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In my search to publish my short stories, I came across a number of sites, each offering overlapping services.

Is it possible for someone to clarify the difference between Kindle Direct Publishing, Createspace, Lulu, smashwords etc. I am unsure how many are out there.

It is very confusing to say the least.

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They are all distributors for your book. So for traditionally published authors, the publisher handles distribution- sending your book to stores, Amazon etc. For self publishing, you have to do this yourself.

Lulu and Createspace originally distributed only print books, though they also do ebooks now.

Kindle Direct Publishing is Amazon's ebook programme.

And finally, Smashwords, like Draft2Digital, is an aggregate distributor, ie, they submit to many different ebook sellers for you, like Apple, Kobo, B&N. You can submit directly to these websites as well, but some people don't want the hassle of tracking so many book sellers. Also, some companies like B&N don't allow non-Americans (till now), and so you have to go via a distributor.

So to self publish your book, you need to do a minimum:

  1. Use someone like Createspace to create a print version of your book. Note that, for an extra fee (fixed), companies like Createspace and Lightening Source will put your book in the catalogs bookstores use to order books, though not everyone finds this feature useful.

  2. Use KDP to upload your ebook to Amazon, as Amazon doesn't work with websites like Smashwords.

  3. Optionally, use someone like Smashwords or Draft2Digital to upload your book to other sellers like Apple, B&N etc (or do it directly, if possible).

Many self publishers don't do option 3, as other sellers are not very friendly to self publishers, though this is changing slowly over time.

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This is enlightening. Thanks. I have done number 2 and it is not that complicated. Is it necessary to do number 1. –  Javeer Baker Jun 3 '13 at 22:48
    
@JaveerBaker it is recommended, as many people still prefer print books. Creating a print book isn't that hard, and I suggest you do it –  Shantnu Tiwari Jun 4 '13 at 8:58
    
I think CreateSpace no longer charges for distribution. I believe that was the meaning of an email I got from them a while back. In any case, even when they charged the $40 or so, I think it was well worth it. Lulu used to charge $100, I don't know what their current price is. I don't sell a lot of books, but if you have it priced to make, say, $5 a copy, then if you sell 9 through other outlets via CreateSpace or 21 via Lulu, you're ahead. I've sold a fair number that went through Barnes & Noble web site, maybe others. –  Jay Jun 4 '13 at 13:45
    
@Jay, I was talking about expanded distribution, which has never been free. Currently, Createspace charge $25 createspace.com/Products/Book/ExpandedDistribution.jsp –  Shantnu Tiwari Jun 4 '13 at 15:28
    
@ShantnuTiwari Huh, I thought they had said that that was now free. Whatever. Still, at $25, if you make $5 per copy, you just need to sell six books through those channels to make it pay. Even if you're only making $1 per copy, you'd have to sell 26. Unless you know that the only market for your book is the members of your club or your own family or whatever, I'd think that is a pretty good gamble. –  Jay Jun 5 '13 at 13:22
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