Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Some Lessons Learned from Paperback Publishing at Lightning Source

Hello everyone,

The paperback is out for Lucifer's Odyssey, and boy have I learned some very valuable lessons from the process--and I do mean VALUABLE. Others who go through Create Space will probably have a different experience as CS is a lot more friendly with submitting revisions.

First, there's something I guess you should understand about Lightning Source. It's a business that seems setup around making you pay a lot of money upfront for setting up a title, and it can be pretty brutal for someone with a steep learning curve. You may think that a paperback is just as simple as uploading a PDF and whammo--job done. Right? Not quite.

There is no preview box for the book or anyway to check margins for readability or anything like that on either the cover or the interior PDF (the contents of the book). My cover illustrator had offered to take care of the cover part, but that ended up being a huge hassle as the interface just wasn't as easy as I guess Create Space is. He tried uploading it maybe four times, and I had to keep submitting revisions. In the end, we both got frustrated, and I took over that part--applying their template for a 5x8 stock (which isn't actually 5x8 inches, btw).

Anyway, I finally tweak the cover and interior and away goes the proof. That's $110 well spent, right? Everything is ready to go.

Not so fast.

I get the proof, and the back text is not quite the way I need it to be on the cover (so big and wide across the back that it looks goofy). Even worse, the interior is set to .5 inch margin all around--which was their recommended setting. Turns out a .5 inch setting makes the interior edge extremely difficult to read. The inside edge is simply too deep into the binding.

So, not only am I changing the cover (35 dollars) and the interior (35 dollars), but I'm ordering another proof to make sure this .75 inch interior actually works (I asked Lindsay at LS, but she just said "Oh yeah, lots of clients seem to use that. You'll like it."). Thanks for not telling me on the first batch and saving me 35 bucks before the book is even out! LOL.

So, 220 dollars down the tube and the book isn't even out in the wild yet. No one has seen it, and there is no indication that anyone will ever buy it--even though I'm sure my family would probably pick up some paper copies. I still haven't told family and friends about this book yet, and I'm not sure when or if I ever will. We'll see. Anyway, I just learned a 110 dollar lesson that I wanted to share with you guys. The initial 110 was expected, so I'm not including that. The lesson comes from the additional expense that I hadn't expected that was mostly due to the illegibility of the inside edge (which their customer service rep could have told me about during her proofing of the book).

Oh well, lesson learned. I found a typo since then, but I'm sorry, that will just have to wait until the 2nd edition--likely next year after my wedding because I'm running on fumes right now.

But you know what's really sick and twisted? Despite the cost, I'm totally stoked about it. I love the Matte finish, and from what I understand, CS just didn't have that. That being said, if a debut author ran up to me and asked me what they should do for paperback when starting out, I'd tell them definitely go with CS first. Less up front cost and it will give you practice on what to look out for with internal margins and such before you get in the hole early. Stupid hole.

Anyway, here's a webified version of the final upload. Lucifer's Odyssey is finally complete... for now...

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