My friend and fellow fighter-for-the-good-of-authors consultant in the Indie book world, Sue Collier (co-author of The Complete Guide to Self-Publishing, 5th Edition) recently wrote a great blog post about various “POD Publishing,” “self-publishing” and “vanity” companies vs. skipping the middle-man and working directly with a print-on-demand printer. She says it boils down to going directly to CreateSpace (now KDP Print), owned by Amazon, or Lightning Source (now IngramSpark), owned by Ingram.

I’ve worked with Lightning Source/IngramSpark for over eight years and recommended all my clients to do the same. Their account setup process can be confusing at first to a newbie, but I feel that is to separate the serious authors (those looking to publish more than one book) from those who only want to see their names in print on a memoir or poetry book.

Some of these “free” publishers (like Lulu) are also vanity. They’re making their money on the back-end, producing tiny books that only cost a couple dollars to print, yet retailing for $15 or $20. I was once handed a 40-page 6″ by 9″ poetry book that retailed for $14.95 produced by Lulu. Who’s going to pay that? And the author got “royalties” of a fraction of the difference (retail minus print cost), plus the retail price is set so high she wasn’t able to sell books beyond her friends and family.

And the worst part is, some of these companies grab hold of the author’s distribution rights for up to three years. So if you’re unhappy after choosing a vanity publisher, good luck getting out of that contract and going elsewhere. Too often the vanity route ends up costing thousands of dollars more than simply Indie publishing it the first time around, due to authors having to start over from scratch to reproduce their books. Take Sue’s (and my) advice – stay away from the companies that ask you to pay now, then pay later by offering you “royalties.” You’ll be doing yourself and your book a huge favor!

Kristen Joy

Kristen Joy

Kristen Joy Laidig is the founder of The Book Ninja. She has authored over 40 books, started over 50 publishing companies, trained over 10,000 authors worldwide, has her black belt in karate, and eats way too much chocolate. She currently changes lives through her students… one published message at a time, manages her two retail stores Toy Box Gifts & Wonder® and Nerdvana Outpost in the heart of her newfound hometown, Chambersburg, PA, is in the start-up phase of at least three new businesses at any given time, and generally causes anyone reading this bio to be out of breath. On her “off” time (what’s that?) she brainstorms business ideas with her awesome husband, the great Public Domain Expert himself, Tony Laidig, and hangs out with her two ragdoll kitties. She’s even been known to sleep... occasionally.


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