Print on demand options for self-publishers

Lightning Source International, IngramSpark, and CreateSpace are all print on demand (POD) printers as well as distributors. Not only are they able to print your book, but they can distribute it to wholesalers such as Ingram. Ingram, just like Baker and Taylor, is one of the largest book wholesalers in the world and is responsible for making your book available to retailers. Both Lightning Source International (LSI) and IngramSpark (IS) are owned by Ingram whereas CreateSpace (CS) is owned by Amazon.

Reasons Why Publishers Should Use Lightning Source

Bookstores usually won’t order books through CS because they aren’t returnable. So what makes them so popular? Well, CS is primarily used by self-publishing authors because they are cheaper and easier to use. CS will issue you one of their own ISBN numbers so that you can publish the book under your own name making it more affordable and less time-consuming for the author. The only downside is that CS will list their name as the publisher which will automatically deter bookstores from carrying the book because it sends a message that you are a self-publisher and bookstores don’t like to work with self-publishers.

Note: LSI and IS are probably better routes to take due to their higher print quality, the option for returns, and their wide distribution channels since CS only distributes to Amazon (unless you sign up for their expanded distribution channel) and LSI distributes to Amazon, BN.COM, Books-A-Million, and many others.

Now, if you’ve narrowed it down to LSI and IS, keep in mind that LSI doesn’t accept self-publishing authors and therefore directs them to IS. If you like the benefits of LSI, but are not willing to start your own publishing company (LLC, purchasing ISBN’s, dba, etc), then go with IS. I’ve worked with LSI and IS and their interface is similar although IS is slightly easier and cheaper. Another major difference is their distribution for print versus digital. LSI has a better distribution channel for paperbacks and hardcovers, but IS is better for eBooks. Also, LSI have more print and binding options than IS.

Lightning Source or IngramSpark?

One of the drawbacks with LSI is that Amazon occasionally lists their books as ‘temporarily out of stock’ which is bad for business. Some authors have chosen CS just to avoid stocking issues.

Going with LSI doesn’t guarantee that your book will be carried by bookstores. It only increases your chances especially if you offer a 40% or higher discount. You would still need to call every bookstore one by one and encourage them to purchase your book. Also, you must have a strong author presence online and in your community, regardless of the route you take.

Ways to Publish Your Book

Enjoy Free Standard Shipping on book orders over $35! Shop The Scholastic Store Online!


Taneeka Bourgeois-daSilva is an authorpreneur, teacher, blogger, educational consultant, and writing coach. She wrote the award-winning Broccoli Chronicles and is the CEO of Building Voices and TCD Kids Foundation. She tweets at @taneekabdasilva.

Ways to publish your book

As an author, it is imperative that you understand the different routes of publishing and how they can benefit or limit your writing career.  If you want creative control, flexibility, and to keep all of the profits from your book, then self-publishing might be a better route for you.  If you want to sell tons of books and gain popularity fairly quickly, then traditional publishing might be a better choice for you.  We will discuss the different options that are currently available for new authors.  Before attempting any of the below, develop your author platform way in advance to publishing.

Ways to Promote Your Book


Traditional publishing is when the publisher offers the author a contract in order to print, publish, and distribute their book to wholesalers, bookstores, and libraries.  The publisher purchases the rights to sell your book and in turn you receive an advance and a royalty check for each book sale.  The larger the publisher, the greater the advance.  Keep in mind, traditional publishers aren’t as flexible with their contract terms and you may lose some of the creative control over your book.  On a positive note, you will gain popularity quickly, you will sell tons of books, and your book will be displayed on various bookshelves and stores across the world.  LASTLY, THE AUTHOR PAYS NOTHING!

If you are interested in traditional publishing, it is almost mandatory that you find a literary agent.  The best resource to find agents in your particular genre can be found here.  Before you solicit agents, make sure that you draft your query letter and synopsis as part of your submission packet.  Your query letter should include your pitch, a brief summary of your book, and a description of yourself.  Query letters are normally one page long and can become a task within itself.  Condensing your 50+page manuscript into a refined one page query, is no easy task. Formatting & Submitting Your Manuscript is one of the many guides that are out there to help.

