Lulu or Amazon? - Redux

swmirskyswmirsky Publisher
edited September 2018 in General Discussions
I have been following two parallel tracks with my newest book, using both Lulu and amazon Createspace (now apparently unified with Kindle to become KindleDirect). Having previously published on both platforms (and on another POD publishing services provider) I embarked on my present project with both Lulu and Amazon to see which worked better for me. I have found that I liked the cover I was able to develop with Lulu much more than the one I found most suitable for the book using Amazon's templates. But Lulu's site has proved harder to use (with recurring problems in the CoverWizard module) and longer timeframes for securing proofs. Lulu's per book cost has also been higher than Amazon's.

As of last night I decided to pull the trigger and publish the book which has been long in the making (and the editing and proofing). Lots of last minute adjustments to be made and uploaded (including a last minute decision to add headers to each page in the main part of the interior file and some footnote adjustments). Publishing on Amazon was a little more difficult than in the past because of the collapse of the CreateSpace webpage into the new KindleDirect webpage which meant I had to learn some new steps to navigate to publication (including authorizing a Kindle edition which I'd never done before). But it turns out their new site is easier than the old.

On Lulu the site remains as it's been for a while now. I once found it easier to use than Amazon's CreateSpace site but now I'm not so sure. As of this morning, there is still an error in the cover page as it appears on the Lulu sales site. Because of the added difficulties, I have not yet released the Lulu version of the book into the sales network beyond the Lulu site. Once everything is ironed out though I hope to do it and then we'll see whether the superior Lulu cover leads to more sales than the plain vanilla cover I settled on for the Amazon version of the book.

Once everything is done for both versions I will see what, if anything, is to be done re: promotion. Because this book, Value and Representation: Three Essays Exploring the Implications of a Pragmatic Epistemology for Moral Thought  is a work of philosophy and not fiction, journalism, social commentary, a personal memoir, etc., its audience is likely to be narrow and specialized so I don't think it will be easy to promote. I do hope to share it with a few professional philosophers I know in hopes they will find some merit in it and mention it within their circles. Promoting works of philosophy, books that are mainly of interest to academics and specialists, poses a special problem. But then we don't write this kind of stuff to get rich!

Hopefully the glitches holding up the book's full release by Lulu will soon be worked out. In the meantime, I am interested in seeing what, if any, advantages are to be had using the two publishing platforms. (Amazon made doing a kindle edition pretty easy but I don't like the way it appears on my computer screen. Lulu still has the better cover option, at least for me! Amazon books are cheaper to produce and that enables me to set a lower retail price and, of course, Amazon is faster on fulfillment.)

I still favor working with Lulu because I don't like monopolies and Amazon bids fair to become one while Lulu looks like its only potentially serious competitor in the field of self-publishing. (Yes, I know there are other self-pub PODs out there, "Just Kevin," so you don't have to give me a bunch of URLs to that effect -- I can Google as easily as anyone else!)

At least I'm glad to have the preparation of this book behind me so I can move on to other projects, one of which has been languishing for five years now in the wings!  

Comments

  • For what it's worth and as an exercise in marketing, I've placed the book's amazon link on my Facebook page, which I don't use for book promotion but, rather, general discussion, but which seemed to me a good venue with which to commence letting people I know that my new book is available. I had wanted to use the Lulu version, since I prefer the cover design I was able to do here, but, alas, the Lulu book is simply not yet ready. There are still problems with the cover's image on Lulu's site and a number of other issues I have to hammer out before I can go live with it, too. For now, therefore, the only version of the book I have been able to show people is the one done through Amazon:

    https://www.facebook.com/swmirsky/posts/10156979484594683?__tn__=K-R 
  • I have been following two parallel tracks with my newest book, using both Lulu and amazon Createspace (now apparently unified with Kindle to become KindleDirect).

    There's been a Kindledirect for years. I use it rather than ticking the Amazon box in Lulu ePub distribution. Kindledirect is exactly as it sounds. For the creation of e-books for Kindles. What seems to happen now is once one has created the e-book, you get an invite to also create a printed version. That's all the merger seems to have done.

