Choose CreateSpace over LSI

As I said in my Publishing & Marketing Realities book: Amazon is an author’s best friend. Hands down. I stick by that statement even two years later. Even though so much has changed in the publishing industry it’s hardly even recognizable from what it was two years ago. Amazon, although it’s had its own changes, is still an author’s best friend.

From their Author Central service, free to any author, to their POD printer/distribution services through CreateSpace, I adore Amazon.com. They make my job as an independent author so much easier. I’ll be writing another post soon on all the great benefits an author has through Amazon.com, including associates kickbacks and sales figures, but for today, I’m going to focus on CreateSpace.

Two years ago I was an unwavering advocate for Lightning Source Distribution (LSI) over CreateSpace (CS) or any other POD printer. Not anymore. Amazon.com’s CreateSpace has surpassed LSI on virtually every level. This started when Amazon.com and LSI split back in 2011. That’s when things started to change.

Here’s an excerpt from my forthcoming second edition:

Amazon’s CreateSpace (CS) has become my #1 recommended resource for self-publishers and even micro/small publishers. There are several indie publishers who publish at least ten different authors that are now going the CS route as well. Since Amazon’s split with LSI, coupled with CSs free and easy set up, their professional product, and their distribution through the largest worldwide bookseller, CreateSpace has become the self-publisher’s dream. Amazon, as you will read all about in the Marketing section of this book, is good to authors. There aren’t many in this industry looking out for the author, but Amazon.com is one them. Don’t get me wrong, they make tons of money on being good to the author, so it behooves them to do so. Unlike other publishers and distributors, they have not yet sacrificed the rights and success of their authors for a few more cents, knowing, in the long run, it will only hurt their bottom line, not help it.

In the first edition of this book, I coupled CS in with LuLu as LSI-light and being on-the-fence of a vanity press, since they used to be BookSurge, but now both CS and LuLu have improved in both quality and distribution. CreateSpace is now a proper POD printer and distributor rolled into one, and it’s free, for the most part.

Unlike LSI, there is no set-up fee. Anyone can publish through CS, so you don’t need a publishing company. This can be a viable option if you’re just experimenting with self-publishing and just plan on publishing one or two books in print or if you plan to have a dozen or more books in print.

CreateSpace works well in conjunction with Amazon’s KDP Kindle publishing service (more in the eBook section). However, there are some limitations in comparison to LSI. Your book will be available for POD purchase on Amazon.com and it will be, but it will not be available through other channels without additional fees. These fees are minimal, especially considering you just saved $125 on set up fees.

In the first edition, one of the many reasons I recommended LSI over CS was the difference in the per-book cost for printing. That, too, has changed. Whereas a 240 page 8.5×5.5 paperback from CS did cost $6.30 to LSI’s $4.50 two years ago, that price has dropped to $3.85 per book through CS and has raised to $6.06 through LSI (including a $1.50 handling fee). LuLu is still at a whopping $8.75 per book, plus they don’t even have the 8.5×5.5 size.

Even if you do a small bulk order at 300 units, the LSI price drops to $3.42 per book while CS remains at $3.85 per book. You do not get bulk discounts through CS like you do through LSI and LuLu, but even LuLu’s bulk discounts are outrageous with a per-unit cost of $7.00 each at 300.

LuLu, as far as I’m concerned, is out of the running at this point for  self-published authors. I’ll talk more about LuLu in the Vanity Press section and outline what the few good things are about them as a publishing choice, and I mean FEW.

For CS’s Expanded Distribution Channel (EDC), makes your book available through Ingrams and Baker&Taylor, just like LSI. Upgrade your account for the $39 and go with the EDC. It’s well worth it, even though the bulk of your sales will be through Amazon.com. With the EDC, your book will be available via Amazon.com in the US and Europe, bookstores and other online retailers like Barnes & Noble, and even in libraries and academic institutions (if you use a CS-assigned ISBN). Your earned royalties are somewhat less through expanded distribution, but that’s because these other places must buy them at the 55% industry standard discount.

Through CS, your get higher royalties than through any traditional publisher or through LSI self-publishing. Whereas $1.00 per book was about as high as any royalty was before, much higher than through a traditional publisher, through CS, you can maximize your royalties with direct sales through Amazon.com, which, as I’ve said multiple times, will account for most of your online and offline sales unless you travel extensively and do events. A 240-page 5.5″x8.5″ paperback priced at $12.95 (again, a little high for that size) would earn $1.45 through CS expanded distribution and $4.04 through Amazon.com sales. Priced the same through LSI, with a 55% standard discount, you’d earn a $1.26 royalty per book (with printing at $4.56 each) through Amazon or any other outlet. However, you can choose the minimum 20% discount, and although that will not work for Barnes & Noble, Amazon will still buy them at that price. The minimum 20% discount bumps your royalty up to $5.80 per book sold! Even better than that $4.04 though CS; however, remember what I said about that pesky little “ships 1 to 3 weeks” caveat that’s possible with LSI and the hefty set-up fees. Hmmmm.

Do your research.

The CS royalty calculations are intricate, but you can read all about them through createspace.com. Amazon.com is very good at making explanations, algorithms, sales, and calculations accessible to the author.

Amazon’s CreateSpace has far surpassed LSI for the preferred printer/distributor of independent authors and publishers. CS’s distribution is as extensive as LSI’s, even though you’ll soon find out that at this stage of the game that isn’t even necessary. Unless you can get in with a major distributor, your books will not be on the bookshelves of bookstores, meaning the only way people will find out about your book as a self-published author is through your own marketing efforts.

One author described CS as Etsy for authors. A great choice for the independent author, self-published author with his/her own publishing company, and the micro/small indie publisher, CreateSpace is the best choice for mostly Internet and eBook sales, which is where 99% of your sales will be.

Through CS, you don’t have to use an ISBN, but at the same time, you can provide your own ISBN and imprint! CreateSpace, like their parent company Amazon.com, have bridged the gap for the independent author and small publishing company, alike. They offer everyone, from an author publishing a single book with no business entity to a place for self-published authors with a publishing company to even micro/small presses, an affordable place to print their books without sacrificing quality and the means to distribute them widely.

If you’re an emerging author, even if you haven’t finished your first book yet, get an Amazon and a blog today. Then, follow along to see how beautifully these two things work together, as well as with your social networks like Facebook, Twitter, Goodreads, and others.

Allons-y!

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