Updating the Amazon KDP-Lulu Conundrum

swmirskyswmirsky Publisher
edited October 2018 in General Discussions
I'm trying to give a running commentary here of my experience in using both Lulu and Amazon Createspace on a parallel track to see which is easier to work with and which gives me a better product. As of this moment, I'm still jammed up on both platforms (partly due to my own obsessiveness I must admit). Amazon went pretty smoothly initially. Using their old CreateSpace platform, I got the book published more rapidly than I've been able to do with Lulu. But once they transitioned to KDP and I decided to update my book's interior file there (published via CreateSpace while I was still dithering around trying to get my book right on the Lulu platform!) I encountered a serious block.

KDP it turned out, could not smoothly transition the CreateSpace cover to their platform thus obstructing my attempt to update the book's interior file which I decided to do because the delay in getting the Lulu book done had led me into making more changes to its file! After initially emailing me last week that KDP was making the change for me manually (on a one time basis) and then saying I could also update my interior file, I discovered, when I did that, that I was suddenly back at square one! KDP informed me that my CreateSpace cover again failed to meet their specifications (even though I had used CreateSpace's own template for creating it).

As of this morning a KDP rep called me to say they will try to work with me but, to do that, he has to go back to the tech staff to see if they can cooperate (I need them to fix the cover file to meet THEIR specs since I don't have that file in a fixable form on my own pc). If they agree, he said I can move forward with the corrected file. If not, not!

In the interim, my latest proof from Lulu finally arrived in the mail. However, since it, too, is now outmoded because of my changes, I cannot hit the publish button until it's been updated which Lulu personnel have informed me will require me to purchase yet another proof!

Since the book is short, it's not all that costly (a little more than eight bucks per proof, shipping and tax included). But, because it takes at least 15 days and sometimes longer to come in the mail (and no, I'm not about to pay for expedited shipping, too), another two weeks (and maybe more) will be lost before I can hit the publish button for the Lulu edition!

If the Amazon KDP fix had worked as promised, I probably would have just given up on the Lulu edition entirely at this point and gone with only the one version via KDP. But, since it didn't, I decided to pull the trigger and order yet another Lulu proof (I've stopped counting how many and have already thrown some early ones away as I will the later ones once the newest is in my possession and I feel confident all is well with it).

If all goes well (and I find no more errors or possibilities for improvement in the Lulu version) my revised book should be up and running in maybe two to three weeks via Lulu. I don't know how much longer it will then take for it to show up on amazon however. But if the amazon KDP edition is not upgraded by then I'll likely just shut down the KDP version and keep the Lulu one live.

It's a good thing the proofs have been pretty cheap ($4+ per book for the Lulu proof vs. under $3 for the old amazon CreateSpace proof, not counting shipping and tax). Otherwise this would have turned out to be pretty darned costly (making me wonder if I wouldn't have been better off going back to my old full service POD provider, Xlibris, now a subsidiary of AuthorHouse)!   

Comments

  • Just KevinJust Kevin Lulu Genius

    I'm trying to give a running commentary here of my experience in using both Lulu and Amazon Createspace on a parallel track to see which is easier to work with and which gives me a better product.

    Some people here already use both.

     As of this moment, I'm still jammed up on both platforms (partly due to my own obsessiveness I must admit). Amazon went pretty smoothly initially. Using their old CreateSpace platform, I got the book published more rapidly than I've been able to do with Lulu.

    Easier to create or faster to be listed on Amazon?

     But once they transitioned to KDP and I decided to update my book's interior file there (published via CreateSpace while I was still dithering around trying to get my book right on the Lulu platform!) I encountered a serious block.

    KDP it turned out, could not smoothly transition the CreateSpace cover to their platform thus obstructing my attempt to update the book's interior file which I decided to do because the delay in getting the Lulu book done had led me into making more changes to its file! After initially emailing me last week that KDP was making the change for me manually (on a one time basis) and then saying I could also update my interior file, I discovered, when I did that, that I was suddenly back at square one! KDP informed me that my CreateSpace cover again failed to meet their specifications (even though I had used CreateSpace's own template for creating it).

    In what way did it not? If they are mistaking it for a Kindle cover, then there's just one specific size for them.

