Publishers who use LuLu (1 Viewer)

I was curious as to what the score was with this. I think LuLu is a great resource for people to self-publish work that might not otherwise get printed; however, what I'm slightly in the dark about are small press publishers who use the service.

As a writer you submit your poetry/novel, etc to one of these presses. They format the writing, maybe offer some edits, and then upload it into one of LuLu's templates. They add some artwork and then Bob's your uncle there is a book for sale (well, a facility which will print your book). It seems from reading the submission guidelines for some of these presses that as an author you either get a handful of contributor copies, or in some cases nothing. In return you get a varying level of quality with the artwork and your book on a website for people to buy.

So, what worth is there in this? Is this just a thinly disguised vanity publishing, or do you think there is actually some worth in these presses? As someone who invests hundreds of pounds of my own money in each book I produce, I question how highly we can regard a press who don't appear to put any real time or money into a book they publish.

Am I way off base with this? Can someone explain to me why you would go through a middleman to do what you could do on your own, and through doing so get any proceeds directly. I've had personal experience of someone appearing to accrue profits off of mine and others writing, while at the same time stating they can't afford to either pay or provide free copies to authors.

I'm not sure where I'm going with this, but in a week in which I've received beautiful books from Bospress, Blackheath Books, and Tangerine Press, I found myself questioning these other so-called small press operators.
well, if you think of what a publisher is supposed to provide, printing is only one component of that. so, in theory, a press who is very good at editing, promoting, and distributing books could make good use of Lulu as the printer if they didn't want to fill up their house with boxes of books that they planned to ship to bookstores and distributors over the next three years. for chance press, it would make no sense, since our goal is bookmaking, and we're only "publishers" inasmuch as we offer the books we make for sale when they're done. as far as distribution and promotion goes, we aren't very active, so i can see why a press on the other end of the spectrum would look down their nose at us as glorified hobbyists the same way i (sometimes, but not really) look down my nose at publishers who make cheap, shitty looking books. both have their place.

that said, there are some publishers, like you said, who don't offer contributor's copies (although some do generously give you a discount code for ordering your own book), and i consider those publishers to be vanity presses. once you have to pay money for your own book (unless, of course, you're buying extra copies beyond your allotment from the publisher), you're working with a vanity press, end of story. i see very little difference in running an online poetry blog/website and publishers who operate this way. you're either uploading the writing into wordpress or into lulu's 'build a book' template, but the effort - not to mention the resources - required is virtually the same. i don't think these presses shouldn't exist, since all of them that i've seen are up front about what they do, and so they aren't ripping anyone off or taking advantage of them, but i do sometimes wonder what the point of getting into publishing is if you're unwilling to invest any resources in the authors you're publishing. for me it's about loving the work you publish to the point that you'll risk quite a bit for that work to see print. if you can get the money up front (via kickstarter), even better - you're still sticking your neck out for the work you're publishing. but if you can't stand the thought of losing even a dollar on a free copy to a contributor, and if you only publish authors who actively promote their own work (another common requirement), and you never touch and feel the fruits of your own labor, i guess i just don't see the point of it all.
I think you probably covered off the whole spectrum there. I suppose it is the latter point that you make which is what I was pondering over, but I take your point over publisher Vs book maker. I'm hoping on finding a place somewhere between making beautiful books and being able to provide a decent run of each publication. I'm a long way off of that, but someone did buy me a book for Christmas called "So you want to become a Big Cat Publisher of fine and dandy little books" (or something like that).
My opinion, if it matters, is that I have a specific problem with LuLu (or maybe I'm thinking about Xlibris) and other POD printers for the abuses that I have seen in the business. I'll give you an example:

"Poetry Anthology Publisher" decides to put out an anthology and puts out the word. Poems are sent in and accepted. Anthology has the work of 100 poets. The publisher then lets the authors know that the book is available, but because of poetry being hard to sell (and it is...) anyone interested can buy copies directly from LuLu for (let's say $14.95). All 100 poets want to have at least one copy of the book that they are in, plus they let their parents and others know.

Sounds all on the up-and-up. They are buying from LuLu, and that is that.

From what I can tell, the publisher gets copies for a few dollars each, so in reality, they are making a lot of money for never even touching the book. If they do a lot of selecting, editing and formatting it could be well worth them profiting, but you can see how someone could set out to publish a book not giving two shits about the content, only with the 100 poets purchases as the payoff. They could accept just about anyone's poems as long as they smell enough desperation to warrant a sale or two.

There is a big (small press) press out there that does something similar, but with a nefarious twist. They advertise that they do not accept submissions and if the poet is chosen from their reputation and work, they will be contacted. That is true. What is not mentioned is that at the time that the poet is "chosen" they are asked how many copies of their book they would like to buy. If the number is not sufficient in the publisher's mind, the offer is withdrawn.

Nothing wrong with self-publishing. Just make sure you are not being conned. Where there is a buck to be made there are a lot of people looking to make a quick one with little or no work and NO RISK. It seems that a better way would be to create a name for your press and have 25 copies of the book made by someone like "48 hour books" and then try to sell them or give them out. Maybe you'll catch the publishing bug.

From what I can tell, the publisher gets copies for a few dollars each, so in reality, they are making a lot of money for never even touching the book.
The "publisher" gets a discount from Lulu, but the books are more than a few dollars. Where the "publisher" would make their dough is by setting the price far above the Lulu "wholesale" price. At your example of $14.95 they'd probably be taking in about $6 a copy. But they could price it higher and pocket as much as they'd like off each copy.

But this is hardly much different from vanity press "anthologies" that have been published for the past 150 years. The only difference now is it's much easier to find suckers, and there's no cash outlay required to take their money. So yes, POD makes it easier, but I think the people who would be "victimized" would be victimized regardless of the printing method.

Users who are viewing this thread