For several years I’ve been an enthusiastic supporter of Lulu.com for those wishing to self-publish a small number of volumes of their lifestory or memoir. I’ve posted several times about my experience publishing my preschool memoir, The Albuquerque Years on Lulu.
Over the past five years, many friends and students have followed my advice and lead, using Lulu to publish their projects. I’m now recommending Amazon-owned CreateSpace, the no-fee Print-On-Demand provider of choice. Let me explain why I’ve removed The Albuquerque Years from Lulu’s website.
Without asking for my permission or notifying me, Lulu converted my document to ePub format and uploaded it to the Apple iStore and the Barnes & Noble digital catalog, setting the price at $2.99.
That was not okay with me! If that isn’t illegal, it’s certainly unethical. I immediately removed it from those catalogs.
I was never given the opportunity to review the conversion for formatting errors. The Albuquerque Years includes over two dozen embedded photos, which are notoriously difficult to position in ePubs. When I finally discovered how to download the ePub file, I noticed that the pictures do display between paragraphs, but not always between the ones they are relevant to. It needs some work before I re-release it, probably via Smashwords.com, as a free download.
I never added a “royalty” markup to the book, intending for any interested readers to purchase it at my wholesale cost, which has risen from about $2.79 five years ago to $3.99 today.
To my surprise, tens of unrelated people opted to purchase a paper copy. Today, if the book were still listed on Lulu, the “retail” price would be $7.99. I’m relieved that nobody (including me!) has ordered a copy since this outrageous inflation began. I certainly don’t want anyone thinking I caught the greed bug.
A LiveChat customer service agent (Lulu does not offer the option of phoning them directly, toll-free or otherwise) fed me some corporate line about “the stated current manufacturing price”, but was unable to explain why my wholesale price was lower. I can’t blame him. He’s just doing his job. I refuse to support the executive attitudes behind his explanation.
The free eBook (pdf) dowload link disappeared.
I intended for the pdf version to be free, as it was for over four years. Just before I “retired” the project (I discovered you cannot delete published projects), I discovered that the link to download the free pdf ebook was missing. I have fixed that. The link to The Albuquerque Years in the right sidebar now connects with my personal server for free digital downloads. (Click here now to get your own copy if you don’t already have it.)
Lulu’s pricing has become unpredictable.
Over the past year or two they have begun sending out a steady stream of “special offers” like 10% off, free shipping, 20% off, third book free, etc. Although I’m a die-hard bargain shopper, when I’m ready to buy a book, I don’t want to feel like if I waited another week, the price would drop, and I especially resent having retail prices inflated to cover this system.
By contrast, CreateSpace offers consistent pricing far lower than Lulu’s, free phone support, and they scan your uploaded document for typos and punctuation/grammar errors. Wow! The volumes I’ve seen coming off their presses are first rate in quality. Forums are full of great recommendations. Jonna Ivin is delighted with her experience using them to publish Will Love For Crumbs (see her guest post on this topic). I plan to upload a project myself to give them a whirl in the near future.
Write now: if you haven’t already done so, visualize a completed volume of your life story. It may take the form of a collection of individual stories or a memoir integrating those stories into a unified account. You may be writing more about family history. Perhaps your book will include lots of photographs. Let your vision grow and pull you forward. Set up an account at CreateSpace to add magnetism to that goal.