    As of this morning a KDP rep called me to say they will try to work with me but, to do that, he has to go back to the tech staff to see if they can cooperate (I need them to fix the cover file to meet THEIR specs since I don't have that file in a fixable form on my own pc). If they agree, he said I can move forward with the corrected file. If not, not!

    In the interim, my latest proof from Lulu finally arrived in the mail. However, since it, too, is now outmoded because of my changes, I cannot hit the publish button until it's been updated which Lulu personnel have informed me will require me to purchase yet another proof!

    Well yes, as I keep telling you, revise or correct your file BEFORE you upload it. How on earth can you keep finding so many faults?!

    Since the book is short, it's not all that costly (a little more than eight bucks per proof, shipping and tax included). But, because it takes at least 15 days and sometimes longer to come in the mail (and no, I'm not about to pay for expedited shipping, too),

    That seems a long time, whereabouts do you live?

     another two weeks (and maybe more) will be lost before I can hit the publish button for the Lulu edition!

    If the Amazon KDP fix had worked as promised, I probably would have just given up on the Lulu edition entirely at this point and gone with only the one version via KDP. But, since it didn't, I decided to pull the trigger and order yet another Lulu proof (I've stopped counting how many and have already thrown some early ones away as I will the later ones once the newest is in my possession and I feel confident all is well with it).

    Amazon do not charge for Proofs then?

    If all goes well (and I find no more errors or possibilities for improvement in the Lulu version)

    How many Revisions and Proofs would it be so far?

     my revised book should be up and running in maybe two to three weeks via Lulu. I don't know how much longer it will then take for it to show up on amazon however.

    Up to eight weeks.

     But if the amazon KDP edition is not upgraded by then I'll likely just shut down the KDP version and keep the Lulu one live.

    I still have no idea why you are going to publish it twice.

    It's a good thing the proofs have been pretty cheap ($4+ per book for the Lulu proof vs. under $3 for the old amazon CreateSpace proof, not counting shipping and tax). Otherwise this would have turned out to be pretty darned costly

    (Just think, if not for all those Revisions, you could have afforded an Editor.)

     (making me wonder if I wouldn't have been better off going back to my old full service POD provider, Xlibris, now a subsidiary of AuthorHouse)!

    What?! you have spent $700 on Proofs?! But the last time me and you mentioned a Vanity Publisher, you insisted you did not pay them for the full service. You only paid them to publish it.  Not even for an Editor to correct all your mistakes.

  • swmirskyswmirsky Publisher
    edited October 2018
    Kevin: Easier to create or faster to be listed on Amazon?

    Me: Both. Easier to create for sure, given the problems I have been hitting on the Lulu site. Getting listed is definitely easier since Amazon is producer/distributor/seller while they are only the seller for Lulu books.

    Kevin:   If they are mistaking it for a Kindle cover, then there's just one specific size for them

    Me: Yes, that seems to be the problem. And even when they had their tech people manually intervene, they sent me an email saying I should feel free to change the interior without any impact on the cover but when I did their system went back into rejection mode. Now I'm waiting for them to address this again. Their first suggestion was that I should do the fix to the cover myself but, since I don't have the file on my computer (it's on the CreateSpace platform) that looks untenable. So I'm again in wait mode with them.

    KevinI keep telling you, revise or correct your file BEFORE you upload it. How on earth can you keep finding so many faults?

    Me: I'm a perfectionist and this is philosophy, not a work of fiction where there is a certain amount of leeway in the way one uses words. Leeway here gives way to misuse or a lack of sufficient clarity.

    Kevin: whereabouts do you live?

    Me: N.Y.C. (I understand the printer used by Lulu for my area is in North or South Carolina and I am relying on the cheapest delivery mode, by U.S. Postal service.)

    Kevin: Amazon do not charge for Proofs then?

    Me: Their costs are lower for proofs and, while they take a big piece of the action for books sold on their site, one gets a better share of the price for one of their books than for a Lulu-published book there. Lulu, of course, provides a better cut for the author on Lulu's site, but Amazon is by far the better venue for selling books because it's got the confidence of readers around the world. Moreover, Amazon allows one to approve a proof online without ordering a hard copy if that's what one wants to do (and so no cost at all is incurred). Lulu, as Paul made clear, does not. So with Lulu there is a built-in cost for every revision while that is not necessarily the case with Amazon. 

