Sum it Up, Con’t

Posted: February 6, 2011 in Self Publishing

To continue with summaries for self e-publishing options, we move on to what I would call my alternate options.  They’re not so much direct author-to-bookstore options as they are author-to middleman-to bookstore.  In other words, if I have the word right, they are aggregators.


  1. It sounds similar to Amazon as far as how you get your book formatted.  You upload a Word doc and cover image.  They do, however, offer a style guide on formatting that keeps things simple and you don’t have to use a program like Mobipocket or Calibre.  I have downloaded a couple of Smashwords books to my smart phone (free books, not ones I’ve had to pay for) and have noticed spaces missing sometimes between words, often enough that it was annoying.  I also found other mentions of the format not being as professional looking as some others.
  2. Another way it differs is the resulting file can be in just about any file format you want, while Amazon only produces a Kindle format.  You can then choose to publish them via the Smashwords website or have Smashwords “aggregate” them to most major e-sellers.
  3. There is no charge to create the book, but for books sold on their site, they get 15% of the net price–net price being whatever you’re selling the book for, minus the credit card processing fee.  For books that sell through retailers like iPad, Kobo, etc., Smashwords takes a 10% fee off whatever royalty you get from the retailer.


  1. Lulu seems to be primarily for self publishing hard copies of books, but they give you the option of printing an e-version as well.  The offer several packages of services and you can pick and choose how much you want them to do, and how much you want to pay.
  2. Their main benefit seems to be that they can aggregate to the iBookstore and since right now it doesn’t look like Apple is going to be that friendly toward direct from author publication, that’s not a small thing if you want to be an iPad warrior.  Like Smashwords, people can buy your book via their website or through any of the major distributors that Lulu can aggregate to.
  3. Lots of pricing options are offered depending on what package you choose.  There is also some fairly complicated numbers on how much of a cut Lulu gets from each book that is sold, depending on which bookstore it sells through.  Frankly, since I’ve already decided I’m not at all interested in Lulu, it’s not worth my time to write some of these percentages here.

I found three more e-publishing options I’d never heard of that I’ll list here, but I didn’t find them worthy of too much research or blog time.  There are many more if you really look, and someone who is really thorough or really loves researching could probably go on and on if this was their blog, but in my mind, if it’s too obscure to find easily by doing a few web searches, then it’s not big enough or easy enough for me to spend my time on.

That’s not to say that I’m not open to looking at other options if someone wants to do the work and let me know what they find.  For instance, I recently heard that a guy I know from a writing class I took has started his own publishing company which includes self publishing and even e-publishing options.  We’ve emailed and are going to get together sometime so he can tell me what New Libri is all about.  Who knows, maybe that’s where my best opportunity lies.  If anything develops in that direction, I’ll let you know.

In the meantime, here’s those other three I mentioned earlier:

Fast Pencil
Does print and ebook self publishing, or just ebook.  It has a template-based setup–you cut and paste your document into their template–or you upload an already formatted pdf.  They distribute widely to lot of stores, including the big ones.  They charge a publication fee and take a percentage of the royalty you get from the retailers.

Publish Green
Offers the same services as Fast Pencil except claims to offer a more hands-on approach, with “professional human e-book formatting.”  Reportedly they are able to get your ebook listed with some places that traditionally only take books from publishing companies as opposed to self publishers.

One site called it the fastest and easiest way to get an ebook on the Internet.  You create an account on their website, upload a pdf of your book and cover to the Scribd site, then it can then be viewed on a PC, the iPad, the web or even downloaded to your computer.  It also supports html coding for those that know that.


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