Differences between Kindle, CreateSpace, Nook, Smashwords, Blurb, Lulu, and Scribd…


That’s a bit like comparing cabbages with cucumbers, but I get asked this a lot, so let me share my personal conceptions right now, compared to when I wrote How to Get Your Book Published Free in Minutes and Marketed Worldwide in Days a couple of years ago.

First, they all sort of do the same thing, publish your ebook free (or just about) and distribute it. They also pay you royalties. And they get the ebooks out in minutes or hours.

Kindle will probably sell more ebooks for you than any other. Very easy to submit to and they take almost every kind of book. (CreateSpace is a sister house that does the same for paperbacks, and is also very easy to use. Costs about $30 to see the proof before printing.)

Nook is Barnes & Noble, and of all, the easiest for submissions. Except it sells very little from its own Nook website, though it sometimes buys your book from other distributors.

Smashwords sells some books itself and pays the best (about 85%), but your buyers have to find them. It also sells your books to Apple (iPad), Barnes & Noble, Kobo, and others through its Premium Catalog. Doesn’t cost you anything to have them sell your ebook direct or through the catalog, but getting your submitted text and cover to meet the catalog requirements can be like trying to squeeze that proverbial camel through the eye of a pin. You also need an ISBN for the catalog (you can use a free one they will provide) and you need a special copyright listing on the first or second page.

Blurb mostly sells good looking art or photography books, so I’ve never submitted there. If they’d print the quality of art book I could produce, they’d fold fast!

Lulu, again, is out of my orb. They create ebooks and paperbacks, like the others above, but seem to distribute only to the Lulu world (which they claim is huge). I sent a book or two their way at the outset but haven’t heard a word since. My text must be short on Lulu-world appeal.

Scribd has a fair number of my offerings but has also seemed allergic to sales. Very easy to use. Then, out of the blue, they just sent me a $27+ check but for sales from a couple of years back. I guess I gathered up the minimum $25 before they paid. But two years? Thank God I’m no longer a starving writer; now I’m a starving publisher. So when I get an ebook ready I hesitate before adding Scribd to the list. That’s up to you and your patience. Maybe your book will turn the Scribders rabid with buying desire.

I write a lot about this “open” publishing in my free newsletter. To see precisely what each firm does, how they want you to submit copy and a cover, and other peculiarities, just pop their name into Google and open their site. What they all share in common is that they are part of this publishing revolution that lets you circumvent the major houses and 10% royalties and 18-month delays (or, most likely, rejections) so you can try your own hand getting your book in print—quickly and inexpensively. So what does it hurt to write the masterpiece, style it well, get a dandy cover designed, get the whole thing well proofed, and see if the hordes are frothing to buy your genius?

Best wishes,

Gordon Burgett

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