Expansion Expression Print Copy (or My Journey with Lulu)

It took me awhile, but I got my act together in making a print copy of Expansion Expression. After my exciting divorce with Amazon, I decided to try new things with medium. Yada yada. I bound my own book. I pimped out my e copy. Who cares? It's very froo-froo. What's the basic version of this freedom?


That's where I went looking. I still wanted simple print copies of the series to put on my shelf/shrine. That used to be CreateSpace....I was thinking about using again, but I reconsidered. It's a time for change. So I went looking for different print on-demand services. Various articles and short videos were watched to figure out which service was one that I was going to try. This piece, a breakdown of four major POD services, was very helpful.

I ended up with Lulu because:

  1. No ISBN required. The idea of getting another CreateSpace ISBN for something private was distasteful.
  2. Could do 1 batch and configure the distribution settings so it was either direct/private.
  3. Heard positive things about quality in the past.

And so I tried to make a print version of Expansion Expression with Lulu.

The process was kind of icky. Lulu's interface is pretty bad. I kept having page loading issues. Like I would go to the next step or try to go back and it would reset. It was obnoxious. But once I understood its issues, I was able to get through it. There are way fewer hoops to go through with Lulu thanCreateSpace. To illustrate:

The CreateSpace Process

Createspace Process
  1. Set all the book metadata. Description. Author. All that.
  2. ISBN selection
  3. Upload interior and enter in previewer to verify it all looks okay.
  4. Upload cover.
  5. Use a book preview application to look at the cover and interior together to verify it all looks correct.
  6. Wait a day or so for it to go through a check and then have the option of getting a proof copy
  7. Configure Distribution channels and pricing
  8. Choose cover style option. Matte vs Glossy.
  9. Final metadata tweaks.

The Lulu Flow

  1. Choose book type. Dimensions, paper type, and stitching. The stitching option was cool. I just perfect because the others were perfect and the page count was high (632).
  2. Upload interior file. The file idea of it (like you have 'files' which may or may not be associated with a book) is kind of odd but whatever. I don't think it does any nuanced checks of the file like CreateSpace. There's also no preview except for a PDF file it does some cleaning with.
  3. Lulu interior upload
  4. Upload cover file. You could use the online cover creator, but I'm used to making my own and would rather do that so that's what I did. Lulu (thankfully) gives you some pretty basic dimensions that you must adhere to. There's a small image preview to show you how the book cover is lining up but it's hard to really see.
  5. Lulu cover upload
  6. Final check screen and basic access selection.
  7. All done!

Lulu really doesn't hold your hand as much as CreateSpace, which is nice for those of us seasoned in this process but it was still ugly to deal with.

But who cares about the UI for making a book? The book quality matters.

And so to determine that I waited for the book to arrive. I feel like it took longer to ship/print, but maybe that was because I was very anxious because I felt like I had messed up the cover/interior. First time with Lulu failure and all that.

But, a day early, it came and I was surprised in a good way.

The Result

The cover was shiny! All the others were matte so this a bit of a shock, but I grew to enjoy the shininess of the cover. It was also fitting because Expansion Expression starts a new saga of four books so having it be glossy on my shelf fits it.

As for the inside, the pages had a very nice weight to them. I was extremely pleased with the quality of the ink and paper. Actually, that was the deal breaker for me. Lulu won me over with an, although annoying, simple process and its sheer quality of paper. The point of all this effort is for the book and the book's heart, body, and purpose are the pages between the cover and the pages with the Lulu copy were great.

I'm going to transition the other books in the series to Lulu eventually so it's all in one place. But, for now, you can just get Expansion Expression from Lulu. I set the price to match the production cost so I don't actually make money off of it. That makes sense to me. This makes sense to me.

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