If you Google “self publish a book”, you’ll see all the commercial leaders: CreateSpace, (Amazon’s self publishing division), Lulu, Xlibris, and more. CreateSpace and the others cater specifically to authors who want to directly access printing and publishing services. They have user-friendly websites with simple requirements. If you don’t have your book adequately prepared, they are happy to sell you supplementary author services. They will design your cover, sell or give you an ISBN, and offer you marketing services, too.
Your Google search won’t reveal Lightning Source. Why not? Lightning Source emphatically doesn’t market to authors. Their niche is for publishers, people in the business of publishing books for commercial distribution. The website is nearly impenetrable to the casual browser, requiring an account login before you can learn about pricing or print specifications. One must apply for an account by passing a quiz on your publishing experience (!) and then following up with an account rep.
So why bother with Lightning Source? Because they are the biggest print on demand (POD) supplier in the United States, supplying books to brick and mortar bookstores and fulfilling the orders of online booksellers such as amazon.com and barnes&noble.com. As a division of Baker & Taylor, your book is listed in the B&T catalog, and that puts you on amazon.com, barnes&noble.com, etc. (The only retailer that does not sell Lightning Source books is borders.com.)
No matter where your book order is placed, Lightning Source will print and ship your book in one day. Even better, you don’t have to pay for shipping This fast, reliable, free order fulfillment is wonderful for authors. If you’ve ever tried to sell your own offset printed books, or if you have been responsible for shipping costs from POD online stores, you know this is fantastic.
A wide distribution, easy order fulfillment… what more could an author want? Higher profits, of course. With Lightning Source, you can sell your book on amazon.com at a “short discount” of 20%. That means amazon.com will take a smaller cut; just 20%, off the cover price of a Lightning Source book, while they take 35% or more from a CreateSpace book!
For all these reasons, self publishing through Lightning Source can be the best game in town – in certain cases. Look for my upcoming blog, “Is Lightning Source Right for Your Book?”