     Having previously published on both platforms (and on another POD publishing services provider) I embarked on my present project with both Lulu and Amazon to see which worked better for me.

    But are you using an ISBN on the one you create at Lulu? If so then your printed book will be duplicated on Amazon if you are also using Createspace, which there's little point in.

     I have found that I liked the cover I was able to develop with Lulu much more than the one I found most suitable for the book using Amazon's templates.

    I, like many others, do not use anyone's templates. We create images for our covers and upload those in to the Wizards, so really how good the Cover Wizards are for designing in does not count.

    But Lulu's site has proved harder to use (with recurring problems in the CoverWizard module)

    I have never used Createspace, so cannot really comment on that. But I can get through a Lulu Project Wizard in around 15 mins, which seems OK to me. E-books on KindleDirect are a simple single site upload tool. No Wizards at all. That takes around 10 mins. What I last heard about Createspace is there's no multi section Wizard there either, but it does, or did, insist on uploading PDFs.

     and longer timeframes for securing proofs.

    Amazon own Createspace, and the latter apparently uses its own POD machines, whereas Lulu use 3rd party printers, who no doubt have many other clients to print for.

     Lulu's per book cost has also been higher than Amazon's.

    Indeed. Createspace/Amazon has no middlemen.

    As of last night I decided to pull the trigger and publish the book which has been long in the making (and the editing and proofing). Lots of last minute adjustments to be made and uploaded (including a last minute decision to add headers to each page in the main part of the interior file and some footnote adjustments).

    By Headers do you mean within the top margin? Or do you mean Headings, which are part of the text?

     Publishing on Amazon was a little more difficult than in the past because of the collapse of the CreateSpace webpage into the new KindleDirect webpage which meant I had to learn some new steps to navigate to publication (including authorizing a Kindle edition which I'd never done before). But it turns out their new site is easier than the old.

    I have not looked at my KindleDirect account for around 3 weeks.

    On Lulu the site remains as it's been for a while now. I once found it easier to use than Amazon's CreateSpace site but now I'm not so sure. As of this morning, there is still an error in the cover page as it appears on the Lulu sales site.

    That's not the fault of Lulu (or Amazon.) Do you have the link to it?

     Because of the added difficulties, I have not yet released the Lulu version of the book into the sales network beyond the Lulu site. Once everything is ironed out though I hope to do it and then we'll see whether the superior Lulu cover leads to more sales than the plain vanilla cover I settled on for the Amazon version of the book.

    A good cover can indeed help, but marketing will help more, as will a professional looking interior.

    Once everything is done for both versions I will see what,

    It's just one version is it not? But right now with two covers? Which will confuse people.

    if anything, is to be done re: promotion. Because this book, Value and Representation: Three Essays Exploring the Implications of a Pragmatic Epistemology for Moral Thought  is a work of philosophy and not fiction, journalism, social commentary, a personal memoir, etc., its audience is likely to be narrow and specialized so I don't think it will be easy to promote. I do hope to share it with a few professional philosophers I know in hopes they will find some merit in it and mention it within their circles. Promoting works of philosophy, books that are mainly of interest to academics and specialists, poses a special problem. But then we don't write this kind of stuff to get rich!

    As I have said to you a few times, search Amazon for similar subjects and you will see that there's 100s of them, and some by well-known writers sell very well. Don't underestimate peoples' interest.

    Hopefully the glitches holding up the book's full release by Lulu will soon be worked out.

    Held up by Lulu? Do you mean a printed book or an ePub?

    In the meantime, I am interested in seeing what, if any, advantages are to be had using the two publishing platforms. (Amazon made doing a kindle edition pretty easy but I don't like the way it appears on my computer screen. Lulu still has the better cover option, at least for me! Amazon books are cheaper to produce and that enables me to set a lower retail price and, of course, Amazon is faster on fulfillment.)

    What are you creating? Printed books, e-books, or both? BTW. what things look like on your monitor does not mean that is how everyone sees them.

