how to self-publish

I self-published a couple of books a few years ago. Recently, a friend of mine asked me for some advice/information on self-publishing. Here is what I told her:

It’s been a couple years since I looked into all this but here’s what I know.

I used iUniverse.com for both my books. They charge a good amount but they set up the entire layout of the book. All I did was turn in a Word Doc with some simple formatting. They created nice little chapter headings and other cool typography for the book block. iUniverse also secured the ISBN numbers and listed the book with Amazon, Barnes and Nobel and others. So that was a start-to-finish
solution.

I also used Lulu.com for my second book. It’s FREE. I had to format the book block the way I wanted it and layout my cover art with their “cover art wizard” but it was FREE. And they offered tons of cool options — different sizes of books, more flexible pricing for them, etc.

With iUniverse, they chose the price for the final book. With Lulu, they gave me a base price for the book and I chose my own royalty.

One thing is that my Lulu book isn’t available on Amazon or anywhere else because it doesn’t have an ISBN #. Lulu will help the author secure an ISBN and get the book placed in those stores, but the author has to do the legwork (as I understand it — things may have changed a bit).

Both companies offer cover design services and editorial services, etc.

I think both experiences went well. But because I’m such a fan of open-source, Creative Commons projects, I’ll go to Lulu first next time. They’re more flexible and allow me to be more hands-on.

A couple of other things I’ve seen:
I had a friend use Xlibris.com several years ago. It was basically the same deal as iUniverse (they handle everything for a high price). His book cover looks terrible. And I don’t like the layout inside as much. Plus it was more expensive. Thumbs down from me.

Some cartoonist friends used LightningSource.com which gave them absolute control. But really absolute… like they had to worry about the cover art being a millimeter off center. They also had to buy their own ISBNs and handle all the distro themselves. But they’re control freaks and didn’t mind it.

Finally, another friend of mine used Blurb.com to make a photo book for her boyfriend for Christmas and it looks great. I don’t know how great they are at larger, meant-for-the-public projects though.

I hope that helps.