728x90 Learn To Read $14.95

INDEPENDENT AND SMALL PRESS PUBLISHING (also known as indie publishing)

Independent publishing is similar to traditional publishing, but just on a smaller scale.  They are not considered one of the five large conglomerates or multinational corporations such as: Random House, HarperCollins, etc and they usually specialize in one or two genres or small markets.  They offer contracts and royalties, but depending on the size of the company, an advance might be out of the question.  The good thing is… it is easier to get signed with an indie publisher rather than a traditional publisher, but the downside is… that their distribution channels or marketing campaigns aren’t as great plus you won’t have access to the top-notch staff members that the big five have access to.  The publisher purchases the rights to sell your book and in turn you receive a royalty check for each book sale.  They are more flexible with their contract terms and you don’t lose as much creative control as you would with traditional publishing. BUT AGAIN, THE AUTHOR PAYS NOTHING!

Ways to Grow Your Indie Publishing Company


Under self-publishing there are four models which include: self-publishing, print-on-demand, vanity press, and subsidy press.  Please take the time to understand which option is best for you.  Even though these options are becoming more popular everyday, libraries and bookstores are skeptical in carrying books that have been self-published.  KEEP IN MIND, THE AUTHOR IS RESPONSIBLE FOR PAYING A FEE – EITHER MOST OF IT OR ALL OF IT!

1. Self-publishing – Self-publishers pay for everything – editing, printing, distribution, marketing, etc.  With this route, you have the option of using print-on-demand services OR off-set printing.  You can hire a book designer to design the cover and layout of your book, and then send it to a printer for binding and printing.  You are then responsible for distributing and marketing your book to either online bookstores like or or selling your book at book fairs.  If you choose POD printing, then places like Createspace and Lightning Source will distribute your book to or for an additional fee.  If you want your book in indie bookstores, then you would need to market and network on your own.  Keep in mind, that popular bookstores like Target, Barnes and Noble, Costco, Walmart, etc rarely carry self-published books.  With this route, you won’t sell as many books right away, but you obtain creative control.  YOU PAY FOR EVERYTHING!

2. Vanity press – also known as a book manufacturer, will publish your book for a fee.  They will print, publish, and sometimes distribute your book for you, but rarely do they offer any editing or marketing services.  Some authors complain that their fees are expensive, also that they don’t offer the assistance that the author needs, and that their work is sub-par.  With this route, you are able to obtain all rights to your book and keep the profits from each sale.  YOU PAY FOR EVERYTHING!

3. Subsidy press – as with a vanity press, they will publish your book for a fee.   They will print, publish, and distribute your book for you, and will assist with editing and marketing as well.  Some authors complain that their fees are expensive and that their work is sub-par.  If you decide on a subsidy press, remember, that they own the rights to your book plus you are paid a royalty as the book sells.  YOU PAY FOR SOME!

4. Print-on-demand – POD publishers pretty much take everyone who has the money to pay.  They primarily deal with the binding and printing of the book, but for an additional fee, they can assist with the book design and layout.  They only print books as customers purchase them (due to high technology printers), which helps new authors save money.  The cost per book is more expensive than off-set printing (which requires you to purchase a lot of books all at once), but at least you won’t have a garage full of books that you are unable to sell.  Check out Createspace, IngramSpark, LuLu, and Lightning Source for more information.  Keep in mind, this route is similar to self-publishingit is more about which style of printing your prefer.  YOU PAY FOR EVERYTHING!

Need more information, check out the Writer’s Market. - get them all in just one Click!


Taneeka Bourgeois-daSilva is an authorpreneur, teacher, blogger, educational consultant, and writing coach. She wrote the award-winning Broccoli Chronicles and is the CEO of Building Voices and TCD Kids Foundation. She tweets at @taneekabdasilva.

Selecting a print on demand vendor can be challenging for any self-publisher or small press.

Which is better for you?  Lightning Source or IngramSpark?

Lightning Source is more designed for medium to large publishing companies whereas IngramSpark is more suitable for self-publishers.  Both vendors have a very similar online layout and submission requirement.

The major difference that I’ve noticed is between paperbacks and ebooks.  Lightning Source has a better distribution channel for paperbacks and IngramSpark has a better distribution channel for ebooks.  At first, I didn’t like the idea of having two different print on demand vendors to work with.  I wanted to list all of my titles with the same vendor.  I eventually went with Lightning Source for my paperbacks and IngramSpark for ebooks.

There are other vendors such as Lulu and Createspace so don’t hesitate to shop around and find what works for you.  I’ve had tons of success with Lightning Source and IngramSpark so I plan to continue publishing my titles with them.

Check out the following articles if you still have questions!



Taneeka Bourgeois-daSilva is an authorpreneur, teacher, blogger, educational consultant, and writing coach. She wrote the award-winning Broccoli Chronicles and is the CEO of Building Voices and TCD Kids Foundation. She tweets at @taneekabdasilva.

Last updated by at .