Category: Self-publishing

Places to Publish: Ingram Spark

Ingram Spark is a platform for publishing print and electronic books. Like CreateSpace and Lulu, Ingram Spark is a print on demand publisher, which I covered in an earlier article.

Pricing

Ingram Spark charges a $49 setup fee to use their service. There’s also a book printing cost, which depends on the number of pages and the type of interior: black and white or color. The Ingram Spark website has an online tool to calculate the printing costs.

I’ll use the same example I’ve been using in the Places to Publish series. You are publishing a 300 page paperback book with a 6 by 9 inch trim size and perfect binding. The book has a black and white interior. Ingram Spark charges $5.35 to print the book, which is almost $1 more than CreateSpace ($4.45) and slightly more than Lulu ($5.25).

You can use Ingram Spark to handle customer orders. A customer places an order. Ingram Spark prints the book and ships it to the customer. When I used Ingram Spark’s tool to calculate printing and shipping costs for the hypothetical 300 page book, they charged a $1.65 handling fee plus shipping. The shipping costs depend on the customer’s location and the shipping method. The shipping costs ranged from $3.80 to $56.46 for me.

With Ingram Spark you can also sell your books at online and physical bookstores. You have to discount the book to bookstores. If you sell your 300 page book for $20 and offer a 50% discount to bookstores, you would get the following amount from a sale:

20 - (20 * .5) - 5.35 = $4.65

$4.65 is more than what you get for selling at outside bookstores with CreateSpace ($3.55) or Lulu ($3.80) in this example.

Strengths

You can reach lots of bookstores with Ingram Spark and make more on each sale at those stores than you would with CreateSpace or Lulu.

Weaknesses

You have to pay an upfront fee to use Ingram Spark.

You get less money selling books on Amazon than you would get if you use CreateSpace.

Summary

Ingram Spark is a good complement to CreateSpace for selling print books. Use Ingram Spark to sell your print book on your website and at bookstores. Use CreateSpace to sell on Amazon.

Places to Publish: Lulu

Lulu is a place to publish print and electronic books. Lulu is a print on demand publisher, similar to CreateSpace, which I covered in an earlier article. Supply a PDF of your book, and Lulu prints a copy when someone orders your book.

Pricing

Lulu takes a percentage of each sale. For a print book start by taking the price of the book and subtracting the cost to print the book. If you sell the book at Lulu’s bookstore, Lulu takes 20% of what’s left after subtracting the print cost.

The print cost depends on many things, including the trim size, the binding, and the interior. A 6 by 9 inch paperback book that is perfect bound and has a black and white interior costs $2.45 for 100 pages plus 1.4 cents for each additional page. Each extra 100 pages costs $1.40

I’ll use the same example I used in the CreateSpace article. You are publishing a 300 page paperback book with a 6 by 9 inch trim size and perfect binding. You are selling the book for $20. The cost to print the book is $5.25. Here’s how much you would get for selling the book on Lulu’s bookstore.

Net price: 20 - 5.25 = $14.75

Lulu's take: 14.75 * .20 = $2.95

What you get: 14.75 - 2.95 = $11.80

You can also sell outside Lulu at sites like Amazon and Barnes and Noble. But you have to discount your book by 50%. Lulu takes 20% of what’s left after the discount and the printing costs. Here’s how much you would get for selling your 300 page book for $20 on Amazon or another bookstore.

Net price: 20 - 10 (50% discount) - 5.25 = $4.75

Lulu's take: 4.75 * .20 = $0.95

What you get: 4.75 - .95 = $3.80

Strengths

You get more money selling print books on Lulu’s bookstore and non-Amazon bookstores than you would get with CreateSpace. CreateSpace takes their cut (20% or 60%) from the book price. Lulu takes their cut (20%) after subtracting the cost of printing the book and bookseller discounts.

Weaknesses

You get less money selling books on Amazon than you would get if you use CreateSpace.

Readers who are unaware of your book’s existence are unlikely to stumble upon it at Lulu.

Summary

Lulu is a good complement to CreateSpace for selling print books. Use Lulu to sell your print book on your website and at bookstores. Use CreateSpace to sell on Amazon.

Places to Publish: Leanpub

Leanpub is a place to publish ebooks. Leanpub’s defining feature is they allow you to publish works in progress. You can show early drafts to readers to get their feedback.

To best use Leanpub, write your book in Markdown. Using Markdown makes the book formatting easier. Markdown may sound tricky, but if you’re publishing a novel, your book is mostly going to be plain text paragraphs.

