Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Loyal Book Readers: Need Imput


Both Exiles and Starbleached are kind of going into the end run of their respective story arcs. This arc of Exiles is going to wrap up in May, and Starbleached will have its "season finale" so to speak, in June.

I have decided that I will be releasing a thoroughly edited omnibus at the same time, and that the omnibus (AKA a real, normal, 350 page book) will be available in print.

The big question is...what are you guys willing to pay for this?

I have three good options: Lulu, Createspace and Lightning Source.

The specs are as follows: Perfect bound, 6by9 paperback, 350 pages (<---it any="" be="" cut="" going="" have="" i="" if="" not="" out="" p="" s="" smaller="" than="" things="" this.="" to="" will="">
This is the estimated cost of a POD print book with those specs:

Lulu--19.50--I get one dollar. I am not a fan of Lulu

Createspace--14.99--I get $3, $6 or less than a dollar, depending on where the book sells from.

Lightning Source--14.99--no retail discount I get 9 bucks. Industry standard discount, however, is 55%. I would get 1.30

I have not done enough research on the subject to say, for example, that 15 bucks is the hard price or that Lightning Source is the best choice (I am pretty sure there are a couple buried land mines that I need to dig up) But I DO want to know what the most you book-buying people would be willing to put up with would be.

So: Imput, folks. If I go through the hoops it'll take to get a book in print, would you be willing to pay fifteen to twenty bucks for it? Would you even be interested in a print book?

NOTE: I know several of you are reading my book-publishing blogs with an eye towards educating yourself. I have ranted LOUDLY about not signing with publishers that charge you money, and if you look closely at Lightning Source's website you will notice that they charge you twelve dollars per book per year to have your book listed in their service.

The difference between Lightening Source and, say, Author Solutions or one of their many fronts, is Lightning Source is not a publisher. Lightning Source is a printer, and it is a distributor (...kind of. It's complicated.) Publishers list their book with Lightning Source. CREATESPACE lists its books with Lightning Source. If I understand their process right, in fact, when they do "extended distribution" they do it through Lightning Source. It does not provide a cover, artists, editors, book packagers or swag. All they will do is print the book and ship it to bookstores and individuals that order it. They are not dealing with authors. They are dealing with publishers, which is the role the author assumes when they begin self-publishing their own book.

I'm going to do as much research as I can to do it right, and we probably wouldn't see an actual print book for several months after the current story arcs wrap up. Right now I am gathering preliminary 'fo so I know what decisions I have to make when the time comes.


  1. Speaking from retail experience - Go with Lightning Source. They're the only ones retailers will order from, since they allow returns on merchandise (I think it depends on your specific printing agreement with them, but if they allow you a no-returns option DON'T take it. Returns are the only way to get your books accepted by retailers.).

    Speaking from con experience - Go with the one that prints the best quality product. Again, Lightning Source has a good rep here. Get yourself into a con as an indy publisher and bring copies of your book to sell at cost or even a loss. The point isn't to make money off the book. The point is to get them to read an omnibus of one series so they can go to Amazon or Smashwords and buy all the other stories. And then they can give the physical book to a friend.

    First thoughts. Probably more to come later.

  2. Further deep thoughts - 6by9 is TPB size. $14.95-$19.95 is the usual range for a TPB, up to $24.95 for a few. For a small-press starting author, fifteen bucks is the right range.

    Just going by what you've put in this post and my own experience with retail, I'd say go with Lightning Press. But at this point you know the details better than I do.

    And yes, I would totally buy a TPB of your stuff.

  3. Ok, this might be the dumbest thing in the world. If it comes out that way, please disregard it. BUT, is there any possibility of being able to create the books yourself? I mean, you're already doing the cover art. You're promoting the books. You're writing and editing them yourself. You are already carrying the full responsibility for producing and selling this product--but when you actually want to print it, you get between $1.50 and $3 for all your hard work? While the printer gets $10-15? That's heartbreaking. I mean, I'd love to buy a print book from you. I'd certainly be willing to pay $15 for one (and that's a lot of money for a book to me--I buy most of my books secondhand) because I see how much work you put into them through the blog. But if I was going to pay that amount, I'd want to be supporting the independent writer--not the printer.

    And I do understand that quality is important and the time and effort that would go into creating a book might not be feasible for you (it sounds like you already spend a lot of your time doing this). I just feel like artists are always SO underpaid for their work, and it needs to change. Other people make a living selling the product, but the product's creator gets next to nothing. Ugh.

    Anyway, it just seems like there might be more potential for profit for you if there was some way to continue doing it all yourself. Maybe something like what this guy is doing...?

    1. That is a REALLY cool vid and I'm really glad you showed it to me.

      I don't think it'd work for the print omnibus that I want to do here, mostly because the in-house cost wouldn't be sane (it'd take most of a ream of paper plus one 15 buck ink cartridge to print two books, so the printer would *still* be eating most of the money) and if I outsourced it locally, it might not be much better. The big expense here regardless of how I do it is that I'm basically printing one or two books at a time. That is ALWAYS going to be expensive and it will ALWAYS eat most of the money. Big houses save money by doing what is called an "offset print run" where they do thousands of books at a time, which can drop the cost down to like a dollar a book.

      That's not really feasible here.

      It also doesn't take care of the other thing I wanted to do, which was have the print book (and...uh...the print book price. E-book circles consider just having a print book listed a boon for e-book sales. It's complicated) listed on Amazon and Barnes and Noble. Both Createspace and Lightning Source list their products with, I think it's Ingrams? One of the big book distributors. So part of what I'd be "paying" for would be the cost (and time expense) of getting my product into the distribution chain. The BIG benefit of going with one of these companies would be that you (or anyone else) could walk into Barnes and Noble to order the books and come back a week or two later to pick up your copy.

      THAT. SAID (Cont--)

    2. I've been wanting to do the smaller, individual books in print for a while, but pricing think a 300 page book is expensive? HOLY. CRAP. Not just no, but HELL NO. And I hadn't thought that DIY was an option because I had no idea how to do perfect bound.

      Now I do. And where it's no-go for a 300 page book, a 100 page book would work PERFECT. and it'd be good for cons (and mailing to my non e-book reading grandmother :D)

      The hurdle would be that thermal binder...thing. Well, now I know what I'll be doing this afternoon...