There are a lot of self-publishing companies out there, they seem to sprout overnight in the fertile soil of the internet.
(In the interests of disclosure, you should know that I have a contractual relationship providing content to the terrific CreateSpace community forums, and I’m an affiliate there. And I’ve published my own book through Lightning Source.)
Between these two companies, virtually any self-publisher can get a book into print. Each is appropriate for a different kind of publisher, and that’s what determines which one I recommend for any particular individual. Here’s how I decide:
I recommend Amazon‘s print on demand vendor when the publisher
- Intends to produce only one book for the foreseeable future
- Is not particularly computer-savvy and does not have technical assistance
- Could use some editorial services or cover template capabilities
- They have no budget
I recommend Ingram Book Company’s print on demand vendor when the publisher
- Intends to start a publishing company with longer-term plans
- Has already started thinking about their next book
- Plans to hire professionals to help get her book into print
- Already has a company or is willing to set one up, and can afford the estimated $200 in set-up fees
Mick Rooney Knows
I never recommend other vendors. There are 59 companies being tracked by Mick Rooney‘s Self-Publishing Index for Author Solution Services on his indispensable POD, Self-Publishing and Independent Publishing blog, where he analyzes and rates each of these companies.
If you look at the result, you’ll see CreateSpace and Lightning Source at the top. Both of these companies are owned by much larger companies, each of which is a dominant force in its part of the industry. Amazon, of course, is the largest retailer online, and Ingram is the largest book distributor in the country.
You can double up on these companies from either end. Ingram will make your book available for ordering at almost every bookstore in the country, and automatically list it on Amazon. And with CreateSpace, for an investment of $39 you can get the exact same reach as part of an “expanded distribution” package.
So Now What Do You Do?
What does this mean to you, the self-publisher? A print on demand vendor with the backing of either of these huge companies is likely to be more transparent in their operations, and more stable over a long period of time than smaller companies.
Am I saying that all the other author services companies, self-publishing companies, subsidy publishers and vanity presses are worthless? No, of course not. Some of them have talented people working hard to create great books for their clients. Some don’t. Some are only in the business of selling you services, not in the business of selling your books. Some have been around for a while, some have been around for about a week.
I just don’t see any compelling reason to recommend anyone besides CreateSpace or Lightning Source for serious authors producing books they expect to sell in the marketplace. If you’re more of a do-it-yourself publisher, go check out CreateSpace, their friendly and easy to use website, their active forums for self-publishers and the trove of information they make available.
If your’e more of a competitive publisher with professional help and a publishing plan, set yourself up at Lightning Source. You’ll get great customer support in a business-to-business environment, access to all the customers of Ingram, and the capacity to do color books, hardcovers, and even offset runs of larger quantities, all with good quality
That’s my opinion. Either way, make your choice, and move your book confidently into print.
Photo by i_yudai