Print-on-demand technology has made it possible to have a real published book for much lower cost than traditional publishing houses or vanity presses. By “real”, I mean it’s bound like a book. Note that print-on-demand (POD) is high-quality laser printing, whereas traditional printing is offset printing. The difference is negligible for the average Joe reader. For the book connoisseur, only offset printing will do; and hard cover, not paperback.
I haven’t used all 3 to compare them in detail. Here’s what I found that does some helpful comparisons and gives good tips:
- I described my self-publishing experience using Lulu.com at my first time: self-publishing via print-on-demand, mentioning why I chose Lulu over CafePress
- Jeff Burton has this nice comparison chart for CreateSpace vs. Lulu.
- Gregory Solis posted these videos for Porting a Lulu book cover to Createspace and Some hints on moving your Lulu.com text to CreateSpace.
- Mike Reeves-McMillan (in New Zealand) compared these 3 print-on-demand suppliers: Lulu, CreateSpace, Zenith — read/download the PDF. The website for Zenith Publishing in New Zealand is zenithpublishing.co.nz
- This 2005 article, How to Choose a Print on Demand Publisher, suggests that “you need to consider seven crucial factors: set-up costs, cover price, royalty payments, control, distribution, author’s discounts, and the publisher’s reputation.”
- Look at this web page for a big list of print-on-demand printers and publishers. Setup fee may be acceptable if the terms fit you better.
- A link to CafePress Self Publishing is not easy to find from the home page, so here it is. “Create and sell your own books using true print-on-demand technology” with “No setup fees or minimum quantities.”
- Self Publishing blog by Foner Books – the most verbose blog I’ve found on this topic
And, it’s not so much about the setup cost. It’s about sharing your ideas and stories. I think the greatest value with print-on-demand is to get your content published as a book without concerns over the size of the audience. You can make your book available to the masses, the public; publishers and audience sizes won’t get in the way.
Before you dive in and self-publish, be sure you read the fine print about the terms and policies. If your book has any potential in being published by a traditional press, make sure self-publishing does not jeopardize your opportunity with a traditional publisher. Invite honest feedback from a handful of people and have them read your manuscript before you go print-on-demand. For example, THE SHACK has 4 million copies in print and was first self-published via their own company, Windblown Media. (cf. USA Today, Christianity Today)
Think you got a book in you? Maybe someone you know? If you’ve self-published, share your experience in the comments.