Lulu versus CreateSpace III

After much kvetching and discussion about CreateSpace, I’ve started to publish the NTD paperbacks through them. The latest release, Tales of Masks & Mayhem V4, saw publication through CS. Why? The short answer: money. The Global Distribution package on Lulu costs $75.00 plus whatever you pay for ISBN’s. The Pro plan of CS costs $39.00 (plus what you spend for the ISBN). You can get an ISBN for free from CS, but if you want to establish your own imprint (as a publisher), best to purchase the ISBN from Bowker.

Recently, CS did away with their Pro plan. They now offer you the option of extended distribution for $25.00. The royalties for Amazon based books are far better – about $5.00 per book and that’s without charging exorbitant fees for your books. CS charges a reasonable price for contributor copies too. Contributor copies cost more through Lulu. With retail sales, I’d get a dollar something per book, and when you’re splitting royalties between two or three people, it comes out to pennies per book. Caveat: you do not get discounts by ordering extra contributor copies through CS. Lulu will discount the contributor copy if you order five or more books, plus they offer frequent specials.

Also, with CS, your book will go up on Amazon straight away, whereas you have to wait six to eight weeks (longer if there is a backup) for Lulu distribution. Promotion and book releases won’t do any good if your book isn’t showing on Amazon and other retailers. Another caveat: CS will format any eBook version for you but there is a hefty charge. I format NTD eBooks myself and get the ISBN from Bowker.

Does this mean I will publish all future NTD material through CS and kick Lulu to the curb? Absolutely not. Lulu does a superior job on the magazine. NTD magazine comes in 88 pages, which results in a narrow spine. Lulu allows you to resize the print so you can read the label off the spine. CS does not allow any print on the NTD spine because in their opinion, the spine is too narrow. Another issue: when I print reviews, I must list three retailers that carry the respective book. I did that with NTD 20, and the magazine is available on Amazon. I don’t mind listing retailers but putting NTD out there with a bare spine gives me the creeps. Especially with the upcoming issue, as I’ve gotten a lot of compliments on NTD 21’s cover. Kudos goes to Marge Simon and Teresa Tunaley for their brilliant artwork.

The magazine has a lot of illustrations, and I’ve had limited success with putting illustrations in the eBooks. Smashwords does not recommend illustrations at all, and most eBooks look best if you stick to B&W illustrations and one font. NTD has about three different fonts, so I offer the eBook version in PDF format. Lulu carries the magazines and the other NTD books in eBook format for no charge. I just ordered the print run for NTD 21 and got a generous discount from Lulu.

Some overseas authors prefer Lulu because Lulu will market your book to other countries besides the USA, where said authors will realize their best sales. CS does not have a global distribution plan.

This past week, I released two books. Tales of Masks & Mayhem V4, edited by Ginger Johnson and Night to Dawn 21. One through CreateSpace and the other through Lulu. Which company is better? For magazines, Lulu; for paperbacks, CreateSpace. It all depends on your market and publication.


Betrothal, Betray, and Blood features a mystery murder tale.

When Flowers, Kindness, and Coupons Lead to Mischief

A wise coworker wondered if shopping at several different stores just to get bargains was a good idea. I compare prices before going market shopping, but she suggested that I might spend the money in gas.

Giant is having a special where they double the dollar coupons next week, but most of the groceries on my list I needed this week. The thought crossed my mind that I could postpone purchasing some items with dollars off coupons until next week. Then I got to thinking about my buddy’s advice. I don’t use much gas to go to this Giant, but it’s a dicey area for getting nabbed by Mylar balloons.

Right away, as I walked in, a large Disney character balloons tried to get at my cart. I had to run. I think I burned some serious calories fleeing from balloons.

Another work buddy did me a big favor, so it crossed my mind that she would love getting a daisy balloon. The daisy went into my cart. That balloon has her name on it, I told myself.

I picked up food to make for the Aid for Friends. Our church bulletin reported that food supplies had run low, and alas, the recipients do not have the funds or health to go to the store. Some of the recipients are homeless. So I decided to help by cooking a few meals.

I decided to do all my purchasing today, and never mind the dollar-off coupon deal. Good thing I did. After I finished shopping, the daisy started nuzzling my ear. What? I asked.

There are more balloons like me, the Mylar daisy whispered, and you know full well you want one for yourself.

Not this time, I told him. I am watching my budget.

Of course, you are, the balloon told me, and you’re helping other people. That’s great. Don’t you think you should reward yourself?

Oh, well, uh. More rustling from ahead of me. Another daisy waltzed over to my cart. I admit, I badly wanted that daisy. As I approached the register, the Disney character balloon jumped at me. Next time, I’ll get you, he said, smiling.

After I paid for my groceries, I said to the cashier, “This store is mighty dangerous with its balloons.” He laughed.

If I had gone back next week for the double dollar coupon sale, I might have saved on the respective items, but spent more on balloons. My coworker gave me good advice about shopping at one store.Barbara Custer loves her Mylar balloons and zombie fiction.


Interview with Author & Essayist Minnie E. Miller

Seduction of Mr. Bradley features dark fantasy by Minnie E. MillerTonight, I’d like to talk with Minnie E. Miller, author of The Seduction of Mr. Bradley, Forever My Love, and Catharsis. Having worked for San Francisco’s Mayor, Atlanta’s City Council, and Chicago’s WMAQ TV’s newsroom, Minnie has acquired a strong interest in politics which blends in with the fiction / fantasy on her printed page. Mr. Bradley has earned several 4 and 5-star reviews. I’ve had the pleasure of reading her books and found them entertaining and at the same time thought-provoking. Minnie will be discussing her books and marketing strategies, so let’s hear what she has to say.

