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Have you heard about this?

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Ferrit Leggings



Joined: 29 Mar 2004
Posts: 2658
Have you heard about this?  Reply with quote  

http://www.lulu.com/index.php

Self Publishing
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Post Sun Aug 22, 2004 4:30 pm   View user's profile Send private message Send e-mail Visit poster's website
Lauren



Joined: 07 Mar 2004
Posts: 1582
Location: Massachusetts
TANSTAAFL!*  Reply with quote  

*There Ain't No Such Thing As A Free Lunch!

First of all, it's not really free. There is a cost to printing and binding, and they make it look like it's free - it's not. You pay them a certain amount based on the interior (b&w vs color) and binding, plus costs go up for "bulk" orders - which they define as more than 5 copies.

And look at this thread on their forums - they charge you per page of your book, plus a fixed fee, then add your pre-set royalty and their commission to that in order to get the finished price. So it's not free. You don't have to put money up front, no, but it's not free.

Now look at the friendly tips page. Here's your catch(es):
They encourage you to hire an editor, and a typesetter/designer. This is going to run you at least hundreds of dollars, if not a thousand or more. You pay the editor to look at and fix your book. If you want, I can poke about and give examples of how much "book doctors" charge to even read your work, let alone fix it. Then, typesetters will set your book up, sure, but you have to hope they get it right the first time, or you might find yourself getting hit with fees for them having to go back and make changes. If they make a typo, you pay for it. Granted, you don't *have* to get an editor or a typesetter, but those would be automatic and not your worry at a regular publisher - this way, though, you have to find someone yourself and hope the person you pick isn't just taking your money and doing subpar work.

You have to pay for an ISBN Heh. $34.95 if you want an ISBN, (International Standard Book Number) the ten digit number assigned to each new book, which is how most bookstores identify books. And they'll enter you into Books in Print. Aw, how sweet. But what search system do most bookstores use? Well, that would be Ingram. And for the low low price of $149, they'll send your title info to Ingram's database! Now, I've always thought that Ingram and Books in Print were tied together, one using the other's database. It set off warning bells in my head, but I'd have to look into whether or not they're really linked before I cry foul and state that they're making an extra $115 off of the uninformed. Any booksellers wanna chime in on that?

I know it sounds like a good idea on first reading. It seems like a great way to get your stuff out there, but I would really suggest making every effort to go through a regular ol' publisher first. Lulu.com is a vanity press, even though they say they aren't. You do all the work. All the things a publisher would do for you as part of printing your book, you will have to do by yourself - and pay for. You should get paid for your work. You shouldn't have to pay someone to edit it, and typeset it, and print it. You shouldn't have to pay someone else to market it, or have to do all the marketing yourself.

I'm going to invoke one of my idols once again, and point you to Teresa Nielsen Hayden's look at another vanity press that calls itself a "writers' collective" but in the end is really a vanity press.. A lot of the points she makes here could easily apply to Lulu.com, even though Lulu.com services are supposedly free. Also take a peek at the other two threads she refers to, Slushkiller and On the Getting of Agents. She's an editor for Tor Books, and is hugely respected in the Sci-fi/Fantasy world. (I'm planning on going to several of the panels she's on at Worldcon. Very smart lady.)

I do have interject with the following disclaimer: I am not a published author. I worked in a bookstore and I'm on the sales side of publishing right now - I don't know the ins and outs of editorial/book buying from the publisher's side other than what I've picked up by talking to people (so I do know a little, but not a ton).

But I can tell you that your book is far, far more likely to find its way to bookstore shelves if it's put out by a publishing house. Places like Lulu.com don't have a catalog that book buyers can read through. Sure, they'll tell you that your book will be listed on Amazon and B&N if you have an ISBN, but that doesn't mean book buyers will see it and bring it into their stores. It just means you'll be in a database. My buyers hardly have time to go through the print catalogs from the regular publishers, let alone go looking for things they don't get put in front of them. (Time for math that will make you appreciate the people who buy books - figure that my company sends a stack of catalogs that's about a foot high. Now consider that we're the third or fourth biggest publisher in the US. Random House's stack is probably three feet tall, and Harper Collins - Chris' publisher - is somewhere between two and three feet tall. Now think about this: that's three of the top five US publishers. In the 2003 Novel & Short Story Writers' Market, there are 101 pages dedicated to publisher listings. That doesn't count houses that only do non-fiction.)

So, if you're a book buyer for a bookstore, and you have all that to wade through two, three, or four times a year, plus appointments with sales reps, checking on backlist orders, reading ARCs so you know what's good, and all other things booksellers do, are you going to go poking through fifty or more vanity publishers' websites? Not very likely. Sure, if someone comes in and says "I'm a local author, will you carry my book?" you'll give it a shot for a few months. But that's about it.

I don't mean to sound like such a downer. I know getting published can be hell just to get a foot in the door. I'm sure some people have had success in self-publishing - hell, we put out a book last spring that was originally self-published. A local bookstore had carried the book, and the owner told one of the Warner editors about it. She loved it and we bought it. But that includes the same fine print you see in miracle diet commercials - results not typical.

Try going the traditional route first, if you can.
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Well, I guess you left me with some feathers in my hand.

Post Sun Aug 22, 2004 6:28 pm   View user's profile Send private message Send e-mail Visit poster's website AIM Address ICQ Number
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