Thursday, May 27, 2010

Self-publishing through Lightning Source

Yesterday, as I walked down my very long driveway preparing for a run, I found a strange package by my front gate. I didn't remember ordering any books from recently, but it was the right size and shape. I picked it up and, yes, that was my name on the label. Then I saw that it was from Lightning Source. In one of those surreal moments, I plied open the cardboard wrapping. Inside was the proof of my very first printed copy of The Crown in the Heather, The Bruce Trilogy: Book I. So I eased it out and . . . oh my gosh, it was pretty in that new-car sort of way. The pages were crisp, the layout neat and consistent and the cover looked way better in real life than it did on my computer screen (thanks a million to my cover artist, Lance Ganey!). It not only looked like a real book fresh off the shelves, it was a real book.

I had uploaded the interior and cover files just before last weekend. With real life being crazy-busy (having a graduating senior tends to dominate your time), I had put it out of my mind and only checked my book's status on LSI's web site once in the interim. Honestly, I hadn't expected it so soon.

I can't even begin to tell you how many unexpected little glitches I've hit along the way in the process of getting my book to this stage. It has been a learning process and taken months (primarily because I'm very cautious and a perfectionist, not because any of it is that difficult). Having gone through the steps now with The Crown in the Heather, I know that my next book, Isabeau, will take me only a fraction of the time to format, as I'm sure will be the case with the cover and uploading to Lightning Source.

Now it's time to order some review copies and start beating the drum. Marketing is neither familiar nor comfortable territory to an introvert, but just like the rest of the process, you learn what you need to and in time it becomes second nature.

When I started on this journey of self-publishing, I studied my options. I knew I wanted to put out a paper book first, because that's still the format most readers prefer, myself included. Subsidy publishers seemed to take too much of the profit. CreateSpace was a possibility, but distribution was limited - plus, if I ever wanted to do a short print run to sell my books locally or at Celtic festivals, then financially that wasn't the best choice. Ultimately, books by Michael N. Marcus (Become a Real Self-Publisher) and Aaron Shepard (Aiming at Amazon, Perfect Pages and most recently POD for Profit) convinced me that using Lightning Source for online POD sales was the way to go - not only because it provided the best profit margin for print-on-demand, but also because it gives the widest routes of distribution.

Don't let it scare you that on Lightning Source's web site in places it may sound like if you're a self-publishing author, then you ought to slink away. They are a professionally run business that works regularly with small presses. Do your homework beforehand and the process will go more smoothly and seem less mysterious. I had a couple of questions that I was afraid would sound like dumb newbie questions, but at every step LSI's reps were both polite and prompt in answering me. Between Shepard's and Marcus's books, LSI's manuals, the POD and Self-Publishing discussion lists on Yahoo!, and the guidance of my friend and self-published author Ali Cooper, I managed just fine. You can, too.

That book that I started writing almost a decade ago and rewrote several times, that a reputable agent diligently championed, and that garnered interest from editors but never quite cleared the final hurdle, it's a real book now.

Do you know what the coolest part is? My son sat down and read a chunk of it yesterday. Yes, I'm an author now. And I have proof.

[A two-time Amazon Breakthrough Novel Quarterfinalist, The Crown in the Heather is the first in a trilogy about 14th century Scottish king, Robert the Bruce. It covers the years before he was king and up until the year he was crowned, from 1290 to 1306. It will be available from and other online retailers beginning in June of 2010.]

Until later,


Daphne said...

How exciting! I just read a summary of the book on Amazon and it sounds very interesting.

N. Gemini Sasson said...

I had to run off and look, Daphne. Appears the excerpt is still up from ABNA (and probably will be until the contest starts again next year). Unfortunately when they turned our ms's into Kindle versions for the excerpts, all the formatting like paragraph breaks and italics were lost. I got a headache trying to read my own stuff on there. Hopefully they'll correct that issue by next year.

I'll be sure to post a link here when the real book appears. Thanks for checking in!

N. Gemini Sasson said...

P.S. You can read the prologue on my web site at: (Much kinder on the eyes than the muddled Kindle version.)

Anita Davison said...

The cover is truly gorgeous, Gemi and no one would ever believe it wasn't a product of a mainstream publisher. You must be so excited and the fact that your son read some of it is thrilling - mine hasn't even opened the front cover and his name is in the acknowledgments - he's off the next one!

Elizabeth said...

Congratulations! So excited to grab my very own copy - and your cover is great :) Thanks for sharing your experiences along the way and all the research you've done and brought to our attention! Definitely very helpful

Michael said...

Congratulations! Even after self-pubbing eight books, it's still exciting to open the first proof from Lightning -- and then I shudder at the typos.

Today I expect the (GASP) 11-th generation proof of a book that was supposed to go on sale on 4/1. However, since I got the idea to write the book back in 1958, a little extra time won't matter much.

I'm glad my book about self-publishing helped you.

Michael N. Marcus

-- Independent Self-Publishers Alliance,
-- "Become a Real Self-Publisher: Don’t be a Victim of a Vanity Press"
-- "Stories I'd Tell My Children (but maybe not until they're adults)"

N. Gemini Sasson said...

Many thanks, Daphne, Elizabeth and Anita!

Michael, I'd have been truly lost without your book. Can't recommend it enough. 1958, eh? Time to nudge that baby out into the big world, I say.

Judith Arnopp said...

Oh, well done, Gemi, i will get a copy just as soon as its available to order.


Mirella Sichirollo Patzer said...

Congratulations! The cover looks fabulous and I'm so very excited for you.

Monty said...

Congratulations! I am so glad to see this book finally in print and I am putting it on my 'to-buy' list. I am currently reading "The Black Queen" by Gary Lloyd on Smashwords so reading yours afterwards will still keep me in the English realm!

Asabea (

N. Gemini Sasson said...

Thanks, Monty, Mirella and Judith. CITH is now available at, with the Search-Inside feature enabled: