I’m asked this question often. Originally, some three years back I used solely CreateSpace.com. It’s a division of Amazon and they have, by far, the simplest system to self-publishing. You still have to be somewhat computer literate. But, if you’re a little lacking in that area they have a great customer service staff that will call you. Their prices are very reasonable. I get away with very little costs in publishing because I’ve taken time to learn the process and the software necessary to complete a book: namely, Microsoft Word for text and editing; Quark Express for interior layout; and Adobe Photoshop for the book cover and dust jacket. But, again, if you’re not that technical, then Createspace has their customer service department to help you complete the process for a fee. After you go through the process, you’ll end up with a very nice trade paperback, paperback coffee table, or mass market paperback book at an affordable price with black and white text and images. If you want color it’s a little more and, in my opinion, a little pricey but, still the best deal around.
About a year and a half ago though, I ran into an issue. When Costco picked up one of my books I ran into an issue…they didn’t like Amazon and wouldn’t carry a book that was printed by a company owned by Amazon. So, I had to search out another publisher. My distributor recommended I try Lightning Source/Ingrams. I did. Their system was slightly more complicated than Createspace but still workable. I found that their prices were ever so slightly more than Createspace but, still affordable and I went with them. The product was very similar.
I now use both Createspace and Lightning Source and each has their own marketing department and retail outlets connected to them. Lightning Source also has a hardback production feature that allowed me to publish a few worthy titles in hardback format. Lighting Source also allowed me to create a fully returnable product within the Ingram’s distributor database; something Createspace would not do. The effect on this was that my books became instantly orderable by Barnes & Noble. Now, just because BN can return your books doesn’t mean they’re going to order them. But, if enough requests are made at a BN Customer Service desk then eventually you’ll trigger an auto-order response by BN’s computers; which I did. It also helps to go into the local Barnes & Noble and mention your book to the onsite managers. If they like your work, they can push an order through too; so long as it’s fully returnable in their database.
The end result was I had created an entirely new channel to sell my books through and I saw an uptick in sales. When I was first told to publish my work through Lightning Source I thought it a daunting task. It wasn’t easy to learn a new system. But, in the end it was worth it.