    I still favor working with Lulu because I don't like monopolies

    Monopolies are illegal, however, Amazon are one of the biggest individual market places in the western world, and that is what sellers want > lots of potential customers!

     and Amazon bids fair to become one while Lulu looks like its only potentially serious competitor in the field of self-publishing. (Yes, I know there are other self-pub PODs out there, "Just Kevin," so you don't have to give me a bunch of URLs to that effect -- I can Google as easily as anyone else!)

    There are very few similar to Lulu. Blurb springs to mind, with their total creation tool. Many of the others, you simply send in files and. they sort them out, for a fee. And, even Lulu will admit that in no way can they or are even trying to, compete with Amazon.

    At least I'm glad to have the preparation of this book behind me so I can move on to other projects, one of which has been languishing for five years now in the wings!

    Are you not going to promote it then?  

  • You cover on Amazon is Ok, but the text on it does not really say what it is.
  • swmirskyswmirsky Publisher
    edited September 2018
    ".. . . are you using an ISBN on the one you create at Lulu? If so then your printed book will be duplicated on Amazon if you are also using Createspace, which there's little point in."

    I am but many books exist in more than one edition, often from more than one publisher. If Lulu takes too long to fix the problem, maybe I'll tweak it further though and then there really will be some substantive differences.

    "By Headers do you mean within the top margin? Or do you mean Headings, which are part of the text?"

    Yes, the top margin. Most professionally published books, especially with chapters or sections, have headers there to indicate what part of the book you are in on each page. At the last minute I decided to do the extra work to add them. With earlier books which had multiple chapters it was a pain in the ass. But this one only has an introduction and three essays so it was easier than I had feared. Took me maybe a half day to get it right (making sure that headers in one section didn't spill into another or change what was before, etc., or screw up the footers).

    I wrote: "As of this morning, there is still an error in the cover page as it appears on the Lulu sales site." To which Kevin replied:

    "That's not the fault of Lulu (or Amazon.) Do you have the link to it?"

    Actually it is. The subtitle kept creeping up into the title's space on the cover even after I'd fixed it multiple times. When I was ready to release through Lulu as well as Amazon CreateSpace I checked the Lulu page one more time and, lo and behold, that same error was there again, after multiple fixes. Very frustrating so I just stopped the process and went ahead with CreateSpace alone! No, off hand I don't have the link but next time I look at it I'll get the URL and post it here so you can see what I mean (if the problem is still there -- I have asked Lulu tech staff, through Paul, to have a look and see if they can address).
     

    "As I have said to you a few times, search Amazon for similar subjects and you will see that there's 100s of them, and some by well-known writers sell very well. Don't underestimate peoples' interest."

    Not the point. I am not questioning whether there are lots of philosophy books out there or whether some have managed to gain a big audience. I am saying that the audience for philosophy is very narrow and that reaching it depends a lot on word of mouth within THAT narrow community. So the point is to get some in that community interested enough and positive enough about the work to talk about it among their peers.

    "What are you creating? Printed books, e-books, or both?"

    Started with print but since Amazon merged CreateSpace with Kindle I decided to do a Kindle version as well, though I don't like how it looks, either on my pc or on my tablet. Page numbers disappear and so, it seems, do the footnotes which are important to the exposition. Maybe I'll have to look at it more closely though.

    "Are you not going to promote it then?"

    There's only one way to promote a book like this and that's to get it read and accepted in the academic community where philosophical works have an audience. If it were to catch on there it might have a chance with a broader audience interested in the issue who want to know what philosophers are saying. Absent that, there's no viable form of promotion I can think of.

    Thanks for your carefully considered responses, Kevin.


     



  • Okay, Kevin, here's the URL to the Lulu sales site for the book. As of this writing, the problem with the subtitle creeping up into the space for the title still exists. I couldn't release a book like that way, even if it only looked like that on the site but not in reality because it looks extremely unprofessional. And the fact that Lulu still hasn't fixed it makes me concerned that future printed versions will somehow pick up and reflect this mistake. Because I have fixed it myself on the coverwizard page and it still keeps recurring, I think the only solution is for Lulu's tech staff to find and resolve the problem.

    http://www.lulu.com/shop/stuart-w-mirsky/value-and-representation/paperback/product-23806550.html
  • ".. . . are you using an ISBN on the one you create at Lulu? If so then your printed book will be duplicated on Amazon if you are also using Createspace, which there's little point in."

