Lightning Source vs. CreateSpace


UPDATE (27 Jan 2011): Basically, most of this blog post is redundant because I’ve decided to switch to LSI (for some of my print books) — that’s the better choice for long term > short term. CS was/is great to begin with, but I’d be taking the next step sooner or later ;)

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I’ve been hovering up and down with expanded (print) distribution — I think I’ll try out CreateSpace’s expanded distribution ($39 upgrade per title), for two books first (EyeLeash: A Blog Novel, and The Other Side of Life). I am not exactly sure where exactly the print copies will turn up (besides the other Amazon outlets, such as,, etc.), but I guess I’ll find out in a few weeks’ time.

My case is a little bit unusual, due to the content/themes/lack of literary morality in my more transgressive projects (I love that word: ‘transgressive’). I think LSI would be a good choice for commercial mainstream/genre fiction. I’d consider 4:Play to be both literary/commercial erotica, but I’m not really keen to spend the time/money to set it up on LSI, if it’s eventually going to disappear from other distributors’ websites as well.

Personally, I’m still a bit hesitant to enroll all of my titles for print, via Lightning Source straight ($70 processing fee + $30 shipping fee, per title, and $12 per year per title for inclusion in digital catalog, + ISBN fees). I’d only consider ONE of my print titles right now to be more “mainstream/commercial” than alternative/unusual — and since Amazon’s begun to remove/delete products without warning/explanation, I wouldn’t be surprised if other distributors followed suit. Therefore, I’m not really sure I’d like to come up with the higher upfront fees for LSI, when a lot of my erotica books could be similarly (unceremoniously) pulled across various distributors (which is what one is essentially paying for re: LSI, I think).

So right now…I intend to “try CreateSpace’s expanded distribution” for two titles (would be nice to see them available internationally / not just on Amazon!)…and have my deviant material available for purchase via Lulu (for print copies). I sell more digital than print copies (ratio of 10-15 : 1), but *I* still like having print copies of books, so ideally, I’d like to at least have my material available somewhere, for old school readers/customers like myself who really like having the tangible object (not just as a soft copy). I guess those pieces on Lulu might be something like “collectible items” then, heh.

Since I have a Lulu account / store front, I suppose I might just upload all of my books there in time (since different people shop at different places). I think I’ll continue to attack whichever projects I feel like doing first — it’s a good thing there’s a balance between erotic vs. non-erotic work, since I can’t always be checking all over the place to see if my erotic work “is still online.” I think I’ll complete a few more titles, then see to jessINK. I like doing the hard/difficult work first, lol.

P.S. I wouldn’t really call it TRUE independent publishing when the POD party has the final say as to whether they’ll print/publish the project, but that’s just me. I am quite unimpressed with Amazon (in the sense that Lolita, Delta of Venus, and Marquis de Sade’s works are still available for purchase — no doubt these are literary classics, but if incest-themed / books with “offensive content” are going to be banned/deleted, then ALL books with this content should be pulled), but I’ll take this chance to say that such policies make no difference to my writing perspectives (which I might elaborate on further, via an article on jessINK, once the website’s finally up…).

The bulk of my erotic work isn’t plain porn, and it’s what my customers seek. I’m not going to alter my characters’ voices/views just because someone else said I should. Besides, I watch enough of (the awesome-tastic) ID Channel to notice there’s been at least two closeted homosexuals on Twisted, who embarked on killing sprees (targets = dozens of young, good-looking gay men). Did sexual repression have anything to do with their homicidal actions?

I make three assumptions:

1. We are all supposed to believe that sexual repression leading to violence, aggression, etc. = A Casual Coincidence.

2. The power of fantasy is potentially more offensive/criminal than the actual act committed (looking at some of the laws with regards to ‘threatening emails’ vs. ‘rape and murder’, for instance).

3. (not my words): “A [sexually deviant criminal] internalizĀ­es all that sexual energy (that everybody has at that age) and it twists, contorts, rots his/her insides, and makes him/her do really weird stuff. We (in the U.S.) end up paying $65,000 a year to put him/her away in jail, and as a result end up with an uneducated ex-convict that is probably twice as crazy and has now learned to be violent. Great system!” — courtesy of calina @ Huffington Post

P.P.S. If I had the time, I’d sit down and hand-make each print book (as and when orders came in). Takes the concept of ‘book art’ to another whole level!

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More Links (LSI vs. CS vs. Lulu):

1. Lulu vs. CreateSpace: Which Is More Economical For The DIY Author? (by April L. Hamilton)

2. Lightning Source 101 – Its Role in Self Publishing (by Aaron Shepard)

3. POD self-publishing options: Lulu vs. CreateSpace vs. Lightning Source (by duskpeterson)


4 thoughts on “Lightning Source vs. CreateSpace

  1. Use LSI. Who cares about the cost. Really.

    $70 setup, $12 a year to list a title, and that $30 thing is optional. I used it once and never again. Email me and we’ll talk.

    In the end, would you rather make $3-4 a book, or $6-8? Would you rather be listed everywhere online or only at Amazon?

    Sell books to customers direct and make up to $10 a book (or more). And if you print your own books for whatever purpose, LSI is good on shipping costs, in turn–due to the lower per unit print cost–allowing you to even do booksignings and profit even with the store taking 40% for a consignment book. They also have volume printing sales, all-the-time specials and more. (ie. print 50 copies, save 5% per unit.)

    Seriously. I’ve been using LSI for close to 8 years and wouldn’t be self-pubbing fulltime if it wasn’t for them.

    LSI is the way to go for self-publishing bar none.

    Please don’t fall into the trap of “I don’t want to spend any money” and then take the “cheap” way by using Createspace, which in the end gouges you per unit and makes waaaay more than you do per book sale. So, actually, you’ll end up spending more money paying them over the long haul than you ever would on your setup fees with LSI.

    LSI also keep YOU in control. I wouldn’t trust Createspace–a subsidy publisher–with my life.

    Just food for thought.


    *KINDLE SALE* The Entire AXIOM-MAN SAGA is onsale for .99 cents each at Amazon. Go here to find out more. Thanks!


    • Hi A.P.,

      Thanks so much for all the advice! I was going to go with CS for convenience > set-up costs + time right now, but can see the long-term benefits of using LSI.

      CreateSpace’s expanded distribution does not list only on the Amazon outlets (though I’m not sure if that was the case when it was first made available). I initially did use CS “for starters” — perhaps I will make the jump to LSI [(since CS prints via LSI anyway / point taken about not going the cheap way initially too (and how this becomes disadvantageous over time)]. I was very lured by the convenience of the “upgrade to pro” option in the CS account…


  2. Hi Jess – You’re selling 10 or 15:1 for ebooks vs. print? And then, how much are you making per print book? You can email me if you like. I just never thought there was anything to be made by jumping into CS or LSI. If you’re making enough per book though – yeah, it would be worth it.

    Cheers, MF


    • Hi Mike,

      That 10/15 : 1 ratio was for EyeLeash and 4:Play (the latter is now off Amazon; an edited “special edition” was approved though). Will try to email soon! Trying to clean up one short story today -_- [very slow moving…].


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