Hack 29 Publish POD and E-books

figs/moderate.gif figs/hack29.gif

Partner with Lightning Source and plug your book into the system.

Lightning Source works with publishers (that's you [Hack #27] ) to print and distribute books and e-books. Its POD facilities create paper books only when orders arrive, sparing you the trouble, risk, and expense of a large print run. Its secure e-book fulfillment service gives your readers more options and minimizes production costs. Distributing your book through Lightning Source will get it into the catalogs of Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and other retailers worldwide. Lightning Source is a subsidiary of Ingram Industries, which ties it to the awesome Ingram Book Group, so Lightning Source has firm footings and a broad network.

Wholesale distributors supply books to retailers, who then sell books to the public. Publishers rely heavily on wholesale distributors to get their books into readers' hands.

Lightning Source is not for everybody. It does not provide the many services you get from a for-fee publisher. Lightning Source simply takes your finished book, prints it, and distributes it. You are responsible for everything else, which includes registering an ISBN [Hack #27], typesetting your book to fit Lightning Source's specifications, and creating a suitable cover graphic. Not following Lightning Source's guidelines can cause frustration and additional expense. Guidelines and templates are available from http://www.lightningsource.com/ResourcesBookDesigner.htm.

To start, you must apply for an account at http://www.lightningsource.com. Upon acceptance, log in to upload your print-ready book and its cover art. This online account also enables you to order printed books, track your orders, and read sales reports.

Entering your book into the system requires a setup fee, which varies according to your book. For a 300-page book, your setup fee might be $100. Maintaining one book on Lightning Source's servers costs $12 per year.

A few days after entering your book into the system, you will receive a printed proof to examine and approve. Iron out any problems you discover with the proof, and then your book will be ready for printing. When using Lightning Source's distribution service, it could take two weeks or so for retailers to add your book to their catalogs. Meanwhile, you can order books directly from Lightning Source.

As the publisher, you control the suggested retail price of your book. You then sell your books to the wholesale distributor at a discounted, wholesale price. By giving Lightning Source a 55% discount, you leave room for them to extend an attractive discount to retailers. When you sell a book, Lightning Source charges you for printing, but not for shipping and handling. The price for printing a 300-page book is around $5 per book.

For a discussion on discount arithmetic, visit: http://julieduffy.com/writing/econo_discount.htm.

So, if we gave our hypothetical 300-page book a suggested retail price of $25, each sale through Lightning Source would pay 45% ($11.25) minus the $5 printing charge, or $6.25.

You can also sell e-book editions of your book through Lightning Source. There is no printing charge for these electronic editions.