CreateSpace versus Lulu

My mother once told me that when you leave your old street for a new street, you know what you’re leaving, but you don’t know what you’re going to find. I kind of felt that way when some of my fellow small press publishers encouraged me to do my NTD printing through CreateSpace. The royalties are better, they told me, and copies are cheaper.

If you want extended distribution, such as Published By You in Lulu, it runs about $100 ($75.00 for distribution and $25.00 for an ISBN if you buy yours in lots of ten). I saw that I could get extended distribution in CreateSpace if I got the pro plan for $39.00, and then I read the fine print. CreateSpace does not sell overseas. Lulu does. Once you plunk down the $39.00 charge, you have to pay $5.00 a year to keep the distribution going. So..let’s say the book stays in print ten years. That’s $50.00. And there is still your $25.00 for the ISBN. CreateSpace will supply an ISBN but you can’t use it anywhere else. Funny thing, I never read anything about the $5.00 a year charge when I visited blogs to see why people esteemed CreateSpace.

There is another caveat I didn’t find on these blogs. When you upload files on CreateSpace, you must have them in PDF. That goes for the cover as well as the interior. Better go out and spend several hundred on Acrobat software to make PDF files if you don’t already have it. I don’t have Acrobat, but I have Word 2007, which enables me to convert the interior file to PDF but not the covers. Lightning Source is another company that requires you to own Acrobat software and be savvy about it.

If you don’t intend to go for extended distribution, CreateSpace may well be cheaper, and with that in mind, I contemplated CreateSpace as an adjunct to the Lulu printer. Perhaps it might work for the Night to Dawn magazine. So I gave it a try, using a PDF file I had gotten off of Lulu.

With the right kind of file, the uploading process wasn’t bad. The files passed muster, and it came time to order a proof. This brings me to my final caveat, payment. Lulu will give you the option of PayPal. CreateSpace only deals with credit cards, and the company wouldn’t accept mine. I’ve used the same credit card for ten years with no problems but CreateSpace would not accept it. I only keep one credit card that I use regularly, and I’m not getting another credit card just so I can place an order. So I did not get the proof.

Well, well. Two other sayings come to mind, these gotten from my husband. When you buy cheap, you get cheap. Stick with the one who brought you to the dance. If I tell Mike about my experience with Lulu and CreateSpace, that is exactly what he would tell me. And so with that in mind I will be happy to release Tom Johnson’s new book, Cold War Heroes, using my familiar Lulu printer, smile, and kick up my heels.

Which company would you use to print your books? What were your experiences with that company, and would you recommend it for others? I look forward to hearing your thoughts.

Ghost Dance features zombies, vampires, and werewolves.


About Barbara Custer

Author of: Twilight Healer Steel Rose Life Raft: Earth City of Brotherly Death Close Liaisons Infinite Sight When Blood Reigns Infinite Sight Publisher / Editor of Night to Dawn Books & Magazine
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  1. I went with Createspace because of the printing costs. I am in the UK so like Raphaël I was not pleased about the cost of getting copies of my own book to the UK. I worked it out and it was still cheaper to have my books printed in the US and sent to the UK. Time is a factor though, so I’d best not be in a hurry. It is a thin (40 page) 7 x 10 inch illustrated book and it worked out at about an extra $1.64 per book to ship 20 to the UK. This still means that I can make nearly $3 a book when with Lulu I was struggling to break even if I sold at $9.99 which is my CS list price. I still believe that Createspace could do a lot more for its overseas customers, like stop deducting 30% tax off sales for a start.

  2. Rocket Dog (Ergo Proxy)

    Sounds like I might have to publish my book on CreateSpace

  3. That you had sales and they’re not showing on Lulu is sad. I agree, you don’t need this kind of aggravation. Have you attempted to contact them about this?

    If you take your books to createspace, you can use the PDF for your cover / interior, but you have to use a separate ISBN for createspace. Createspace will supply you one, but they will list your book as “Published by Createspace.”

    I haven’t gotten any money from Lulu, but I got some from private sales and from digitalizing the NTD books (Kindle, Nook, etc.).

    Lulu does have high postage rates, so people might not want to order from them directly. They might order through Amazon. You should still have it noted on your account, and then get paid when the royalties are a certain amount.

    Contact the helpline and see what they have to say. I’d be interested in hearing the outcome.


  4. I’m still waiting for a royalty check from I have had many friends and some relatives by the three books from Lulu. and they don’t even show this on my sales page.

    What is happening with Lulu?

    I’m about to publish (in 6 months now) another book, but it won’t be with I’ll jump to Createspace, and close down my account with Lulu..take all my books to Createspace.

    Lulu looked like a good thing two years ago, but it has really fallen apart. I hear over and over this same tale from other writers about Lulu.

    Writing is hard enough without a slapdash publisher refusing to pay for the books sold.

    Lady Nyo (

  5. The real drawback for me with CreateSpace is international availability. Lulu has contracts with local printers in various countries, so they get your book printed in Europe (for example) in a very short time and shipped in a short time too, and for a very reasonable price. CS on the contrary, only prints in the US, and they ask for no less than 28 days and hundreds of $ to ship to Europe. I’ve also printed the very same book on both, and found that the printing quality with Lulu (at least with the French printer) was better than that of CS. I’d love to use CS more, but delays and shipping are just crazy outside of the US.

  6. Lady Nyo is right on! I placed a book with Lulu for four years and never made a penny from sales, though friends were buying the book, so I know it was moving. Publishers that use Lulu for their printer (?) don’t seem to make any money for their authors, either. If Createspace was easier to work with, I’m sure more publishers would be going over to them in a heartbeat. One of my publishers uses Lulu for hardback editions, and Createspace for the paperback edition, and I do see a lot of royalties from them.

  7. Actually, I have published three books with Lulu, and now am jumping to Createspace.

    Lulu doesn’t tell you that they don’t have an inhouse printer. They have to farm it out for this.

    My last book, “White Cranes of Heaven” had 11 colored plates….paintings…in it, illustrating my poems. The price was 26.90. Createspace said that they did have an inhouse printer and the price would be around 12.00…and 6.86 for me the author. Lulu refused to give me an author’s discount.

    Easy choice here. Lulu has the very worse CS department I have ever come across. They are not accessible for questions. You have to stand on your head and spit rocks. I have had many complaints from people who have tried to buy my books from Lulu that they can’t find them. The second book: “The Zar Tales”, lulu withheld listing it for 4 MONTHS!! And then sent me a silly email saying “I didn’t want to know what happened, gremlins, monsters, etc.”

    Lulu is a pack of fools…Createspace is accessible and interested in my business. Phone calls and help abounding…so far.

    Jane Kohut-Bartels (Lady Nyo)

  8. Thank you, Alyce and Don. For the moment, I’m sticking with Lulu.

  9. From my own personal experience, I’ve found Lulu to be tops.

  10. I used CreateSpace in part because it was recommended to me. While I had heard good things about Lulu, a friend who printed his graphic novel through them warned me that they were unreliable with payments. He had also done his own research and was now recommending CreateSpace.

    While the extended distribution may come out in Lulu’s favor, I think if you did some further number crunching on the royalties, you’d see that CreateSpace comes out ahead. That said, I think that ultimately it comes down to going with the company you’re comfortable with. If you’re happiest with Lulu, they’re the best selection for you.

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