lightning Source? I recently asked some authors about their experience with companies that facilitate self-publishers. Some were satisfied with Createspace and others were fine with Lightning Source. Jeff Bennington, author of a paranormal thriller, Reunion as well as the blog The Writing Bomb,  hit me with a great, detailed reply. He has experience with both Createspace and Lightning Source. Rather than pushing me one way or another, he laid out the pros and cons as he sees it from his experience.

“Dude!” I said (because in my mind I’m still seventeen and it’s the ’80s.)  “This isn’t a mere reply to my question. This, sir, is a blog post. How about it?” He graciously said yes.  Here’s his breakdown:

Cons


At Lightning Source, starting an account is a bit cumbersome (much more paperwork than Createspace.) Once the paperwork was complete I had to get my cover just right, but Joleene Naylor, an independent cover artist, helped me do that with ease.
However, I’m not as happy with Lightning Source’s ink/cover quality as I am with Createspace. Lightning Source’s paper is much thinner than Createspace. (Same number of pages and Lightning Source is at least 1/4″ thinner. Very strange.)
The initial work to get a proof copy is somewhat exhausting and cost $39 (overnight, mandatory) for a proof every time!
I can get five proofs for $50 (overnight, not mandatory with Createspace).
I’ll use Createspace the next time if I discover that print copies just aren’t the thing for my books. I used them this time to get advanced reading copies (ARCs) out early. Createspace was fast and easy to work with but I was very limited on the back cover and spine art.
Expect 1 to 2 days for email return. But if you call..they answer.

Pros


The number one reason to use Lightning Source is the distribution: return availability and full industry discount (45-55%). That was enough for me because very few publishers for indies do that and if they say, as Createspace does, that they have full distribution, you better make doubly sure that the wholesale discount is 45+ and that you can have a return policy. Createspace  never told me that. I asked and they said, “We don’t make that decision.” I say “Bull^%$#!” Of course they do. They are the publisher.
With Lightning Source, you are definitely the publisher. I like that.
If you have a newer mac formatting is easy. Lightning Source will upload your sized PDF with no worries.
Once the book was uploaded and passed the tests, things moved rather quickly. Give yourself 2 months to get your account in process and book uploadedReunion
The best thing is you are assigned a customer rep—a real and a very nice and helpful person. My rep at Lightning Source is Carol Egan. She is wonderful!

Overall, I’m happy so far. I mostly want my print version to be available to local stores for signings (if I have one) and a lot of my friends and family want to buy it at a store. I can’t do that with most other self-pub outlets. Lightning Source is the real thing. Great for a small press…like me!

 

Right about now you’re bubbling over with gratitude for Jeff”s insights. Act on it and check out his book. Reunion just launched and the reviews on Amazon are very good. Plus, you need to own it for research purposes. (See what you think of the binding etc.,…) Buy Reunion.

 

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