As promised, here are the results of my research into all the self publishing options for authors in the UK. At the end of this post you can download a pdf chart comparing the top self publishing companies and printers, with the pros and cons of each choice. But first I’ll tell you a little bit about what I learned overall.
The way I see it, there are two options for UK author/publishers: use an author solutions company which will do most of it for you (except write the book, of course) or become a kind-of-publisher and do it all yourself. I chose the second route, selecting Lightning Source as my printer, and although this route requires more effort and time, it is not as hard as you might think.
From the second route, there are another two options when it comes to getting your book into print (there are, in fact, hundreds of options, but I’m talking about the two which rose to the top as I carried out my own research – don’t take my word for it if you’d rather do your own). The first is CreateSpace, and the second is Lightning Source.
CreateSpace is now even more perfect for authors in the UK as they have very recently updated their service so books can go for sale on Amazon.co.uk very quickly – and these books are printed in the UK so shipping costs to readers are low, or even free. When I ordered my sample back in April, it was shipped from the US costing me £10.00 overall for a book that would have been much cheaper if not for shipping. More recently I ordered a copy of Talli Roland’s Build A Man from Amazon, publisher CreateSpace, and this arrived very quickly and was more on a par price-wise with other books from Amazon.
ISBNs are free if you use CS as your publisher. If you want to use your own imprint it’s £6 but you won’t be able to use this ISBN if you ever take the book to another publisher. Why might this matter? It won’t really. If your book becomes a bestseller and one of the big publishers want it, they’ll happily provide you with a new ISBN and a sparkly new cover (even if you don’t want one!). It’s £60 for an ISBN you can use anywhere – but this is counter-intuitive as ISBNs cost around £18 each if you buy 10. (You are going to write 10 books over your entire career, aren’t you? They don’t go out of date.)
I’m pretty sure CS use Lightning Source in the UK to print their UK copies, because the format, sizes, paper options and costs per book are exactly the same. But at the time of writing, CS proof copies and author copies are printed in a facility in the US and shipped from there. This may change in the future. In the UK you don’t need their new Expanded Distribution unless you are targeting mainly US markets and US libraries.
So why, if CS are so great – and free! – did I choose Lightning Source? Two things: I wanted my book to be orderable from local bookshops as well as on Amazon, and I really, really wanted a matt laminated cover. And I just like LS – I liked the fact that I had to jump through a couple of hoops to set up as a publisher: for my business model this makes sense and streamlines the process for the future. But if not for this, CS is the best option, and getting better all the time.
OK, so download the chart Companies compared, and watch out in the future (I can’t say when but I’m working on it) for more articles about setting up your book for print – typesetting in Word, cover design, ISBNs … my knowledge base is now huge and I’m sharing it all with you.