Currently reading - Percy Jackson and the Olympians: The Sea of Monsters
JUST A REMINDER: Over the next few posts, I'll be reviewing some of the players in non-traditional book distribution. I DO NOT advocate any particular company. What you'll be reading is my thought process as I work through my decision-making. I can, and probably will, make a ton of mistakes. Your mileage may vary.
When DH brought up the question of publishing my own works, he suggested Lulu. After all, that's who Wil Wheaton uses for his books. (Hey, DH was trying to help.)
Which is all well and good, but I'm not Wil Wheaton. And Wil's reasons for publishing independently may or may not differ from mine.
Lulu was one of the first POD publishers. Founded in 2002, they started with print books, but have expanded into other media: digital books, CDs, DVDs, calendars, etc. They also have plenty of add-on services such as editing, cover art, book design, marketing, etc. However, I question the costs of the add-ons since most of these you can do yourself or contract with a third party for less cost.
In addition to selling your e-book on their website, Lulu also claims it distributes to other e-book retailers. However, the only one mentioned is Apple's iBookstore. Another problem is that if you cannot provide an EPUB file, they charge you for the conversion (between $99 and $299 depending on the size of the book).
Lulu's terms are interesting, not so much for the content, but the way they couch the language. If the e-book is sold from their website, a base fee is tacked before the author/Lulu split is calculated. Roughly, it works out to about the same as Amazon's 70% royalty, unless you're givng away your content for free. For sales through the iBookstore, the terms are "80% of the profit." (Their words, not mine.) What this really comes down to is Apple get 30% of the retail price, Lulu gets 14%, and the author gets 56%. Why not say it that way?
As far as receiving your payments, Lulu gives users the option of quarterly paper checks or monthly PayPal deposits.
While I considered POD printing, the terms for a mass market size print book of my novel are cost prohibitive. I calculated out approximately $19.14 per book, assuming I get $0.48 in royalties per book (that's making 6% of $7.99, the standard royalty for a new mid-list author and the current retail price for a mass market paperback). Yeek!
I have to admit the reason I looked at Lulu was the option of having a printed version of my book on my office shelf. There's something about the tangible weight in your hand and the smell of freshly printed paper. Overall, I probably won't pursue Lulu unless enough readers request paper copies of my books. Even then, before I commit to a print option, I'll look into other POD companies.