We recently discussed using Smashwords website and publishing service to get your manuscript into the digital ebook marketplace but, as you might expect, this particular company isn’t the final word on the subject. While publishers might wish that sending books out into the world in digital format was all they would ever have to do, we haven’t arrived at the place and time in history yet when readers are prepared to ditch the sensation of holding a real book in their hands.
That’s where a service like Lulu comes in. Like Smashwords, Lulu also formats manuscripts for digital sale but goes one step farther and allows you to sell your book in hard copy through Print On Demand (POD) technology. This simply means that, unlike traditional publishing houses, the book is only printed one copy at a time as orders come in. The amazing advances of computer technology have made this possible so, while the Big Boys have to crank out thousands of copies of a book to make it even worth turning their printing presses on, you can skate alongside them one copy at a time.
Lulu has an option that allows you to design and set your book up for printing at no cost. They make their money on the back end by taking a cut of each copy printed for sale. The good news is that the author makes 80% of the cover price versus a few bucks a copy sold with the old fashioned publishing industry. Of course, using the free Lulu option means you’ll have to be fairly self sufficient with designing and uploading your cover and properly formatting the manuscript. If you don’t feel comfortable doing this, there are service packages available to help you out.
The one drawback of POD technology that we see is that the book will almost certainly have to be priced above what the average consumer has come to expect for a book. For example, the Lulu manufacturing cost for a standard grocery store rack trade paperback is about $8 to $9. To make any money on it yourself, you’d have to price it above that, which puts it at $10 or higher – not an unsellable level but keep in mind that many people might think it’s a little high.
Whether or not you should create a hard copy of your book is something you’ll have to weigh carefully. With the tremendous growth of ebook readers like Kindle and Nook, you might make just as much money selling your book digitally for $2.99 and keeping 70% to 80% of that amount. Either way, things are getting interesting for today’s writers and publishers.
The Speaking of Wealth Team
Flickr / Mostly Muppett