For beginners and indie authors, self-publishing our own books may seem like the more sensible approach. If you have just finished writing your first book, reaching a publishing house may seem intimidating. Besides, the royalty rates of traditional publishers are notoriously low. Unless you happen to deliver a best-selling hit, authors on traditional publishers can’t really be certain about cash flow in the future. And there are the tricky contract clauses that may sneakily take over some rights of your work. Having to deal with these slippery contract clauses is excruciatingly tiring.
Because of all those reasons, self-publishing our own books can be a better way to go. It will require some extra effort, but it gives much better control to your hand. Self-publishing is now no longer as difficult as several years ago; in fact, there are now several online self-publishing services widely used by both beginners and professional indie authors. Two of the most popular options are CreateSpace and Lulu. Below, we are going to see about the comparisons between CreateSpace and Lulu in order to see which one is the best self-publishing platform on the market right now.
Right now, CreateSpace is the most common online self-publishing service used by indie authors, so there’s no surprise if you have been recommended by several other fellow authors to use it. CreateSpace actually belongs to Amazon, and just like its parent company, CreateSpace has constructed a reputation for the high standard of service. It is also praised for the incredibly flexible service. CreateSpace provides several service packages, but it also provides standalone services. For example, if you can handle the graphic design by yourself, you can exclude the graphic design services from the purchase. This method can be more cost-efficient in several cases.
Lulu is very close behind CreateSpace in terms of popularity. Lulu is an online print-on-demand distribution and self-publishing platform founded by Bob Young, one of the co-founders of Red Hat, Inc. As a matter of fact, the Print Wikipedia project was done on Lulu in 2015.
Pros of Lulu
Lulu comes with an excellent, very navigable and user-friendly system. Lulu provides a guided step-by-step process to help you prepare and self-publish your own book. Everything is very intuitive and neat. It provides several cover options for your book, which can be classified into paperbacks and hardcovers. And this makes one of the advantages of Lulu over CreateSpace: Lulu can publish your book with hardcovers. CreateSpace does not print with hardcovers. So, if you really want to get your book with hardcovers, Lulu is the way to go. The paperback options include the perfect bound, coil bound, and saddle stitch, while the hardcover options include the case wrap and dust jacket. There also various sizes available for you to choose from.
Lulu’s procedure is very quick and straightforward. You’ll get your book approved and ready for printing in no time, as they don’t make you wait while they are checking the files. For paperback uploads, Lulu can automatically convert the book to an e-book format. And Lulu can distribute your books to Amazon.
Cons of Lulu
In general, Lulu is more expensive than CreateSpace. For example, the Globalreach program, which puts your book in Barnes & Noble as well as other stores, costs $75. Due to the expensive pricing, the retail price of your book may become more expensive as well. In addition, Lulu does not check your book for printing consistency; you have to make sure that you get everything right by yourself. Even though Lulu accepts several document formats, PDF seems to be the best choice, as the other formats tend to get completely whacked after uploaded. And the spine has no artwork. The spine is very basic, some white text on a black background.
Perhaps the biggest drawback of Lulu is that, if you want them to give your book an ISBN, you have to let them become the exclusive publisher with exclusive publication rights of your book. That means you won’t be able to distribute your books to as many channels as possible. And also, even though Lulu provides several options for your royalty payment, you will have to send your tax information manually if you want your royalty to be processed.
Pros of CreateSpace
Just like Lulu, CreateSpace also has a very user-friendly system. Well, CreateSpace even goes further by providing two ways to publish your book: the Guided step-by-step process and the Expert streamlined single-page GUI. The quality of the print is very good, although CreateSpace does not provide hardcovers like Lulu. On the good side, if you have designed your own cover, it allows you to upload that, and it includes your artwork on the spine.
Unlike Lulu, CreateSpace checks your files before they go for the print. This is very convenient. Well, the checking takes up to 48 hours, but it ensures that there is no error in your book and automatically corrects minor mistakes such as transparency. It even checks if your image is at least 320dpi. There is an online tool that enables you to see how your book is going to look after printed and to make a correction if there is an error.
Finally, CreateSpace is generally cheaper than Lulu, allowing the retail price of your book to be cheaper, too. Unlike Lulu, CreateSpace does not want to be the publisher of anyone’s book, which means that it does not restrict you to distribute your own books on other channels. Finally, CreateSpace allows you to submit tax information online, thanks to the technology of digital signature.
Cons of CreateSpace
The first weakness of CreateSpace is that they only print in the US. It may take forever to get your copy of the book if you live in a different country – and don’t forget about the shipping cost. The second is that the payment options are somewhat limited. For several countries, the only way to receive royalty payments is by checks.
|- Only paperback covers, but can print the artwork on the spine||- Paperbacks and hardcovers, but can’t print the artwork on the spine|
|- Generally more affordable||- Generally more expensive|
|- Can assign ISBN without requiring to be the exclusive publisher||- Can assign ISBN but it becomes the publisher with exclusive rights|
|- Checks your file uploads to ensure your book is error-free||- Does not check your files; you have to make sure yourself that things are right before uploading|
|- Online tax information submission||- Manual tax information submission|
In general, CreateSpace is the better option than Lulu. It is generally cheaper, and it does not ask to be the exclusive publisher of your book. The print quality is fairly good, and it can print the artwork on the spine. Perhaps the best advantages are the checking and the online tax information submission. However, if you really want to get your book in hardcovers and don’t care about ISBN, Lulu can be your choice.