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  1.  (9574.1)
    We (that is, Big Head Press, that is, my brother and I) plan to release PHOEBUS KRUMM as a graphic novel this spring, but given the difficult and changing nature of the marketplace, it looks near certain we will NOT be doing the usual bit of printing up 2k copies with a web-press printer and then trying to sell through the Diamond Market.

    Recognizing that we don't have the marketing power of a Dark Horse or even Fantagraphics, and likely never will so long as we remain a 2-man shop, we are considering hooking up with For black-and-white books, their unit costs are just low enough, and their marketing infrastructure seems to be just extensive enough, to make them an attractive partner.

    But before I drop the hammer on this, I was wondering if any folks here have some experience or other knowledge about Lulu that I should know about. Or at least, what sort of impression would a move like this make on comics readers and critics?
    • CommentTimeFeb 24th 2011
    I did a small sketchbook through Lulu, and while the printing was fine, the cost was not. There are some webprinters that offer print on demand and limited print runs like Kablam at much more affordable prices so you can actually turn a profit. Hope this helps!
    • CommentAuthorkperkins
    • CommentTimeFeb 24th 2011
    For B&W and text Lulu's pretty good, but color is expensive. I recently got D'Israeli's Timularo from them and it looks nice, the tones printed well (I remember PK uses tones extensively.) I've gotten other GNs from Lulu also, and the printing always looks good.
    Kablam's prices are good, pretty much comparable to Lulu's, definitely better for color, and the printing is quite nice. Of course with Lulu, you can sell on Amazon, and other retailers, also, because you can get an ISBN number, not sure about Kablam.
    I don't see that this move would hurt you, you're already self publishing, just not doing POD. Just remember to order ahead of time for conventions, etc.
  2.  (9574.4)
    The things that Lulu offers that KaBlamm and other POD publishers don't are, one, access to the two big on-line retailers Amazon an B&, and two, a path to the e-book market. We could do Amazon and ComiXology ourselves, of course, but we can't get into Barnes & Noble without a distributor, and it seems that Lulu would be taking a lot of prep work off my hands insofar as the e-books go.

    I looked into Lulu a few years back, after running into Donna Barr (The Desert Peach, Stinz) at a convention, and she seemed real happy with them then but (I have just noticed) is now with KaBlamm/ Not sure what that means. I'm concerned with downsides that are not readily apparent.
      CommentAuthorCameron C.
    • CommentTimeFeb 24th 2011
    Well, Ka-Blam offers an ISBN for your books at an additional 10 bucks. They have their own store front for consumers and a new (very new, and in no way comparable to Amazon) comic shop distribution system that is free (Just requires an ISBN purchased). I don't know if you can get your book into Amazon proper with an ISBN and a ka-blam printed book, but I feel like they have a you-send-us-copies-we'll-stock-them type of deal that is available to most (Though that may be on my head?). Quality as far as Ive seen is good either way. Ka-Blam has given me insanely great customer service, though I havent dealt with Lulu any further than just purchasing books by others on there (I print some of my comics with Ka-Blam as well as bought a bunch of comics through them).
    • CommentTimeFeb 25th 2011
    While reading this thread, I'm trying to upload a corrected PDF to the Lulu site. Their revising system has improved, but their file formatting hasn't. The way I understand it, if you plan on submitting pages with a bleed (as we comic book people so often do), make sure it's exactly the specified size for page size + bleed, or Lulu will scale it down to just the page size. Drives me nuts!

    In general, Lulu's print quality isn't bad, but it isn't remarkable either. If you don't choose any of the more expensive paper options, your book will have that POD feel to it. The print quality varies among the books I got from them, but it's possible they generally improved. Four years ago, I got better print quality both out of Ka-Blam (who then ruined the books during trimming) and ComiXpress, at roughly the same paper quality. On the plus side, Lulu's turnaround time was much better. If you want the job done quickly, I recommend Lulu.

    Before hitting POD, you might want to look around for local digital printers, though. Sometimes you can get a good deal out of those. I've printed both of my Conny Van Ehlsing albums locally at a print run of 100 - 150, on hand-chosen paper and at remarkable quality. It was a little more expensive (about 50% of the cover price), but since I'm in Germany, it paid off just from the postage I didn't have to pay. And people at conventions complimented me for the great quality! That's worth a lot.

    Actually, to be fair, I printed a hardcover with on shiny photo book paper, and that one got some nice comments, too.
  3.  (9574.7)
    I think for comics and especially graphic novels you can do worse than Magcloud, of course the size may not be right, but the print quality and paper are gorgeous they seem pretty quick at turning jobs around as well.
    • CommentTimeMar 1st 2011
    Speaking of this (gotta love synchronicity)--are there any sources for Ariana's POD Manifesto? I was looking for it last night, but her blog is no more, it seems.
  4.  (9574.9)
    Createspace is joined at the hip to Amazon so it's dead easy to get your book online there. They also offer an "extended distribution channel" that makes your book available to bookstores at a wholesale price. That's not practical for color books - the unit price is just too high - but it can work for black and white books. Their pricing for color books is a lot more affordable than Lulu, but they don't do hardcover.

    In order to get the most favorable pricing and markup they make you pay an additional $40 per title for the first year (it's worth it) and $5 per year, per title, in subsequent years. But they declined to charge me the $5 for my second year there. I don't know if that's normal or not.
  5.  (9574.10)
    A cautionary tale about Lulu. I don't know how representative it is of their dealings with other authors. My first attempt at printing my first book (Ness) was with Lulu. I went through the whole proof process and got the book looking the way I wanted it (and I was very pleased with the finished product), and put in an order for fifty copies. At this point Lulu told me that they couldn't print from the pdf file that they'd been perfectly capable of printing proofs from, that I'd need to do it again from scratch with Acrobat, and if I didn't have Acrobat they would do it for me for a fee. This seemed to me to be changing the terms of the deal unilaterally to my detriment, so I withdrew and found another printer, The Fallen Angel in Bristol. They don't do POD, but they can do runs as short as 50 or 100 copies at a very reasonable price, and they're on my side of the Atlantic so the postage isn't as steep and if there's a problem we can talk to each other.
    • CommentTimeMar 3rd 2011
    That looks interesting. They're not really cheap, compared to Ka-Blam and ComiXpress, but the in-Europe postage may make up for that.

    Now all I need is somebody in Bristol to pick up and store the books for me, and I might actually be able to attend the SPExpo in May...