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:
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 $50 (overnight, not mandatory with Createspace).
I’ll use Createspace the next time if I discover that print copies just aren’t the thing for my books. I used them this time to get advanced reading copies (ARCs) out early. Createspace was fast and easy to work with but I was very limited on the back cover and spine art.
Expect 1 to 2 days for email return. But if you call..they answer.
The number one reason to use Lightning Source is the distribution: return availability and full industry discount (45-55%). That was enough for me because very few publishers for indies do that and if they say, as Createspace does, that they have full distribution, you better make doubly sure that the wholesale discount is 45+ and that you can have a return policy. Createspace never told me that. I asked and they said, “We don’t make that decision.” I say “Bull^%$#!” 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 uploaded
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.
- Amazon’s confusing self-publishing options (feldmanfile.blogspot.com)
- Publishing Prep (prclcnovelinayear.wordpress.com)
- Are PODs ebooks? (teleread.com)