    Kevin:  How many Revisions and Proofs would it be so far?

    Me: I've lost count but I'm probably pushing past 15, counting both Amazon and Lulu proofs. As I said, Amazon's proofs come in at about 60% of the price of a Lulu proof for a comparable edition. (Lulu also seems to have some difficulty matching my page-downs so that I have had to make an adjustment in the table of contents on the file I've uploaded here which, in MSWord doesn't match the pages in the book but which, after Lulu does its conversion, somehow does. Can't figure out why Lulu has this problem but KDP doesn't. Must have something to do with hidden codes in the file which I am not aware of.

    Kevin: I still have no idea why you are going to publish it twice.

    Me: As I've said before, I have used both Lulu and amazon in the past and decided that this time I'd do both simultaneously to see which platform I liked better (in terms of ease of use, better results, responsiveness). Things have been thrown for a loop though due to the unanticipated fusion of CreateSpace, which I had been using, with KDP, which seems not to be entirely compatible with the older platform. And amazon staff are having a hard time adjusting for that incompatibility, at least in my case, apparently.

    Kevin: Just think, if not for all those Revisions, you could have afforded an Editor.

    Me: Not really since 1) any editor I used would have had to be very specialized in the field of philosophy (which would have been hard to find and probably more expensive than the usual suspects and certainly would have required me to judge their capacity to take on a book like this one beforehand); and 2) assuming I've now done about 16 proofs (five on CreateSpace and eleven on Lulu with the twelfth likely the pending one) and calculating the costs at the Lulu price (which overstates the matter since the CreateSpace prices came in a few bucks cheaper, even after factoring in tax and shipping in both cases) I've only spent about $128 so far, give or take, hardly enough to hire an editor!

    Kevin: You have spent $700 on Proofs?! But the last time me and you mentioned a Vanity Publisher, you insisted you did not pay them for the full service. You only paid them to publish it.  Not even for an Editor to correct all your mistakes.  

    Me: As you can see from the above, I spent nowhere near the $730 price I paid for Level II service from Xlibris back in 1998. Nowadays, their pricing structure is different though, so I would probably have had to pay considerably more for an equivalent product. And none of this factors in the cost of editorial assistance which would likely run in in the thousands. And as I have repeatedly said, I'm capable of editing myself enough to produce a credible book. Would an independent editorial eye have been helpful? Probably. But it's hardly essential in the way you and Ron have previously maintained. 


  • I think we need to put this one to bed. These forums are for discussing writing and publishing, and this has turned into a running commentary more akin to a blog post than a forum post.
  • Your call. But I do think Lulu can learn from what I am going through. If you don't pay attention to the competition you can get left behind and that's not something I want to see because I would rather work with Lulu than the current behemoth, Amazon since competition is the elixir that leads to success. Why should Amazon be able to develop a monopoly on POD?
  • Just KevinJust Kevin Lulu Genius

    Amazon do not, but I will not paste the addresses of all the other Self-Publishing sites (including Apple ...) available to show you that Amazon do not.

    And if you think that Lulu do not try to keep up with things, read here >>   https://news.lulu.com/

  • You missed my point Kevin but that's alright. I won't be posting much going forward here anyway since it seems Lulu prefers I not be as frank as I've been and I don't like writing under those conditions. This is Lulu's site, as you, yourself, have pointed out multiple times and, of course, I respect that.

    Still, there's no point continuing if I can't talk here honestly about my POD experience.
  • swmirsky said:
    Still, there's no point continuing if I can't talk here honestly about my POD experience.
    To this point, speaking honestly is perfectly acceptable. If you had a bad experience with Lulu, you are welcome to post about it here. If you used Lulu and one or more other POD providers and would like to offer your thoughts on the experiences, that too is welcome.
    What is problematic is when those comparisons edge toward promoting one service over Lulu (these are our forums after all) rather than offering thoughts and opinions.
    But what I want to avoid with these posts are contentious posts that show up as a wall of text and offer little or no room for conversation. That is closer to blogging and that's not what this space is for.
  • Just KevinJust Kevin Lulu Genius

    You missed my point Kevin but that's alright.

    If that is really the case, then you do not understand your own points.

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