    I am but many books exist in more than one edition, often from more than one publisher.

    Not when first published. Later, they may be moved on to another branch of the same publisher. an 'Imprint.' And an Edition normally means annual adjustments to factual books. Or one could be a print book, and one an e-book. Or could even be a large format hardback or Large Print. But still from the same publisher.

    If Lulu takes too long to fix the problem, maybe I'll tweak it further though and then there really will be some substantive differences.

    "By Headers do you mean within the top margin? Or do you mean Headings, which are part of the text?"

    Yes, the top margin. Most professionally published books, especially with chapters or sections, have headers there to indicate what part of the book you are in on each page.

    Yes, I do it myself. Name on right hand pages, and title on left hand. But you do have to know how to handle exactly where they appear, because they should only be on the 'Story' pages. Same with page numbers.

     At the last minute I decided to do the extra work to add them. With earlier books which had multiple chapters it was a pain in the ass.

    Some do it, but it's not usual to have the chapter names in the Headers.

     But this one only has an introduction and three essays so it was easier than I had feared.

    There should be no Headers in the Front Matter.

    Took me maybe a half day to get it right (making sure that headers in one section didn't spill into another or change what was before, etc., or screw up the footers).

    I created a template years ago, so all I have to do is change the text in them.

    Yes, the top margin. Most professionally published books, especially with chapters or sections, have headers there to indicate what part of the book you are in on each page. At the last minute I decided to do the extra work to add them. With earlier books which had multiple chapters it was a pain in the ass. But this one only has an introduction and three essays so it was easier than I had feared. Took me maybe a half day to get it right (making sure that headers in one section didn't spill into another or change what was before, etc., or screw up the footers).

    Usually, chapter names are not in the headers.

    I wrote: "As of this morning, there is still an error in the cover page as it appears on the Lulu sales site." To which Kevin replied:

    "That's not the fault of Lulu (or Amazon.) Do you have the link to it?"

    Actually it is. The subtitle kept creeping up into the title's space on the cover even after I'd fixed it multiple times.

    I still don't see why it's Lulu's fault.

     When I was ready to release through Lulu as well as Amazon CreateSpace I checked the Lulu page one more time and, lo and behold, that same error was there again, after multiple fixes. Very frustrating so I just stopped the process and went ahead with CreateSpace alone! No, off hand I don't have the link but next time I look at it I'll get the URL and post it here so you can see what I mean (if the problem is still there -- I have asked Lulu tech staff, through Paul, to have a look and see if they can address).


     

    "As I have said to you a few times, search Amazon for similar subjects and you will see that there's 100s of them, and some by well-known writers sell very well. Don't underestimate peoples' interest."

    Not the point. I am not questioning whether there are lots of philosophy books out there or whether some have managed to gain a big audience.

    It is exactly the point. It's what I just said!

     I am saying that the audience for philosophy is very narrow and that reaching it depends a lot on word of mouth within THAT narrow community.

    But the title of your book does not mention philosophy.

     So the point is to get some in that community interested enough and positive enough about the work to talk about it among their peers.

     Indeed, you have said that many times. Have you tried the many places I gave you links to?

    "What are you creating? Printed books, e-books, or both?"

    Started with print but since Amazon merged CreateSpace with Kindle I decided to do a Kindle version as well, though I don't like how it looks, either on my pc or on my tablet. Page numbers disappear and so, it seems, do the footnotes which are important to the exposition. Maybe I'll have to look at it more closely though.

    As said above. kindles (and ePubs) do not have page numbers, or headers, or footers. That's not how e-books work, because they are not printed. The reading devices have no need for such layouts. (Same here when creating ePubs.)

    "Are you not going to promote it then?"

    There's only one way to promote a book like this and that's to get it read and accepted in the academic community where philosophical works have an audience.

    That's not exactly promoting it. You cannot force them to buy and read your book, you need to convince them to read it, and then send them a free copy.

    If it were to catch on there it might have a chance with a broader audience interested in the issue who want to know what philosophers are saying. Absent that, there's no viable form of promotion I can think of.

