Maybe you’ve done your research and have decided that to give your book a fair shot in the competition against mainstream published books, you need to use a distributor like Lightning Source. If so, here are some tips to help you set up!
1) Make sure all your files are perfect, unimpeachable, eternal. Unfortunately, unlike Createspace where you can keep uploading new versions, and you order a proof copy specifically so that you can adjust your files and improve it – Lightning Source is a one shot deal. It costs roughly $120 the first time you set up; after that you pay $40 everytime you submit a new file (so if you want to update your cover and interior, that’s an $80 fine. It doesn’t matter if you haven’t “approved” the book and it isn’t available yet – you still have to pay. So make sure you do everything right, hire pros if you need to.
2) There is a “processing fee” for every book you order from Lightning Space! So while is is much cheaper than Lulu (and a little more expensive than Createspace) you’ll pay an extra $1.50 or so on each book/order (it may just be per order, so if you order 20 books for yourself, it’s probably a good deal. Way cheaper than Lulu. But if you are sending out review copies to different reviewers, the price adds up.
3) Sending out copies from Lightning Source is kind of a pain; you need to go through and add contact addresses to your address book, then use those addresses to make a new order. After going through this process for about 20 people, I’m burnt out. Not a good way to send out books.
Is Lightning Source Worth It?
A month ago, I would have said “yes”. It’s the only way to get your book out there available to the “Big Boys”. (I wanted to do hardcovers and CreateSpace doesn’t offer that option. Hardcovers are much snazzier and can hook the attention of reviewers and publishers at book fairs.) But they probably have enough on their hands anyway. As an indie publisher, you need to focus on getting your book to your readers at the lowest possible cost and investment.
I probably won’t do it again for my upcoming novels, but may do it again for serious non-fiction. Just know going into that it hurts your wallet and is difficult to figure out. In their defense, their customer service and response has been exceedingly helpful.