December 24, 2005

To Publish and be Damned?

Nige mentioned Print on Demand (PoD) services a couple of days ago when we were discussing books and different publishing/distribution methods. I had briefly looked into PoD myself at several points but most of the operations I had come across had been mere scams and not really legitimate publishers. Nige had however, mentioned Xlibris and I went over there yesterday to see what the deal was.

I was impressed at first since they were billed as a strategic partner of Random House Ventures – that had to be legit, right? I then took a look at their prices and some of my enthusiasm ebbed. $500 for the lowest cost package and then prices going from $900 to $1600 to set up? That seemed a bit steep. So I went into the details for each package and checked to see what you’d get for such high prices. What stood out from the list of features for each package was not really a feature – at least, not as far as I was concerned. Royalties of 10% – 25%? Were they insane? I was supposed to pay $500 (at least) to setup a publishing deal with them, print my book through them and still only get 10% of the profit? (The 25% was if you did any direct sales and how many books do you think I was going to sell going door to door? :p) I said bugger that decided to look for other options at this point.

I spoke to Laurie about this and she mentioned Lulu. So today in the morning, I moseyed on over to their website and was much more impressed. They had no setup fees, they took 20% off your profits (or rather tacked on a bit to your profit to give them 20%) and they seemed to have a better community and support system set up to deal with all of this. Oh yeah, they even let you sell the electronic version of your book through their site for free whereas Xlibris wanted a slice of that action as well (or at least, that’s what it seemed like to me when I read their site). Actually, I have to revise that after having gone through Lulu’s FAQ’s again – they do want 20% off of all e-books sold on their site but still, that’s better than giving 90% to Xlibris :p

The catch? Well, I’m still trying to work out how book prices are set at Lulu. They say that it is cost of publishing + royalty + Lulu commission but they say the cost of publishing varies on the number of copies printed. Since this is print on demand, this would appear to mean that the cost of the book varies all the time! If somebody bought 1 copy of my book, they would end up paying around $13.50 if the book was about 350 pages and I added a mark up of about $1.50 as my profit. However, if somebody bought 100 copies and so placed a print order for 100 books, it would cost them only around $11.50 – it sounds a bit complicated and confusing. Maybe I’m getting things mixed up … I’ll have to do a little more research and also look at a few more PoD outfits :)

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Tags: Self-publishing, Writing
Posted by Fahim at 7:56 am   Comments (0)