    A book is a book.  https://www.yourwriterplatform.com/promote-and-market-your-book/ and that is just one example site with advice on how to promote them.

    However, if many self-publishers worried over selling any or not, they would not bother publishing!

    But you are over-complicating things. I still don't get why you are publishing the same book via CreateSpace and Lulu. It will be possible to sell the CreateSpace one cheaper, so which will people buy? So what will it prove?

  • Okay, Kevin, here's the URL to the Lulu sales site for the book. As of this writing, the problem with the subtitle creeping up into the space for the title still exists.

    Simple to solve. Use carriage returns to create empty lines, or create a page sized jpg with everything already on it, and upload that. (Deleting the auto-placed text.

     I couldn't release a book like that way, even if it only looked like that on the site but not in reality because it looks extremely unprofessional.

    Indeed. BTW, I don't recall seeing the sub-title on the CreateSpace one.

     And the fact that Lulu still hasn't fixed it makes me concerned that future printed versions will somehow pick up and reflect this mistake.

    It's not their problem, you just don't know how to use the text frames, or how to not bother with them at all.

     Because I have fixed it myself on the coverwizard page and it still keeps recurring,

    But what have you done?

     I think the only solution is for Lulu's tech staff to find and resolve the problem.

    They may not think there is one, just that you are not creating empty lines to space the text out.

    http://www.lulu.com/shop/stuart-w-mirsky/value-and-representation/paperback/product-23806550.html

    And now the book.

    What has the image got to do with the subject?

    Title Page. Stick to one font, and also perhaps not use italics on any of the words, nevermind just on one. But should the sub-title on the cover not also be on the Title Page?

    Copyright Page should have Copyright as  a heading.

    Dedication is tiny.

    Contents page should say it is the Contents Page, in a heading.

    It's a rather long Introduction. (And that's all that's in the Preview.) I have not read it.

    Back cover. Far too much blurb on it.

    What has that photo got to do with the content?

    Can you call yourself a philosopher unless you have qualifications in it?

    https://www.undergraduate.study.cam.ac.uk/courses/philosophy

    Many historic ones were eventually called that by other people, but they were, or became, very famous.

    Remove the mention that you are working on another novel. That claim will still be seen on the cover long after you are dead :)

    What I do not really understand is why you are only wanting existing philosophers to buy it. Just those? Do they not also tell people how to think?  They are philosophers (and usually qualified.) Surely your market is with those people who apparently need to be told how to think. I am not one  :)


  • BTW. The discount on your Lulu Storefront. Did you add to the price so you could just discount it? Because that discount does not carry over to other sites.
  • swmirskyswmirsky Publisher
    edited September 2018
    "I do it myself. Name on right hand pages, and title on left hand. But you do have to know how to handle exactly where they appear, because they should only be on the 'Story' pages. Same with page numbers."

    "Usually, chapter names are not in the headers."

    Headers differ for different types of books.

    "I still don't see why it's Lulu's fault."

    Because the mistake keeps recurring on Lulu's site no matter how many times I fix it.

    "But the title of your book does not mention philosophy."

    Why should it? Not every philosophy book includes "philosophy" in its title. 

    "They may not think there is [a problem], just that you are not creating empty lines to space the text out."

    Actually, they've already checked and emailed me it's been corrected. I will confirm tomorrow.

    "BTW, I don't recall seeing the sub-title on the CreateSpace one."

    You got me on that one. It didn't originally have a subtitle. I thought to add one for the Lulu cover but did not change it on the inside cover page. My bad. Something I should fix if I do another edition.

    "What has the image got to do with the subject?"

    It's a representation. And since the book is about valuing and aesthetic valuation is a form of that, a work meant to be artsy speaks to that.

    "Stick to one font, and also perhaps not use italics on any of the words"

    That's the general rule but some rules are meant to be broken in some cases which is just to say that sometimes not following a rule makes more sense than slavishly adhering to it.

    "It's a rather long Introduction. (And that's all that's in the Preview.)"

    It is. It's a work of philosophy, not fiction (which usually doesn't have introductions in any event though fiction might have prologues and intros are sometimes appropriate if to a scholarly edition of the text).

