In the first part of my post, I started recounting about the Print-On-Demand services that I researched to self-publish my first fantasy novel “The Last Families”. I found many roadblocks on KDP, IngramSpark, and BookBaby. It was time to consider others.
Draft2Digital was my next option. I’ve already been getting newsletters from them and they had good reviews online. I thought this service was meant to be the one. Like BookBaby, Draft2Digital uses PayPal and Payoneer to send payments to authors. PayPal is still an issue for me, since this payment gateway doesn’t completely work in Bolivia (you can’t connect it to a bank account), but you can still receive payments in your PayPal account and use them as available credits for other future online payments. Payoneer, on the other hand, is a better solution for me. I can actually cash out that money with it. Given this payment advantage, I was already excited with Draft2Digital and I thought I had found the one. I’m not sure how I didn’t notice that it was only for ebooks. Print-on- Demand was still on beta and not quite available yet to all their customers. Well, time to go to the next one.
LuLu or Blurb. Those two were the final ones on my list.
Weird enough, there weren’t many reviews on Blurb. I had found some comments online that they didn’t get any cut on profits, but other sources said they did. Of course, I planned writing their support to clarify about the profit issue, but in the meantime I had been exploring their platform a bit more. They asked you to download a software on your computer to work with your manuscript and convert it to a printable file. That was the first barrier. I never got their software to work on my computer, and yes, I’m computer savvy. I wrote to their support service and followed the steps they provided but nop, the software didn’t work. I was still giving them a chance and trying to make the software work when I decided to look at their website shop. All these Print-on-Demand services offer you to sell your book on their web shops, besides the big distribution partners (Amazon, Barnes & Noble, etc.) But Blurb is mainly focused on books with visuals/photos- I’ve heard their software does wonders for books with photos for example. Unfortunately, their website shop is not the place where I want my Fantasy novel to be listed. They do list fiction, but it is not their focus and I don’t see any advantage of being listed with them. I doubt any bookshop or small library will look into Blurb’s website for fiction. It is sad, but true at this point. A couple of days later, I found the final barrier when I dug more into their shipping policies, they ship to North America and the EU, but not Bolivia. Sorry, bye Blurb.
That made me pass to Lulu. And although they pay with PayPal, not Payoneer, it was the option that didn’t present any other harsh barriers. They get 20% of profits. I had to say okay. They ship worldwide. Their website bookshop is not that bad. Their platform is quite easy to follow. They distribute to Amazon and the others. And although, I might only see earnings in the form of PayPal Credits, I guess that is acceptable for the moment. They get you a free ISBN, so that is always good. Therefore, Lulu is the chosen one for the moment. (You don’t have to stick with one of these services, you can always cancel a service with them and work with another in the future).
I’m also happy to say that I have a second alternative for issues with shipping to Bolivia, using Aeropost. I know since the book is in English, the main book’s market is abroad and not my country, but I still want to have the option to get them to Bolivia. I still want to order around a half-dozen books for friends and family over here. Amazon has been sending things to Bolivia with DHL. And it is the biggest mistake ever. I even called Amazon support about this. I’m not going to go in detail in this post, but aside from what you are charged for Shipping & Handling when you buy at Amazon’s website, you pay a lot of money here to DHL (more than what you paid for the order) for their “additional handling”. DHL Bolivia has these “minimum amounts” they charge for handling your package, even if the product was worth only U$5. Short story, Aeropost is a service for countries like Bolivia and others in Latin America. They give you an address in the US and you ship your orders there. Then they consolidate the packages and charge you for shipping and handling to Bolivia. It is not cheap but their fee is lower compared to the one from DHL. To give you a specific example, DHL charges a minimum of U$45 for handling, aside from custom taxes, for any item that is worth at least $1, in addition to the U$35 you paid for “shipping and handling” in Amazon’s website. It really doesn’t make any sense to me. It is too expensive. You are paying over U$95 (with taxes) to buy a U$10 book. Aeropost charges you shipping (U$17), customs taxes, and $5 for handling. In total, it is less than a third part of DHL’s fees in Bolivia. Unfortunately, those are some issues of living in a third-world country.
I know this post had a little bit of everything. And most of you might not have these issues at all. But it is still good to know what happens with other authors out there. My biggest hope is that this post reaches international authors who might be living in countries where these things are common and that my experience helps you a bit. At least to encourage to keep going on.
My book cover should be ready soon. That is another story for another post. Once it is done, I’ll order my first Lulu copy for approval. So excited about this 🙂