Yesterday, I did some research on several POD (print-on-demand) services and book publishing sites.
To my surprise I found a lot of them weren’t that helpful, some systems too complicated to get into, or way too expensive to use.
So here’s my short list of what I’ve read, experienced, and went through. These are just my opinions of things that I’ve noticed right off the bat. I haven’t dealt with these POD companies personally throughout the years, except Createspace. Just real quick. The reason why I love CS the most is because of their reliable customer service reps and how quick they are to respond to a problem I may have.
CS reps are always very eager to help and they’re polite. You may run into one grouchy rep, who’s having a bad day, but overall the people I’ve encountered have been respectful to me. They’re available 24/7. No lie.
I want a POD company I can easily communicate with and contact, either by email or over the phone at any time of day. Even if it’s 3 a.m. on a Sunday. It especially helps me learn the process when it comes to discussing any concerns or questions, whether it’s interior designing, layout issues, or problems that pop up before and after publishing a book.
CS has a community forum as well with helpful advice and tips. Another great feature. Not to mention, their site is so easy to use if you happen to be a beginner in self-publishing. Also, I’d like to add that I showed pictures to Nicoy of the graphic novel itself, including the cover and interior pages of the paperback copy.
She was amazed at the superb image quality and how well everything came out in the end. I figured since she’s the artist, she would know if the image quality was lacking or if it just sucked. But she thought the book came out pretty good, and I was surprised that even she was impressed.
I had a few nit-picky issues (since I’m a perfectionist), but overall the book was great. There was no fading of ink and certainly no streaking in the colored images. Let’s hope Createspace keeps this up, especially if I decide to order more books. I really hope that CS adds more interior options, such as saddle-stitching and inside glossy or semi-gloss pages.
Before signing up with any POD book publishing site, please remember to do all your research beforehand and look for customer reviews. You don’t want to sign up too quickly and have some serious problems with publishing later down the road.
List of POD Publishing Companies I Felt Uncomfortable With:
1.) Blurb – The website and the books all looked pretty at first glance. However, they did not have any of the standard book sizes I was looking for. There’s no 7 x 10. They have very small, small, medium, and large. That’s it. Not many to pick out from and there’s no custom made sizes either.
They have very limited choices. Let’s say you wanted a picture book or a magazine, Blurb probably would be a better choice for you. They do have a few Book Creator Online programs on their website, but I found two of them to be extremely difficult and painful to use.
I tried to go for a Magazine Economy, which was 8.5 x 11. That was the closest thing to a graphic novel I could think of, since it’s going to be a short series. It was $3.99 for 22 something pages in color, but they charge you .20 cents for every page after that. The other Magazine option was Premium. I think $5.99 for a semi-gloss cover, but matte interior pages. Economy had the matte cover, but glossy interior pages. I found it odd that the glossy interior was less expensive, so I went for that one instead.
Blurb has an App, useful plug-in programs if you have Adobe InDesign CS3, and a new updated Book Creator Online for Magazines. The App was practically useless to me on my tablet, because it was for two book sizes only. There weren’t any other choices or options to choose from. The plug-in was for Adobe InDesign CS3, which I don’t have. I have Adobe InDesign CS2 and all the additional plug-in software were for newer programs. Forgive me, Blurb, if I don’t feel like spending $500-$1000 on the latest Adobe software that comes out every year.
I tried the updated Book Creator Onine for Magazines… let’s just say I got a message saying Blurb doesn’t support my old Mac. And in order to use this program, I have to upgrade my mac to El Capitan and then to SierraOS (whatever it’s called). Yeah, that’s so not happening after losing everything I had thanks to El Capitan in the past. It’s the worst system up to date. It took me a full day to get my computer to run normally again. If my computer’s not broken, why fix it?
I certainly will not update my mac just to try a new Book Creator Online. The only choice left to me was the older Book Creator, which turned out to be a disaster. Very limited features when it comes to page layouts. You can change the picture by making it big or small, moving it above text and at the side. However, I couldn’t make a two-page spread, using one drawing or photo.
What happens if I had a landscape photo of a field. Why is that so hard to do? Even the book cover you had no options of filling up the entire cover with a single image and then putting text over that. No, the text had to be at the very bottom and the picture had to be at the very top. That was a little disappointing…
They do mark the trim areas, but they don’t give you any warnings as to how it might cut the images. I couldn’t stretch my images out, couldn’t adjust the lighting of the image itself. I could color the background and that was it. The Book Creator Online is just poorly designed and after several hours, I finally gave up.
In addition, I looked at Blurb’s customer reviews. Many authors had problems contacting customer support and it was very bad. After reading people’s complaints through various sites, it put me off Blurb completely. I won’t be publishing at a site that tells me my mac is too old to use their software, has limited options for authors, and is hard to reach over the phone… treating some of their customers like crap after getting their hard-earned money.
2.) Lightning Source & IngramSpark – I’ve heard so many authors talk about LS and IS it’s unbelievable. I have mixed feelings about them, even though they’re both great with international markets and have the best quality of books… or so I’m told. I’ll keep this one brief. Both their sites are too complicated for me to use and get into. They offer no guidelines. No instruction manuals on how to use any of their services.
They’ve been known to give better discounts and maybe get your books into stores, but you still have to know what you’re doing, in order to achieve any kind of success. I don’t have the time or the patience to go through all their forms. I want to finish writing my books and get them published. That’s all. Why do I need to pay all these fees? Yearly fees. Book fees. Fees for this and that.
Sorry, but I don’t want to pay a fee every time I make a mistake on the book and have to update it with a newer file. I’m not going to use a site that punishes their authors/publishers with fees galore. Not happening to me.
That’s not how you get my money at all. I don’t care how great the quality of your books are…there’s still that possibility that I might not sell one book at all. The hundreds of dollars I spent on LS & IS, I may never break even or see a fraction of that money back in my lifetime.
Sorry, LS and IS, but I’m broke. I’m a poor indie author, who wants to manage what little money I have left wisely. We writers are not big time publishers with thousands of dollars to spend. Until I’m one of the top 5 book publishers in the world, I won’t be using Lightning Source nor IngramSpark. Thanks, but no thanks.
3.) PrintNinja – I’ve heard some really good things about this company, especially about the quality of their books and how good they are with shipping internationally. But right now, they’re too expensive for me to use.
They do have lots of options for book sizes and they offer many services at their site. The only downside is… you can’t order one book at a time. The lowest number of books you can order happens to be 200 copies. They charge you a fee for both a digital copy and a hard copy of your book. The digital one is free by the way.
Other than that, I don’t feel comfortable ordering 200 copies of my book, especially if it turns out there’s a mistake. That’s too many books for me to handle and they’ll be collecting dust in my garage…
4.) BookBaby – I don’t know much about their site, but it’s $19 bucks if you want just one copy of your book. It doesn’t matter what size it is and the page count. That was a little fishy right there. Even if you have 8 pages in the book, it’s $19 bucks. Thanks, but that’s still too expensive for me. I also read that customer service is pretty bad and the quality of their books are not all that great either.
Anyway, I hope this helps.
Take care everyone and have a wonderful day!