Pricing

Leanpub charges a fee of $99 per book.

Leanpub also takes a percentage of each sale. They take 10% of the book price plus 50 cents. If you sell an ebook for $10, you receive $8.50. In this example Leanpub takes 15% of the book price, half of what Amazon and Apple take.

Leanpub does not publish print books, but you can generate a PDF to publish at CreateSpace or another print on demand publisher.

Strengths

Leanpub lets you publish and sell works in progress.

You can let your customers choose how much they want to pay for your book.

Leanpub’s royalty rate is higher than Amazon or Apple’s.

Weaknesses

You can get a higher royalty rate by creating a website and selling your ebook there.

Readers who are unaware of your book’s existence are unlikely to stumble upon it at Leanpub. This problem isn’t specific to Leanpub. Most online book publishing services have a storefront of books to buy, but the average person isn’t aware of these storefronts. A reader who buys your book from Leanpub is probably going to get there from a link on your website.

Summary

Using Leanpub is a great way to get feedback from readers as you write your book. Leanpub also provides a way to easily produce electronic and print versions of a book and sell the electronic version.

Website Hosting Introduction

After finishing my Places to Publish: FastSpring post, I realized people may have questions on hosting a website for their books. I’ve written this article to provide an introduction to website hosting. I’m going to focus on three categories of hosting:

  • Shared hosting
  • Virtual private servers
  • Dedicated servers

Disk Space and Bandwidth

When you look at hosting providers, two terms will jump out at you: disk space and bandwidth (some hosts use the term transfer instead of bandwidth). Disk space is the amount of space you get for your website. You won’t have to worry about disk space unless you’re hosting long videos on your site. Virtually every hosting provider gives you at least 10 GB of disk space.

Bandwidth is the amount of traffic your website can handle. More bandwidth allows more people to visit your website.

Suppose your author website consists of the following items:

  • A home page with 2 MB of content.
  • Three other pages with 1 MB of content each.
  • A book sample to download (3 MB)

Your site would use 8 MB of disk space: 2 MB for the home page, 3 MB for the other pages, and 3 MB for the book sample.

Bandwidth is a little more difficult to calculate because it depends on what a visitor accesses. If someone visits your home page, that’s 2 MB of bandwidth. If another person visits your home page and downloads the book sample, that’s 5 MB of bandwidth. A third person who visits all your pages and downloads the sample uses 8 MB of bandwidth. 1 GB of bandwidth is enough for 125 people to view the whole site and download the book sample. 1 TB of bandwidth is enough for 125,000 people to view the whole site and download the book sample.

Shared Hosting

With shared hosting your website shares a server with a bunch of other websites. It sounds bad, but most websites don’t get much traffic so you don’t have to worry about other people’s websites hogging the server.

I recommend starting with shared hosting for two reasons. First, it’s the least expensive option. Second, shared hosting providers provide the most site management service. With shared hosting you can focus on adding content to your site.

Shared hosting generally costs $5-$20 per month. Higher priced plans allow you to host more websites and provide unlimited email addresses.

There are many shared hosting providers. Here’s a short list of providers to get you started.

Virtual Private Servers

A virtual private server (VPS) gives you a slice of a server. You get part of the server’s memory and CPU along with disk space and a bandwidth allowance. The cost of hosting depends on how big a slice you want, but it generally costs $10-$100 a month. $10 a month will give you 1-2 GB of RAM and 1 CPU core. $40 a month will give you 4-8 GB of RAM and 2-4 CPU cores.

The upside of VPS hosting is your website has access to more computer power, letting your site handle more traffic. The downside of VPS hosting is you have to do more site management. If you start to get thousands of visitors a day to your site, switching to a VPS would make sense.

Some of the hosts I listed in the Shared Hosting section also provide VPS hosting. The following hosts specialize in VPS hosting:

If you’re going to use email on your site, I recommend WebFaction because they manage an email server for you. Most VPS hosts don’t manage email for you. To send and receive emails on your site, you would need to set up and manage an email server yourself.

Dedicated Servers

Dedicated hosting gives you the entire server. Because you’re getting a whole computer, the hosting costs are higher. The cost depends on the computer. The more powerful the computer, the higher the cost, but prices start at $50 a month and can cost hundreds of dollars a month. Some of the lower cost plans require you to buy the computer. You buy the computer and spend $50 a month for the hosting.

I don’t recommend starting with a dedicated server because of the high costs. If you start to get 10,000 or more visitors a day to your website, then it would be time to look into a dedicated server.