In spite of all the blog changes I’ve been posting about, Writer Wednesday will remain the same:

Tips, tricks, ideas, suggestions about writing. And—bonus—I’ll do a second one on Thursdays! But here’s the catch:

YOU have to ask a question! Anything at all, about writing or even publishing . . .

And, well, since one of my pet peeves is finding a blog post that would be more suitable as a social media status update, e.g., really, really short, I’ll continue with our regularly scheduled programming:

LSI vs. CreateSpace

I’ve seen a number of articles recently on the differences between these two companies, so I thought I’d give my own perspective, based on my experience running Rocking Horse Publishing:

First, I want to mention that I used CS as a printer—i.e., RHP was and is the publisher; second, when RHP moved over to Lightning Source, there was no Spark division, which is what LSI has made available for very small publishers and indie authors who may publish just a few books.

Just to be clear, my view comes from using both services in roughly the same manner, which might be different than what you do.

With CS, your first decision is to purchase your own ISBN or use one of theirs. RHP has always purchased our own ISBNs; using one provided by CS means that CS is the publisher, not you.

If you’re using LSI, there is no choice; you must use your own ISBN. This is an important decision, as the ISBN stays with your book forever.

When uploading your ms to CS, you can view errors immediately, fix them, and re-upload. When using LSI, you must convert your Word .doc to a .pdf. Average turnaround time on LSI is three days, although sometimes they surprise you. That means it takes three days before a proof is generated, one which you can view online, but if you need to make corrections you must upload again and yes, it can take another three days.

CS offers book cover design—for a fee, and many other services as well—and templates for those who prefer DIY. LSI offers none of these. Your cover must be built to specifications, converted to a .pdf, and uploaded. Same three-day timeframe, and if there’s a mistake it has to be redone.

The biggest difference is distribution. Your CS-printed book can be made available everywhere, particularly on Amazon; your LSI-printed book ALSO goes into the Ingram database from which bookstores order. Since Ingram is a wholesaler, when you use LSI you must give a heft discount—55%—in order for bookstores to be able to order your book at their usual discount. You also have the option, with LSI, to make your book returnable; stores are more likely to order if they know they won’t get stuck with books that won’t sell.

One of the biggest questions is “which company offers the best printing quality?” Here’s your fun fact of the day:

Much of CS’s printing is done by LSI.

So there you go—your book, your choice.


6 comments on “Writer Wednesday—NOTHING HAS CHANGED!

  1. Sharon says:

    The main reason we chose Ingram Spark is to be able to have major bookstores able to order the books for author events. Also something to remember, LSI will discount your upload fee on your first order. Also LSI books are a tad more expensive and unless you have sales tax info on file with them, you will be charged sales tax. I heard recently though, that CS will start doing that too.
    If an author wants to keep ordering their own copies to carry with them they can still upload the book to CS, just don’t hit publish. You can order without it being available to publish.
    Just adding my 3 cents worth to the pot. 🙂


    • I finally took ours off CS, period, after I switched everything to LSI over a year ago. Too many stats and sales to check, for one thing. And, too, if you’re a member of IBPA, you get discounts as well – 50%.


  2. Robin, does LSI still charge a fee every time you upload a new version? When I initially checked into them it was something like $45 (I think that was it) anytime you uploaded a corrected/changed manuscript.


    • Yes, they do. $40 for interior, $40 for cover. And again, that’s not Ingram Spark, but LSI. LSI is not really a DIY, in other words, they don’t hold your hand and walk you through it, and yes, sometimes it can be frustrating! But many, many bookstores simply will not carry CS books, and it’s easy to tell by looking at the name and code on the last page. CS is typically used by SP authors, one or two books, and that can be very telling to a bookseller.


    • Ingram Spark is new to me – I’ll have to go research it. 🙂


    • Ask Sharon if you have any questions – I’m sure she’d be happy to help!


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