    "Back cover. Far too much blurb on it."

    It's a philosophy book, not a work of entertainment.  

    "What has that photo got to do with the content?"

    It's another representation, this time a literal picture of trees and leaves rather than the more abstract representation of six leaves in a frame on the front cover.

    "Can you call yourself a philosopher unless you have qualifications in it?"

    As you yourself have noted, many philosophers were not formally so designated. William James, for instance, was a physician and psychologist. C. S. Peirce  spent most of his life working for the government (though he briefly held a teaching position in logic as I recall). Some philosophers are logicians, others, like Alfred North Whitehead or Bertrand Russell, mathematicians. The famous longshoreman philosopher, Eric Hoffer, was a longshoreman. Never held a teaching chair in his life. And so forth. Albert Camus and Jean-Paul Sartre were writers. Bishop George Berkeley was a bishop. Arthur Schopenhauer briefly taught philosophy and then left, spending the rest of his life living off a small inheritance and wrting his books which did not achieve notoriety until he was an old man. As it happens I took my undergraduate degree in philosophy and actually did a year of post-graduate study in the field although I ended up quitting and becoming a bureaucrat for the bulk of my working life.

    "What I do not really understand is why you are only wanting existing philosophers to buy it. Just those?"

    I never said that. What I have said is that its natural audience is among those who are familiar with the lingo, the issues, the subject matter. But I wrote it as breezily as I could and avoided too much jargon in hopes others would find it of interest as well. But because it is a work of TECHNICAL philosophy, addressing specifically philosophical concerns, it is unlikely to appeal broadly unless it reaches and resonates with a professional audience to give it some cachet for a more general public.

    "Surely your market is with those people who apparently need to be told how to think."

    I have no interest in telling anyone how to think, only in offering a solution to certain problems that arise when we are engaged in the activity of moral evaluation.

    On the discount question, I am experimenting, that's all.
  • Well, I see it's a waste of time replying to you if you will not accept advice about your assumptions.
  • Yeah, it's probably best we don't respond to one another any longer since it's apparently unhelpful for both of us. Good luck.
  • swmirskyswmirsky Publisher
    edited September 2018
    And then there was David Hume, of course, a famous founding father of British philosophy:

    "Hume was the younger son of Joseph Hume, the modestly circumstanced laird, or lord, of Ninewells, a small estate adjoining the village of Chirnside, about nine miles distant from Berwick-upon-Tweed on the Scottish side of the border. David’s mother, Catherine, a daughter of Sir David Falconer, president of the Scottish court of session, was in Edinburgh when he was born. In his third year his father died. He entered Edinburgh University when he was about 12 years old and left it at 14 or 15, as was then usual. Pressed a little later to study law (in the family tradition on both sides), he found it distasteful and instead read voraciously in the wider sphere of letters. Because of the intensity and excitement of his intellectual discovery, he had a nervous breakdown in 1729, from which it took him a few years to recover.

    "In 1734, after trying his hand in a merchant’s office in Bristol, he came to the turning point of his life and retired to France for three years. Most of this time he spent at La Flèche on the Loire, in the old Anjou, studying and writing A Treatise of Human Nature. The Treatise was Hume’s attempt to formulate a full-fledged philosophical system. . . .  Although the Treatise is Hume’s most thorough exposition of his thought, at the end of his life he vehemently repudiated it as juvenile, avowing that only his later writings presented his considered views. The Treatise is not well constructed, in parts oversubtle, confusing because of ambiguity in important terms (especially 'reason'), and marred by willful extravagance of statement and rather theatrical personal avowals. For those reasons his mature condemnation of it was perhaps not entirely misplaced. Book I, nevertheless, has been more read among academic philosophers than any other of his writings.. . . in 1737, he set about publishing the Treatise. Books I and II were published in two volumes in 1739; Book III appeared the following year. The poor reception of this, his first and very ambitious work, depressed him; he later said, in his Autobiography, that 'it fell dead-born from the press, without reaching such distinction, as even to excite a murmur among the zealots'.”

    What would Hume have done if he'd had access to Lulu back then, eh?

    https://www.britannica.com/biography/David-Hume




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