typewriterLulu and CreateSpace are two very important self-publishing companies- and they have forced changes to the publishing industry. While CreateSpace is own by parent company Amazon, Lulu was founded by Bob Young, who was the owner of RedHat Inc.  While most people have heard of CreateSpace, there are benefits to Lulu as well if you are not as comfortable with building a book from the beginning.

With so many ways to publish, and this has also forced a change in the publishing industry at large: The Internet, Self-Publishing, Traditional Publishers, and formats: e-books, paperback, hardcover, that these days a writer can say with confidence they can self-publish a book the way they want and at the price they want.

It’s time for a few compare.  Before we do this, I want to make it clear it’s not about AuthorHouse, or Xlibris, but rather two companies which can let you self-publish your book at little or no cost, or you can choose to spend money to have a professional take care of parts you aren’t comfortable with.  They allow you to use your own ISBN- or not, and if you are comfortable with self-publishing offer the most choice.

The Interior:

CreateSpace: With CreateSpace you have two choices, do-it-yourself (you can download the template size) or pay $199 for a basic interior done.  Both are good options, but both are what you give to them is what you get from them.  This is not the pace where you edit- or add- this is the place where you get exactly what you are getting.  You’ll have to add your front matter, and your index and every other aspect before going through this process.

Lulu: With this company, there isn’t an option I could find on their website for a stand alone interior design choice.  It’s either do-it-yourself, or it’s a part of a package which begins at $999.  Like CreateSpace you will need to have everything ready to be put together, there isn’t much of an option for changes after you submit your book to them.

The Cover and Back Cover:

CreateSpace:  Here you have four choices as to what to for your cover page.  Here, you can choose to use one of their templates called “cover creator” or spend $399 for the custom cover, or $599 for the custom cover premier.  They also allow for outsourcing where for a starting price of your choice, a designer can do this for you.  Lastly they allow you to upload your own PDF file to their system.

Lulu: They also allow you to do-it-yourself, but at a cost. They too have a cover creator and will allow you to do pretty much most of what CreateSpace does, including using a template. If your book is about 100 pages, it might be about $4.05 per book to begin with, before you do any work on the cover, as they already add that into it at the beginning of the do it yourself process.  They also have a an elite cover design which starts at $599.  Or, as before, you can choose to opt for a package deal, and spend a minimum of $999.

So far, both companies give us choice and options.  For a person who is just beginning the self-publishing journey the question becomes what about packages?

Packages:

CreateSpace: They don’t, at the moment, have packages for a new publisher to choose from, and they allow you the choice to use your own ISBN or their ISBN.  They allow you to even choose where you want to distribute your, for example Amazon, or other companies such as Chapters Indigo or Barnes and Noble.  You can, however, make your own “package” based on your needs.  These include editing services, layout and design, and marketing.

Lulu: Offers packages, in this case, they begin at $999 and go upwards of $2,999.  It includes their own ISBN but, if you aren’t as comfortable with any part of the development of your book, these are good options.  I would recommend not purchasing anything above $999 however, since most people can create an author website with little or no trouble.

Marketing:

CreateSpace:  For a fee ranging from $199 and up, they will print business cards and other material, which is good, but most people can get much of this at a lower cost through places like VistaPrint or via templates on their computer.  Social networking is important, but CreateSpace doesn’t offer as much as others in the way of this media.

Lulu: For between $249 and $529, you can do much the same thing that CreateSpace offers, but at a higher cost than CreateSpace.  You can also for about $5,000 hire a social media expert to run a campaign for you.  However, the price is high, and most authors already have an author website, or a Twitter account, or a Facebook Author page, or even Google+ or LinkedIn.  Done correctly, it is easier and less expensive to do-it-yourself.

Which one would you use?

bricks of money
I personally am biased towards CreateSpace because it is closest to self-publishing I can currently get, beyond using LightingSource, where it is done completely on your own and you make and design everything from the ground up.  The one disadvantage is they don’t offer hardcover books, yet.

Lulu does have an advantage when it comes to publishing colour books, they are more professional and they seem to have been doing this part of the business for many years.  If I have a need for a colour book, or a hardcover back I would use Lulu, but use as much of the services as I can on my own.