Originally posted at Kreelan Warrior, the site of Michael R. Hicks, author of the science fiction series, In Her Name – “Fans of epic fantasy as well as science fiction lovers will find an enjoyable read here, particularly those who love to visit unique worlds with some seriously beautiful worldbuilding.”
For those who may be thinking about Lightning Source (LSI), I wanted to give you a quick rundown on what it takes to at least get your foot in the door and get an account.
The first thing you need to keep in mind is that Lightning Source is not a path for those who don’t know how or aren’t willing to do all the in-depth pre-press work. This company is geared toward working with publishers who have technical people working the nuts and bolts of getting a book to press. They’re willing to work with authors, as well, as long as you really understand what you’re getting into.
So, what’s involved? First, assuming you’re up for the technical side of it, you log onto their site and go through the account creation process. A few things you’ll need up front: your company information; ISBN prefix from at least one of your ISBNs; charge card information so they can charge the necessary fees when you get that far; and bank account information (account number and routing number) for where your royalties will go. As far as I know, they don’t verify that you’re a company, but if you’ve gone this far in getting your book published, you’re silly if you don’t at least set up a sole proprietorship or LLC so you can write off your business expenses (there are lots of other good reasons to do this as a business, but that one goes directly to your wallet or pocketbook).
Once you fill out the basic questionnaire on-line, there’s a break in the action so a sales rep can contact you via email for a follow-on series of questions:
- How many titles do you plan to print with Lightning over the next 12 months?
- Do you own the rights to the title(s)?
- Have your titles been printed/published by any other company other than yours?
- How do you plan to submit your title(s) to us?
- Have you previously spoken to any sales representative at Lightning Source?
Again, just be honest in answering the questions. I think their main concern is probably just making sure people aren’t getting in over their heads and confusing Lightning Source (LSI) with a POD publisher like Lulu or Outskirts Press.
Once you answer those questions, the sales rep will get back with you and send you some additional documentation in PDF format:
- An account application form with the information you put in on the web, but you have to sign it
- A publishing agreement
- A W-9 tax form
There aren’t any big surprises here after what you fill out on the web – this is basically to confirm, sign, and send back.
- For a book that’s in the proper electronic (PDF) form, you’ll need two digital files: one for the cover and one for the bookblock (text), which is standard for all the “DIY PODs”, it seems. The title setup charges for processing these files are $37.50 each, so for one book that’s $75.
- For books that you buy direct (say, to sell through your web site), the charge for paperbacks from 5?x8? to 6?x9? is $0.90 + $0.015 per page.
- For books sold wholesale to retailers (which LSI takes care of), their price is a bit lower: $0.90 + $0.013 per page.
- They also offer price discounts for bulk orders.
- You have to order at least one proof copy of your book, which is $30 for paperbacks, including overnight delivery.
- If you want to take advantage of their wholesale distribution network, it’s a $12 annual fee.
That brings us to the primary reason I’m interested in LSI: wholesale distribution. Here’s the boilerplate text from the information one of my sales reps sent:
Our US distribution partners include Ingram Book Company, Spring Arbor, Baker & Taylor, Barnes & Noble, NACSCORP and Amazon.com. To have your title made available through this distribution channel, the digital catalog fee for this service is $12.00 per year, per ISBN, per binding type. You may also choose to have your title(s) made available through our UK distribution partners at no additional charge. Our UK partners include Bertrams, Gardners Books, Blackwell’s Library Services, Coutts and Dawson, Holt Jackson, Paperback Bookshop, The Book Depository and Amazon.co.uk.
That all sounds great! And, now that I think about it, I have to check on UK distribution, as I didn’t indicate in my application that I wanted to do that (”duh!”)…
Editor’s Note: Yep, be sure to check U.K. distribution as well, as it can be difficult to track down these contracts once you only select one type of distribution. These can’t be downloaded once you go through the online application system.