Platforms and Sizes and Bindings, oh, my!

Mention self-publishing and most people instantly think “Amazon.” Why? Because they were the first of their kind, they are the largest and everyone knows them.


But, there is the rub. Everyone knows them. What they don’t know is that Amazon is merely the tip of the iceberg.


My personal favorite is They pay higher royalties to customers who buy directly from them. So, all that effort you are putting into social media and other marketing efforts might generate more income if you drove traffic to your Lulu site and had them buy directly from there.


Plus, Lulu does distribute to Amazon, in most cases, and to Barnes & Noble. Remember that, if you publish only through Createspace, your book will not be published on Barnes & Noble for one very simple reason. Amazon owns Createspace.


So, in terms of sheer distribution, you are better off with Lulu. Probably.


The most important thing to know about making choices is that many terms are not literal. For instance, Kindle offers a new Textbook Creator and a Kindle Kids Book Creator. Obviously, these are digital books but think outside the box.


Kindle doesn’t actually recognize a textbook. It’s just a term. I am experimenting with it because the Textbook Creator recognizes layers. That means you can create a digital book with an art background, with text that remains text. Since you do not have to flatten layers, the text remains searchable.


Ah, now I see the lightbulb going on.


Textbook Creator can also be used for designing digital coloring books. As is. Although, if I were creating a coloring book for kids or for adults, I would use Lulu’s spiral bound option.


Now, we’re back into print text. The spiral bound option is just one of the things I love about Lulu. Some things just need to lay flat, especially manuals. Or cookbooks. Or coloring books.


You can print them with Lulu. But, Amazon won’t carry spiral bound books. From anywhere, as far as I know.


That’s still not a problem. You can sell directly from Lulu. Like I said, use the same marketing approach. If people are already finding you on Amazon, you don’t need to be marketing anyway. Right? Of course, if they are finding you by the hundreds, it probably means you are already a best-selling author who is doing press junkets and living out of a suitcase.


The other thing I love – and I mean absolutely adore – is that Lulu will print books with dust jackets.


Oooh. Makes me swoon. Don’t you just love a hardback book with a beautiful dust jacket? Is there really anything quite like it?


I can’t find anyone else who offers self-publishers the dust jacket option. That alone makes me biased in their favor.


Lulu has some other options that Createspace doesn’t. Createspace, according to their documentation, farms out their printing to different vendors. In fact, if you read the fine print, you will learn that they work with multiple vendors and different runs of your book may look different. But, the same, because they will always be shiny with a “paperback” cover.


Lulu may, or may not, sub-contract their printing services. But, my experience has been that my books are always identical, regardless of the run.


Because of Lulu’s flexibility, they offer things like “calendars.” I put that in quotes because a calendar does not have to be a calendar. All Lulu calendars are available in full color, spiral bound. The small, landscaped letter-size calendar is available for documents ranging from a mere ten pages all the way up to 470 pages. That’s a big spiral. I’d kind of like to see one.


They also offer what they call their Premium Calendar. That page range for this one is between seven and 73 pages. But, it is a color printed documented 135” x 19”. Oh, my. Doesn’t that just make you want one?


hack Lulu will let you create custom-size documents. Pretty much any size. Just talk to them. If you plan to sell directly from Lulu, go for it! Amazon won’t carry your book—but it doesn’t matter, because you’re going to market it the same anyway.


Regardless of which size “calendar” you choose, BREAK THE RULES. Lulu does not actually check to make sure there are dates and days of the week on your calendar. They don’t care as long as your document fits the print dimensions.


If the size fits, apply it to your project. Lulu is so incredibly flexible. They will print “Comic Book” size documents. That just means a 6.25” x 10.25” document, perfect bound, between 32 and 740 pages. But, again, put your thinking cap on. If you’re going to flatten layers anyway, consider a saddle-stitched book. It’ll be more like a comic book. Amazon won’t carry it. But, again, that’s okay.


There are more options coming. Watch for Glass Tree text books. I’ll keep you posted!