My company has two books in print on Amazon.com and a third one being written. The books are self-published via Amazon’s print on demand (POD) service, CreateSpace. It’s a great service that is very easy to use. In a way, it’s sort-of a starter service for authors wanting to use print on demand who have limited time and resources to figure it out. So the advantage is how easy it is to get started. The disadvantage is that your visibility and distribution is limited to Amazon.com, Amazon affiliates and possibly a few other select sites, such as Target.com. This is assuming you want to use Amazon for all of your fulfillment work. If you want to purchase a bunch of copies and mail them out yourself, then that gives you more options, although it also means a lot more work.
Stepping up from Amazon, the next level of service is using a company like Lightning Source. Lightning Source provides the same basic service, printing and filling orders for books one at a time, but it offers much wider visibility. Lightning Source is owned by Ingram, a huge company in the publishing industry. When you print your books with Lightning Source, your books enter book catalogs for book stores all over the world to order from, including Barnes & Noble. So with Lightning Source, you get online distribution as well as real world visibility.
However, Lightning Source seems to be more particular about who they work with. The company is not really interested working with independent authors, but rather with independent publishing companies. Here is another major difference between Lightning Source and CreateSpace. When you publish with CreateSpace, if you don’t have a publishing company, CreateSpace becomes the publishing company. With Lightning Source, you must be a publishing company or be represented by a publishing company.
So Work Media is moving in that direction. We are in the process of creating a publishing company, and will begin selling through Lightning Source. It will give us much wider distribution of our books and greater real world visibility.
You could do the same thing. Write a book. Start a publishing company. Sign up with a print on demand company. It doesn’t have to be either of the ones discussed here. Those are the two that I am most familiar with, but there are lots more. A search on Google for “print on demand” will give you lots of companies to check out.
The main thing to keep in mind is that different companies offer different levels of service and different levels of ease of use. CreateSpace by Amazon is a great way to get started. There is no fee to create an account or add a book, other than a small fee you pay to order proof copies to inspect before the book goes live. And it will get you started, while you investigate options that may give you greater leverage on your time spent writing.
While we certainly don’t claim to be experts on the print on demand industry, we feel comfortable using it as a component of a wider online marketing plan. If you would like help integrating POD into your plan (or anything else to do with Internet marketing), contact Work Media at 888-299-4837 or firstname.lastname@example.org.