Will It Be CreateSpace or Lulu?

Hey Denise,

ducks_smThe fog is lifting. The ducks are lining up, albeit in a somewhat ragged row. Yes, I’m beginning to get the hang of how to shift the gears on that self-publishing bus of mine.

After Googling and reading umpteen more reviews of self-publishing companies, including those in which users relate their experience withmountain_smthe company they had chosen (I shuddered at some of the horror stories), and peeking at the online snippets provided by Mark Levine from his book, “The Fine Print of Self-Publishing” (you have to buy the book for the full story), I narrowed the search down to two: CreateSpace and Lulu.

CreateSpace is an Amazon-owned company that allows you to do it almost all by yourself or, alternatively, offers à la carte assistance to shore up whatever part of the process you are unsure about—e.g., editing, cover design, interior design, layout and formatting. CreateSpace provides only paperbacks as the final product.

The friendly, cartoon-sounding Lulu, which in addition to à la carte services provides several for-fee packages, appears to be reassuringly supportive to the newbie. It has the added advantage of providing not only a wide range of trim sizes and bindings but also a choice between hard cover or paperback as the final book product.

So, for days on end I vacillated between CreateSpace and Lulu. On even-numbered mornings as I awoke and pondered the pros and cons, I would picture myself holding my hard-cover, solid book and turning the pages with delight. Lulu I’d decide. That was the company for me.

Then on odd-numbered mornings I’d wake up and think of the members of my book club and other reader friends and see them buying paperbacks by the dozens, never hard cover books. CreateSpace, I’d decide, is the one for me.

What to do to break this deadlock?

That’s when a new-to-me blogger, Joel Friedlander materialized to hand me the answer. The first task for authors who are contemplating self-publishing their book, he says, is to “figure out who you’re publishing the book for.” Pretty obvious, isn’t it? So why didn’t I approach the choice from this angle to begin with?

He advises being as specific as you can be in pinpointing your typical or ideal readers. Doing so will make it easier to locate them later as you market your book.

I see the readers of my book, “Bowing to the Emperor: We Were Prisoners of the Japanese,” a memoir of my family’s WWII experience in Indonesia, as being primarily women. We have read a lot of stories about the effects of war on men, but what of these effects on women, children, and families, especially from a personal I-was-there perspective?

Members of book clubs, students in women’s studies programs, WWII buffs and students of history interested in the effect of war on women, children, and families, as well as on military men—these I see as my readers.

And these readers would be more likely to buy a paperback, I believe. Although both CreateSpace and Lulu provide paperbacks, CreateSpace seems to have the edge when it comes to costs, earnings, and maybe even market reach.

Ergo, I’ve chosen CreateSpace as my self-publishing companion. I hope I made the right choice!

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