BARBARA: What motivated your writing of The Seduction of Mr. Bradley? Can you give a brief summary?

MINNIE: I had a conversation with a gay man about alternative lifestyles (because I’m nosy) and in thinking back, discovered I knew a man who was bisexual and put what I understood in the novel. I did not interview the man. Bisexuals will not publicly admit their lifestyle.

Bill Bradley is adopted and mentored by Ted Grassley from high school to manhood. Ted is a CEO with deep pockets. Although married for forty years, he is bisexual. Bill, caught in the throws of Ted’s lifestyle, complicates matters when he meets Jina Cook, a straight, attractive young lady. The two feel an instant attraction toward each other, but both try to pretend it is not happening. Finally, Jina makes the first move, and Bill knows he can’t live without the woman. Unfortunately, Bill has a big secret; he is bisexual and finds himself torn between Jina and Ted – his male lover and father figure. This spontaneous and deeply gratifying tryst throws him off balance. When Mr. Bradley reveals his bisexuality to the only woman he’s ever loved, an emotional war erupts.

BARBARA: You’ve done so well with your characterization in Mr. Bradley and Catharsis. Where did you get your ideas for some of these characters?

MINNIE: I answered where my my idea for Mr. Bradley came from in question 1, above. Also I started writing Mr. Bradley from a female POV, but when his voice became stronger, I switched the protagonist to Bill. I also researched bisexuality and visited many Bi sites. The novel does not bash alternative lifestyles; it’s about love and humankind.

Catharsis, three short stories, was my first book ever. Looking back, I think it came about because I was angry about slavery and with corporate America – corporations are one group listed under vampires! The last short story in Catharsis, “Connecting,” was taken from another MS I was working on and came from my heart.

BARBARA: Could you talk a little about your forthcoming releases?

MINNIE: Whispers From The Mirror is a paranormal novel. Protagonist Brianna Deville is a feminist/activist. Mother Belle raises her to be a strong, independent woman. In deference to her mother, she lives most of her life hiding behind the mask of a feminist until she learns mother abandoned her for a career she tethers Brianna to. She hears her biological clock ticking and knows she is at a crossroad in her life. Mirror-lady, an apparition, counsels Brianna and tells her the truth about her role as a feminist and how it has inhibited  her. The ghost is a strong sub-character who nearly steals the story. She has quite a sense of humor.

I’m rewriting “Forever My Love” into a novel. It’s an Amazon Short and still available online. Vampire Lucien is lonely and searches the world, looking for his soul mate. He finds Christina in an opera house in California and mentally seduces her. During their many visits together, she is unaware that he is a vampire and falls in love with him. Unbeknown to her, he stalks her, enters her bedroom in the night and telepathically plants his lovemaking into her mind. Christina has no idea what awaits her. Lucien vows to have her at any cost.

I would like to release both novels in mid-2010.

ForeverMyLove features more dark fantasyBARBARA: You’ve talked about editing on your blog and website. What tips can you give on how an author should approach an editor?

MINNIE: Areas of expertise, price, and schedule are all-important in choosing an editor.  Learn how the editor charges and compare it with your budget. I think it important that you discuss your plot. Some editors will not work on certain stories. Also, ask about their clients – most will put their client list on their website. Ask friends for references. IMO, an editor is very important to your work and I won’t slack on the cost, but I demand the best results for my work.

BARBARA: The economy has had a big effect on publishing houses – staff cutbacks and the like. Do you think that more and more authors will opt for self-publishing?

MINNIE: I’ve seen this happening. I’m even looking at e-Publishing, but haven’t found the connection yet. However I publish, I’ll use three avenues: paperbacks, eBooks and reading machines like Kindle. When publishing houses come out of their tortoise shell – understand that publishing is a business that requires a profit – like the turtle, they will be slow in taking on new authors. They more than likely will work from their “A and B list” and new authors are rarely on these lists.

BARBARA: Have you given any thoughts to e-Book publishing? As the economy changes, will e-Books become the wave of the future?

MINNIE: No doubt e-Books are now. The future is now. I’m going to look into it.

BARBARA: What advice would you give an author hoping to market their books?

MINNIE: Get a website; a blog would also help. Work within social net sites. I would save enough money to hire a public relations person unless you’re good with marketing. You will need a book distributor; they are expensive but necessary. Get on online talk shows; there are hundreds out there! I don’t do too many book signings unless they are in my city. Rarely will a book signing cover the cost of table, transportation and hotel room. You could spend as much as $1,200 and sell maybe five books. That said, try to make at least one book fair a year so that people get to know the face connected with the book. Make your book information and website a permanent part of your e-mail, a tag line.

BARBARA: What would you consider to be the most challenging part of your writing?

MINNIE: Personal editing and rewriting after a professional edit. Understand that you cannot see your errors, but you can try to clean up the MS before sending it to a professional editor. I use two editors: developmental and proofreader. It would work well if you could find an editor who will copy edit and proofread. Your next challenge is marketing – it’s your job regardless as to how your book is published. Publishers WILL NOT market your book for you. Yeah, they’ll put you on their list of authors but beyond that, it’s your job to push your novel.

BARBARA: Do you have any signings or radio interviews coming up?  When?

MINNIE: A friend has asked me to have a book signing of Mr. Bradley at her boutique this September. Her boutique is seven blocks from my apartment. Ha! I also plan to have two online radio interviews when my new books drop in 2010.

BARBARA: Where may people get copies of your books?

MINNIE: As of this year, The Seduction of Mr. Bradley is no longer available on, and Catharsis is not carried on B&N any longer. I have copies of both books in my apartment. Contact me by email at or I accept PayPal payments or money orders.

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