Being self-published means using a Print-On-Demand (POD) service, sort of an automated Kinko’s copy center. I use Lulu, the same POD printer used with my previous book, Kimini. An author sends Lulu a manuscript, which they store on a server. When an order comes in, it’s printed, bound, boxed, and shipped. It’s a decent deal for authors that are unable (or unwilling) to deal with “real” publishers. Once the manuscript is uploaded to Lulu’s store front, the process is completely hands-off; Lulu handles sales, shipping, and any customer issues. The downside is that because they aren’t printing thousands of copies at a time, the cost per page is a lot higher, but for many writers, that’s an acceptable overhead to get a book to market. Also, since Lulu has printers located around the world, your book is automatically printed at a regional facility, including Europe and Australia.
The question comes up, “why can’t I buy it on Amazon?” Long story short: book stores don’t like dealing with PODs because they expect a huge discount, and expect to be able to return unsold inventory at the end of each month; neither of these conditions work well in the POD ecosystem. The question also comes up, “Can I get an eBook version?” Short answer: not at this time.
With this enormous task complete, I’m going to start on the backlog of home projects!