About This Book
This book is both new and not new. It grew out of my earlier book, Aiming at Amazon, and some of the material you’ll read here was once part of that other book.
Aiming at Amazon outlined the new business of self publishing, based on producing and distributing books through print on demand and marketing those books through online booksellers, especially Amazon.com. When the book first came out, there was only one way for a self publisher to profitably approach Amazon—through the POD provider called Lightning Source. So, I treated the two as inseparable elements of my model.
Less than two years later, when the book came up for revision, things had changed. Amazon’s own POD offerings had evolved, and its CreateSpace had become a viable alternative for self publishers. Lightning was still the more profitable choice, but CreateSpace, with its greater ease and convenience, was better suited to many beginners. At the same time, I had about three times as much to say about Amazon marketing.
So, the second version of Aiming at Amazon focused more on Amazon itself, and I saved most of my remaining content for a second volume to be focused on Lightning Source.
This is that second volume. And like my writing on Amazon marketing, this material too has about tripled in bulk. I’ve gone into much greater detail about how Lightning works and how to work with it, as well as about other services important to Lightning publishers.
I believe I’ve been fair and balanced in my discussion of Lightning, but there’s no question you’ll find praise and admiration for it in these pages. So, let me make clear that I have no official connection to Lightning except as a publisher client. This book is not sponsored by Lightning, and I have neither sought nor received its endorsement.
Instead, it is based on my own experience with Lightning, which goes back to 1998—only about a year after the company’s founding, when it was still called Lightning Print. I was among the first self publishers to work with the company, or even to know about it. Since then, I’ve published almost two dozen books through Lightning. And though I’ve worked also with BookSurge, CreateSpace, and Replica Books (now TextStream), sales through Lightning provide the bulk of my income today.
Despite growing competition, daunting requirements, and burdensome procedures, Lightning Source remains the prime choice for most modern self publishers determined to maximize profit. If you wish to make a living or earn significant income from your publishing, and if you’re capable of clearing the hurdles, then Lightning is your best bet for reaching your goals.
Of course, not all Lightning publishers make money, but many do, and our ranks are growing. For a very rough idea of what’s possible, here are the results of a 2008 poll of Yahoo’s pod_publishers group—a gathering point for Lightning publishers worldwide—with 28 members responding. Dollar amounts are average monthly profit from POD sales, given in U.S. dollars.
29% ~ $0–$100
29% ~ $100–$1,000
25% ~ $1,000–$5,000
11% ~ $5,000–$10,000
4% ~ $10,000–$50,000
4% ~ $50,000–$100,000
0% ~ Over $100,000
The respondents most successful with Lightning would have published multiple titles in nonfiction—reflecting a truth about self publishing in general. Fiction by an unknown author is almost always a harder sell.
Though this book is about publishing for profit, I do not consider profit a sufficient reason to publish a book. For me, publishing is a personal process, almost a sacred one—the sharing of worthwhile ideas, helpful information, useful techniques, resources for understanding, and hopefully at times a touch of delight—all from mind to mind, for the betterment of both reader and writer. Yes, profit is important to me, but mainly as a way to enable this process—it allows me to keep publishing.
There are many motives for publishing, and I know this book will be used in support of them all. But if, like me, you see publishing not only as a source of personal enrichment but also as a form of service, then this book has been written for you.